Civil Partnership

Civil partnership is a legally recognised life-long civil union between two people of the same sex.

Since the enactment of the Marriage Act 2015, no new civil partnerships may be registered in Ireland.

What was required to enter into a valid civil partnership?

  • Capacity (you must not have been party to an existing civil partnership or marriage; and you must have the mental capacity to understand the nature of civil partnership).
  • Full and free consent.
  • Both parties must be 18 years of age.

Impact of the Marriage Act 2015

Same sex marriage was introduced in Ireland by a referendum in May 2015 and legislation came into effect on the 16 November of that year. Same sex couples can now legally enter into marriage and have the same legal rights and obligations towards each other as opposite sex married couples.

Since the 16  November 2015, no new notifications of civil partnerships can be made. However, the status of existing civil partnerships remain the same since that date.

The legislation allowed for a period of six months to May 2016 for civil partnerships to be registered where notification of the ceremony had been made prior to November 2015. Therefore, after May 2016 no civil partnerships have been registered in Ireland.

Civil partnerships registered abroad since 16 May 2016 are not recognised as civil partnerships in Ireland.

Couples in a civil partnership can apply to marry or remain in a civil partnership. If they marry their civil partnership is automatically dissolved.

Further information is available on the Department of Justice website. 

Rights and Responsibilities of Civil Partners

Whilst some of the rights are the same or similar to those applicable to a married couple, there are many ways in which the two relationships differ, most especially in respect of the rights and responsibilities owed by the parties to each other. A document outlining the legal differences between the two relationship statuses can be found here.

What are the tax implications of a civil partnership?

The Revenue Commissioners provides helpful information on the tax implications of civil partnerships, which can be found here.

Can the parties to a Civil Partnership adopt a child together?

Following the enactment of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, a couple who has entered into a civil partnership are eligible to adopt a child, and the rights of a civil partnership couple in respect of their adopted child are now the same as those of a married couple in respect of their adopted child. This part of the Act has been given effect by the Adoption (Amendment) Act 2017.

If a couple who has entered into a Civil Partnership has a child through assisted human reproduction, what is its legal status and its rights/responsibilities in respect of that child?

In a same sex male civil partnership, where one of the couple donates sperm, he shall be the biological father and unless he has lived with the mother of the child for a period of 12 months, including 3 months after the birth of the child, he does not have any automatic right to guardianship. However, he will have the right to apply to the court for guardianship status and/or can agree guardianship status through an agreement with the gestational mother.

In a same sex female civil partnership, where one of the couple is the gestational mother and provides her own egg, she shall be the legal mother of that child.

Following the enactment of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, a civil partner who is not the biological parent of the child of his/her civil partner, but has shared with that biological parent, responsibility for the child’s day-today care for a period of more than 2 years; he/she can apply to the court for an order appointing him/her the guardian of the child. The Act was commenced on 18th January 2016 but does not have retrospective effect so applications for guardianship by a civil partner on this basis can only be brought before the court since January 2018. 

From 4 May 2020, the intending parent (mother’s spouse, civil partner or cohabitant) will be recognised as the legal parent if the following conditions are met:

For a child conceived after 4 May 2020:

The donor-assisted human reproduction must have taken place in a DAHR facility in Ireland using a traceable sperm donor.

Both parents can register with the Register for Births, Deaths and Marriages, as parents.

For a child conceived before 4 May 2020:

The donor-assisted human reproduction must have taken place in a DAHR facility in Ireland or abroad using an anonymous or traceable sperm donor.

In this case, a court declaration of parentage is required to enable the intending parent to be registered on the child’s birth certificate.

Dissolution

How is the union dissolved?

Where a couple in a civil partnership marry, their civil partnership is automatically dissolved.

In all other cases a civil partnership can only be dissolved by court order and the court must be satisfied that the following conditions are met:

  • The parties have been living apart from one another for a period of 2 out of the previous 3 years on the date the application is made to court.
  • Proper provision must be made for each civil partner and any dependent children.

Upon dissolution, what rights and responsibilities do former civil partners have to each other?

The court is empowered to make a range of orders where required in order to satisfy the standard of proper provision, including:

  • orders for the payment of maintenance,
  • orders for lump sums payment(s),
  • orders for the transfer of property,
  • orders for the extinguishment of succession rights.

Contacts

OrganisationTelephoneEmailWebsiteAddress
General Register Office

Tel: 0090 6632900

Lo-Call: 1890 252076   

gro@groireland.ie www.gov.ie/gro Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon.
Citizens Information 0761 07 4000   www.citizensinformation.ie More than 260 drop-in locations nationwide. Find your local centre here.

Family Law Information Research Group

School of Law, Áras na Laoi, University College Cork,

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