The term often erroneously used “common law wife/husband” gives many couples the wrong impression that they have certain rights. At present Irish Law does not make provision for any financial or property relief following the breakdown of such relationships. However this is about to change. The Government has now published the Civil Partnership Bill 2009. This Bill provides for the Registration of Civil Partnerships and for the consequences of that Registration, and provides for the rights and obligations of co-habitants and for connected matters. This legislation will allow same sex couples to register their Civil Partnership for the first time. Under this bill once a Civil Partnership is registered, the couple will be dealt with in the same way as a married couple by the Revenue Commissioners. This Bill will give people in long term relationships many of the Statutory Rights of married couples.

In relation to both unregistered same sex and unmarried opposite sex co-habitants, the Bill proposed the creation of a Redress Scheme under which one partner may apply to Court for various reliefs on the dissolution of a relationship.

The Bill proposes to create new Law governing co-habitants allowing them to apply for various Orders including Maintenance, Property and Pension Adjustment Orders. The Bill when published will fundamentally change Law in relation to non married couples in Ireland. It will have a profound effect on both same sex and opposite sex co-habiting couples.