Cohabitation Agreements in Irish Law-the Essentials

Are you part of a cohabiting couple? The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act 2010 (“the Act”) was enacted to grant rights to civil partners and to cohabiting couples. The cohabiting couple must have been in an intimate relationship for 5 years, or 2 years if they have a dependent child.

These rights include the right to seek a maintenance order or other financial provision from the estate of the cohabitant.

Did you know you could arrange a cohabitation agreement which would be legally binding between you?

Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabiting couple can enter into a cohabitation agreement which can make certain provisions as to how the couple will deal with financial and other matters during, and on the termination, of the cohabitation. It would be intended that the cohabitation agreement would be legally binding between the parties.

Alternatively, a cohabitation agreement can allow the parties to opt out of the provisions of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act 2010 as section 202 provides:

202.— (1) Notwithstanding any enactment or rule of law, cohabitants may enter into a cohabitants’ agreement to provide for financial matters during the relationship or when the relationship ends, whether through death or otherwise.

(2) A cohabitants’ agreement is valid only if—

(a) the cohabitants—

(i) have each received independent legal advice before entering into it, or

(ii) have received legal advice together and have waived in writing the right to independent legal advice,

(b) the agreement is in writing and signed by both cohabitants, and

(c) the general law of contract is complied with.

(3) Subject to subsection (4), a cohabitants’ agreement may provide that neither cohabitant may apply for an order for redress referred to in section 173 , or an order for provision from the estate of his or her cohabitant under section 194 .

(4) The court may vary or set aside a cohabitants’ agreement in exceptional circumstances, where its enforceability would cause serious injustice.

(5) An agreement that meets the other criteria of this section shall be deemed to be a cohabitants’ agreement under this section even if entered into before the cohabitation has commenced.

The agreement would make provision as to

  • Legal advice
  • Sole property
  • Joint property
  • Financial disclosure
  • Separate property
  • Opting out of applying for an Order for Redress as provided in section 173 of the Act or for an Order provided in section 194 of the Act
  • Personal maintenance
  • Division of living expenses
  • Children, including maintenance, guardianship, parenting arrangements
  • Debts
  • Succession/inheritance (with the parties agreeing to waive any right to a share in each other’s estate or each party will execute a will in an agreed fashion
  • Termination of the relationship and what will happen
  • Termination of the deed/cohabitation agreement

The agreement could schedule the separate property of the parties and provide for the parties living together with contributions to be made by the parties in an agreed proportion. Schedules of cohabitants’ assets and means and joint property could also be included as part of the legally binding agreement.

If you are interested in having a cohabitation agreement drafted use the contact form to make an enquiry, we would be happy to help.