Civil Partnership

The Civil Partnership Act became 'live' on 1st January 2011. Same-sex couples can now enter a Civil Partnership in Ireland, which carries an extensive range of marriage-like rights and obligations. These rights and obligations also apply to almost all foreign same-sex civil marriages and civil partnerships. This section answers some of the FAQs on civil partnership, including outlining how to enter a civil partnership

Update on Tax Elements of Civil Partnership:

Update 28th July: Presidents Signs Finance Bill. See GLEN Press Release: Huge Progress for Same-Sex Couples.  Civil Partners are now treated the same as married opposite-sex couples in taxation. See the Revenue website for full details and FAQ.

Update 19th July: Finance No.3 Bill passes all stages of the Seanad, and goes back to the Dail for completion.

Update: 13th July: The Finance No.3 Bill passed the second stage of the Seanad debates today. The next stage is the Committee Stage, due to take place in the Seanad on 19th July. 

Update: 7th July: The Finance No.3 Bill passed all stages of the Dáil last night and now goes to the Seanad for debate and voting. It is anticipated that the Bill will be enacted before the summer recess.

Update: 30th June: Dail Select Committee on Finance have passed the Finance No.3 Bill without amendment. It now goes back to the Dail for report and final stage before moving to the Seanad. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan stated that he expects the Bill to be passed before the Summer Dail recess. He also stated that the provisions will be backdated to 1st January 2011.

Update: 10th June: Revenue Commissioners have updated their website with questions and answers on the tax provisions for Civil Partners included in the new Finance No 3 Bill.

9th June 2011: Today (9th June) the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan TD., published Finance (No.3) Bill 2011 which will give effect to the taxation aspects of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights of Cohabitants Act 2010.

The Bill provides for civil partners to be treated the same as married couples for taxation purposes, including income tax, stamp duty, capital acquisitions tax, capital gains tax and VAT.

The Bill also provides that a child whose parent is in a civil partnership will be treated the same, for tax purposes, as a child of a married couple. This means, for example, that children of civil partners will be treated the same for inheritance tax as children of a married couple.

For further information, and links to the Bill, see the GLEN News item on the publication of the Bill.

10th June 2011: Revenue publish a Questions and Answers on the tax provisions for Civil Partners in the Finance Bill.

 

Update on Civil Partnership and Citizenship:

Update August 2nd: President Signs Civil Law (Miscellaneous) Act 2011: the Act includes provisions to provide for equal treatment for civil partners on citizenship. See GLEN Press Release for further details.

July 18th: Minister for Justice Alan Shatter proposes amendments to the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 to provide for equal treatment of civil partners and married couples in acquiring citizenship. See GLEN News section.

April 2011: Citizenship Law has not yet been updated to include Civil Partnership (which would allow civil partners to apply for citizenship of Ireland three years after their civil partnership to an Irish citizen, in the same way as opposite-sex spouses) In response to a Dáil question by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D. , the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter TD, said:

"It is my intention that in immigration-related matters, civil partnerships registered in Ireland or recognised by Irish law will, so far as is possible, be treated the same as marriages. It would be consistent with this approach to apply the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) to the civil partners of Irish citizens. It would be my intention to bring forward an amendment to this effect at a future date."

He went on to state that:
"Until I secure the relevant amendment to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) I intend, in appropriate cases, where there is a registered civil partnerships recognised under the relevant legislation here, to use my discretion to grant certificates of naturalisation to persons involved in such relationships in situations in which naturalisation would be granted to an applicant who is a non-Irish national spouse of an Irish spouse."

 

Civil Partnership General Questions: 

 Civil partners now have a comprehensive set of protections, rights and obligations equivalent to those of civil marriage across a wide range of areas including shared home protections, residential tenancies, refugee law, pensions, taxation, maintenance, next of kin, social welfare, domestic violence, inheritance, equality law, enduring power of attorney and immigration. The taxation provisions are due to be brought in by the new government.

There are a range of publications that provide further information on Civil Partnerships

The GLEN publication Information Note on Civil Partnership answers some of the main questions on civil partnership - also answered below. A GLEN publication Civil Partnership: Your Questions Answered has a detailed analysis of the Bill as published (it will shortly be updated to reflect the Act as passed by parliament and the further Social Welfare and Finance Acts, once passed).

See also other sections of the GLEN website - Relationship Recognition, Parenting and Children and Immigration for further information about these areas, including information on the the work done to achieve civil partnership and the ongoing work to secure legal reform in the areas of parenting and civil marriage.

Please contact us if you have any further queries, or the relevant other agencies, as below.

What is a civil partnership?

A civil partnership is formal legal recognition by the State of a relationship between two people of the same-sex. It's a legal union between two people who agree to love and care for each other for life. Civil partnership is a different legal union to that of civil marriage. However, civil partners will enjoy most of the same rights and responsibilities of a married couple. The way you enter into a civil partnership and a civil marriage are almost identical.

Who can enter into a civil partnership?

Any two people of the same-sex can enter into a civil partnership, once they are aged 18 years or over and are not already married or in an existing civil partnership.

How do I enter into a civil partnership?

You and your partner must give at least three months written notice, delivered in person to any Registrar. Registrars are located in the civil registration office of the county in which you want your civil partnership to take place. This notification will also involve you both making a declaration that there is no legal impediment to the registration of your civil partnership.

Once you have taken these steps, the Registrar will issue a ‘civil partnership registration form' which will remain valid for six months during which time you can enter into your civil partnership.

In exceptional cases the three month notice period can be lifted by the Circuit or High Court. The General Register Office has published an information booklet on civil partnership registration in Ireland.

See www.groireland.ie for further information.

What happens at a civil partnership ceremony?

Like a civil marriage, a civil partnership ceremony must take place in a public place, in the presence of the Registrar and at least two witnesses (aged at least 18).

The civil partnership ceremony has two legal requirements - the oral declaration (where you make your commitment aloud) and the signing of the civil partnership register.

The format of your ceremony can be agreed with the Registrar (e.g. should you wish to involve family and friends in the ceremony for readings and music this can be agreed with the Registrar).

See www.groireland.ie for further details.

Who performs the civil partnership ceremony?

Again, like a civil marriage, your civil partnership ceremony will be performed by a Civil Registrar.

Where can I have my civil partnership?

Your civil partnership ceremony may take place in a registry office or in an approved venue. The Registrar can advise you on the list of approved venues. In the case of serious certified illness the ceremony may be held in a place chosen by the couple and agreed with the Registrar.

What should we do first - set our date or make an appointment with the Registrar?

It's a good idea to make an appointment with the Registrar before you set the date of your civil partnership, otherwise a Registrar may not be available.

What term will my partner and I be called afterwards?

You will be known in official documents as civil partners.

How serious a commitment is a civil partnership?

Civil partnership provides a very wide range of protections and rights to same-sex couples akin to those in civil marriages. It also provides a significant set of mutual obligations for each civil partner, for example the obligation to financially maintain your partner and share resources. This also applies at dissolution of a civil partnership.

Do we have to live together when we are civil partners?

Part of the oral declaration that you make during the civil partnership ceremony is that you intend to live with and support your partner. This means you will share your life with your partner and take care of them but does not require you to cohabit with your partner.

Do we both have to be living in Ireland to get a civil partnership?

Neither partner needs to be living in Ireland to get a civil partnership here. You must still give at least three months written notification to any Registrar.

Provision is available, by prior arrangement, to notify the Registrar by post of your intention to enter into a civil partnership ceremony if you live outside the State. If you do this, you must meet with the Registrar not less than five days before your ceremony, and make a declaration that there is no legal impediment to your civil partnership.

What difference will civil partnership make to us in relation to taxation?

Civil partners will be treated like married couples when it comes to taxation. For example, civil partners will be able to opt for joint assessment for income tax. Civil partners will not be liable for stamp duty where one partner transfers property to another, and will not be liable for inheritance or gift tax in the event of one partner giving money or property to the other either as a gift or in their will in the event of death.

The tax elements are due to be enacted by the next Government. See the Revenue website www.revenue.ie for further details.

What difference will civil partnership make to us in relation to social welfare?

Civil partners will be treated like married opposite-sex couples when it comes to social welfare. For example the widow's/widower's pension will be available to a surviving civil partner or if one partner is applying for social welfare assistance his/her partner's income will be taken into account.

Equally, the social welfare system will now treat cohabiting same-sex couples the same as cohabiting opposite-sex couples.

See www.welfare.ie for further information.

What difference will civil partnership make to us in relation to next of kin?

Next of kin is not defined in legislation. However updates to the Equality legislation as a result of civil partnership means that hospitals and other service providers are required to treat civil partners in the same manner as married opposite-sex couples. As a rule of thumb spouses rank first in next of kin terms, followed by children, parents and siblings in that order.

Can I enter into a civil partnership with my partner who is from outside the EU?

Yes. There are no residence requirements to enter a civil partnership in Ireland. Normal immigration regulations will apply to the non-Irish partner.

It may be possible for your partner to live and work in Ireland undercertain conditions. See the Immigration section of this website for further information and see the Irish Immigration and Naturalisation Service website for more information, www.inis.gov.ie

My partner and I have children together. Will civil partnership entitle the non-birth parent to form a legal relationship with our children?

Even with Civil Partnership the non-birth parent will not be able to form a legal relationship with their non-biological child/children.

However the Government's Law Reform Commission has recently published a report on the Legal Aspects of Family Relationships which recommends extending parental responsibility (guardianship) to civil partners.

See www.lawreform.ie for details.

See also the Parenting and Children section of this website for further information on the work of GLEN in seeking to achieve legal recognition and support for same-sex headed families.

My partner and I have a civil partnership/civil marriage from another country; what is the status of our relationships here?

Almost all foreign same-sex marriages or civil partnerships will automatically be recognised as an Irish civil partnership, provided that they meet certain conditions from 13th January, 2011.

Subsequent civil marriages, civil partnerships or domestic partnerships from these countries will also be automatically recognised.

Refer to the Department of Justice and Law Reform for a full list of recognised civil marriages/civil partnerships. www.justice.ie

What are the provisions for ending a civil partnership?

Civil partners may want to seek a dissolution (which is similar to a divorce). In order to get a dissolution partners must have been living apart for two out of the previous three years.

Like divorce, dissolution will involve a court decision that ensures proper provision has been made for a financially dependent partner. A court can make payment orders in respect of maintenance, property, the shared home and pensions.