Expert Legal Representation for Same Sex Couples
Our friendly, empathetic, and approachable family law team here at McCarthy + Co provides legal counsel and support to those in same-sex relationships confronting divorce or related family law challenges. Recognising the distinctive challenges same-sex couples may face during divorce, we approach every case with sensitivity and understanding.
Navigating the end of a relationship can be challenging, and it’s crucial to make well-informed decisions. With the right legal guidance, you can safeguard your rights, whether you’re cohabiting, have a cohabitation agreement, or you are in a civil partnership or marriage. As a trusted and long-established law firm with offices across Ireland, we pride ourselves on our depth of knowledge and extensive experience in managing sensitive family law related matters.
The law in Ireland changed dramatically with the introduction of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, a statutory civil partnership registration scheme that first gave legal recognition to same-sex couples. However, since November 2015, same-sex couples are able to legally marry following the groundbreaking introduction of the Marriage Act 2015. Whilst civil partnerships that existed before 2015 are still recognised, this type of legal union is no longer granted. However, couples in civil partnerships have the right to marry and their previous civil union is automatically dissolved when they do so.
With these significant leaps forward in terms of unions and marriage for same-sex partners, the rules and rights surrounding divorce and separation largely apply regardless of sexual orientation. As it is with opposite-sex couples, your rights and legal obligations are dependant on how formalised your relationship is, be it a cohabitation agreement, a civil partnership, a marriage, or some other type of arrangement. In some situations, parental rights may differ to those in equivalent opposite-sex unions. Our team can help you to navigate these challenging issues to find a fair and reasonable outcome for all parties involved.
Expert Legal Representation for Same Sex Couples
Regardless of how formalised your relationship status is, the McCarthy + Co team can help you to resolve difficult family law related matters without the need for a protracted court case.
Our highly experienced team assist in the following areas:
- Legal Guidance – Offering expert advice on the complexities of family law as it applies to same-sex couples in Ireland.
- Rights Protection – Our team ensure the rights of both parties are upheld, particularly in areas that may have unique implications for same-sex couples.
- Asset Division – We provide advice on the equitable distribution of assets and debts acquired during the relationship or marriage.
- Child Custody & Support – Assisting you in determining the best interests of any children involved, establishing custody arrangements, visitation rights, and child support agreements.
- Spousal Support – We can help you to evaluate and arrange fair spousal support or maintenance settlements.
- Paperwork & Documentation – We handle all the necessary legal documents and filings, ensuring they are submitted to the correct court and in order.
- Negotiation – If your spouse does not agree to the terms of the separation or divorce, we can assist you in negotiations with their legal representatives.
- Representation in Court – In situations where your case must go to court for a judge to decide, we can represent you and ensure your voice is heard and your interests are protected.
No matter what stage you are at in terms of legally dissolving your relationship with a partner or spouse, the McCarthy + Co team are here to help with any legal issues you require assistance with. Simply complete our confidential consultation form and a member of our family law team will get back to you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Questions we are often asked in relation to divorce & separation.
What are the provisions of the Marriage Act 2015?
The Marriage Act 2015 legalises same-sex marriage, providing a legislative framework that upholds the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Irish Constitution. This act ensures that all marriages, irrespective of the gender of the partners, are recognised and treated equally under the law, thereby extending the same rights, responsibilities, and protections to same-sex couples that were previously afforded only to opposite-sex couples. It encapsulates Ireland's commitment to marriage equality, reflecting the societal acceptance and legal recognition of diverse relationships. Through this act, Ireland joined a growing list of countries that acknowledge and support marriage equality.
What is the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015?
The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 updated Ireland's family law to encompass non-traditional families, providing them with broader parental rights and duties. This act simplifies the adoption process for spouses or civil partners of biological parents and for those in committed relationships. Additionally, the legislation addresses matters related to donor-assisted reproduction, including sperm and egg donations.
What are my rights regarding children through surrogacy?
In Ireland, there isn't specific legislation addressing surrogacy. The laws pertaining to non-surrogate births determine the legal rights of those involved in surrogacy. The woman who gives birth, the surrogate, is legally recognised as the child's mother and guardian, even if her egg is not used and she's therefore not the biological mother. If she's married or had been married around the time of the conception, her husband is generally considered the child's father by law, as stated in Section 46 of the Status of Children Act 1987, making them joint guardians. If she's unmarried, she becomes the child's sole guardian. This can lead to legal issues when two same-sex parents separate or divorce, particularly if the biological father of the child has not applied for guardianship under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, or if the partner of the biological parent has not sought guardianship or custody rights after waiting the mandatory 2 years to be able to seek them. This is an area of Irish law where reform is long overdue.
What is the redress scheme for cohabitants?
The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 introduced a redress scheme for cohabiting couples, inclusive of same-sex couples, safeguarding a financially dependent partner if the relationship concludes. This allows the financially dependent partner to seek court orders akin to those accessible to married couples during separation or divorce, like property adjustment or maintenance orders. If a cohabitant passes away, the remaining partner can request provisions from the deceased partner's estate. Eligibility for this redress scheme requires cohabitation for a minimum of 5 years, or 2 years if sharing a child. However, if one partner is married, qualification is only possible if the married individual has lived separately from their spouse for at least 4 of the prior 5 years.
Clíodhna O’Regan leads the family law department at McCarthy + Co. Clíodhna’s educational background includes studying law and European studies at the University of Limerick, even completing a semester in Madrid where she navigated the complexities of law in Spanish.
Clíodhna can be contacted via email at: email@example.com
About McCarthy + Co
McCarthy + Co. are a team of solicitors with more than 30 years of experience in providing legal advice, guidance and assistance to clients across Ireland.
We are a family-run business with offices in Dublin and Cork, but we have dealt with clients everywhere from Galway and Limerick to Waterford. We are honest, plain-speaking and thorough – we will work alongside you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Our Awards & Accreditations
We are a multi-award winning firm, accredited by the Law Society of Ireland.
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Flor McCarthy wears multiple hats, not only as the managing partner of one of Ireland’s leading law firms, but also as an author, speaker and an acknowledged expert in client service, innovation and marketing.
Beginning his academic journey at UCC, Flor furthered his education with a master’s degree in law from UCD. After gaining valuable experience as a solicitor in Dublin, the allure of home and the family brought him back to West Cork to contribute his expertise to the family business.
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John McCarthy is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels.
John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.