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My ex-partner and I lived together for almost fifteen years until the recent breakdown of our relationship. We never married and we did not have any children together. We were both happy for me to stay at home while he worked. He continues to work and is very successful in his career. I was entirely dependent upon him financially and I find myself almost destitute now with no savings and no career. Please advise me of my rights.

 The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations Act, 2010 established a redress scheme for qualified cohabitants which may be activated at the end of a relationship or upon the death of one of the parties. This Act will automatically apply unless cohabitants have together agreed to opt out of the provisions of the Act.

A qualified cohabitant refers to two adults living together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship and who cohabit for a period of (i) two years or more if they are parents to a child or (ii) five years or more in any other case.

When such a relationship ends an economically dependent qualified cohabitant may seek redress. A Court has power to grant orders in respect of property, pension and maintenance to an economically dependent qualified cohabitant.

The Court will consider numerous matters including financial circumstances and earning capacity of each party, rights and entitlements of any spouse/former spouse or dependent children, duration of the parties relationship, contributions made in looking after the shared home, any physical or mental disability of a cohabitant and conduct of each party. Further, the Court will not make any order which would affect the rights of any spouse or former spouse of either cohabitant.

An application for redress must be brought within two years of the relationship ending. However if an application is seeking provision from the estate of the deceased partner then such an application must be made within 6 months

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