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Family Law

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27 SEP 2011

Cohabitation law reform in Ireland [2011] CFLQ 323

This article considers the new Irish legislative scheme for cohabitants, contained in Part 15 of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. The article discusses the background to the legislation, noting the increase in the prevalence of cohabitation in Ireland and the complexity created by the decision to proceed with reform without attempting to update the provisions of the Irish Constitution related to the family. The Irish scheme provides for a range of possible remedies for 'qualifying cohabitants', who must have lived together for at least 5 years, or for at least 2 years if they have a dependent child. The scheme also regulates the making of 'cohabitants' agreements'. A key limitation on the scheme is that the claimant must establish 'financial dependency' as a prerequisite of a remedy. This significantly limits the scope of the scheme and is likely to generate anomalous results, whereby a remedy will be denied to claimants who have suffered serious loss as a result of a relationship but who have not become 'financially dependent'. The article concludes that, in light of the scheme's limited nature and the various problems with its provisions, it is questionable whether its enactment represents a positive development.

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