Civil Partnership

Family Ties Linda Stanley CC BY 2.0









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 (Parties must not have been party to an existing civil partnership or marriage, they must also have the mental capacity to understand the nature of civil partnership).
  • Full and free consent.
  • Both parties must have been 18 years of age.


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.


Same sex marriage was introduced in Ireland by referendum of the people in May, 2015 and legislation came into effect on the 16th 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 enjoy.  The status of existing civil partnerships remain the same since that date.


Since the 16th of November, 2015, no new notifications of civil partnerships can be made. 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. Couples in a civil partnership can apply to marry or remain in a civil partnership. If they marry their civil partnership is automatically dissolved.


What are the tax implications for a civil partnership?


An extremely comprehensive leaflet produced by the Revenue Commissioners on the tax implications for civil partnerships can be found here.


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, where required in order to satisfy the standard of proper provision:

  • to make 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


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 of those of a married couple in respect of their adopted child. However, this part of the Act has not yet being commenced.


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 January 18, 2016 but does not have retrospective effect so an application for guardianship by a civil partner on this basis cannot be brought before the court until January 2018.


Image by Linda Stanley CC – BY – NC – 2.0



General Register Office

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Marriage Equality

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