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A statutory civil partnership registration scheme for same-sex couples has been introduced under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. The Act also sets out the rights and obligations that such couples have towards each other. These are broadly the same as the rights and obligations of married couples towards each.
The Act came into effect on 1st January 2011. Necessary changes to the tax and social welfare codes are also being made.
Civil Partnerships registered by Civil Registrars of can only take place on assigned appointment times from Monday – Friday (excluding public/bank holidays and weekends).
Registration of civil partnerships
Under the Act same-sex couples can register their relationship as a civil partnership. The Registrar-General is obliged to maintain a register of civil partnerships, a register of decrees of dissolution of civilpartnerships and a register of nullity of civil partnerships. The registration rules and processes are broadly similar to those for the registration of a civil marriage, annulments of marriage and divorce.
Civil partnerships may simply be registered. There is no necessity to have a civil partnership ceremony, unlike marriages which require a marriage ceremony. Civil partners may choose to have a ceremony and, if they do, the requirements are similar to those that apply to marriage ceremonies.
The courts have the power to declare a civil partnership to be valid or invalid. The courts already had such a power in relation to marriage.
The Act provides that the Minister for Justice and Law Reform may make orders recognising classes of legal relationships which are registered as civil partnerships in other countries and which meet certain criteria.
There are various reasons why you may not be allowed to marry – legally, these are known as impediments. The main ones are age, consanguinity (close blood relationship) and an existing valid marriage. An existing valid civil partnership is also an impediment to marriage. Similar impediments also apply to civil partnerships.
If a civil partner dies, the main responsibility for registering the death rests with the surviving partner.
Formalities for registration
The formalities are broadly similar to the formalities for marriage. Among other things, this means that you must give three months’ notice of your intention to enter into a civil partnership to a registrar. There is provision for an exemption from this requirement to give three months notification – you may apply to the Circuit Court or the High Court for such an exemption. You must be free to enter into a civil partnership, that is, there must be no impediments to your doing so. A civil partnership ceremony must be held at an approved venue.
Civil Partnerships registered by Civil Registrars can only take place on assigned appointment times from Monday – Friday (excluding public/bank holidays and weekends).
Civil partnerships may be registered only by civil registrars; marriages may be registered by registered religious solemnisers.Click here for a full list of Civil Registration Offices
The rules about who may enter a civil partnership are similar to the rules about who may marry. In general, that means you must be aged 18 or over, not be already married or in an existing valid civil partnership, not be closely related and be capable of consenting to entering the relationship.
Further information on civil partnership registration is available on the General Registrar's website.