The Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform has published the long awaited Civil Partnership Bill 2009. The purpose of the Bill is to establish a statutory civil partnership registration scheme for same sex couples together with a range of rights obligations and protections consequent on registration. The Bill also sets out the manner in which civil partnerships may be dissolved and with what conditions.

The Bill also sets out a redress scheme for co-habiting couples who are not married or registered in a civil partnership. The redress scheme may be activated at the end of a relationship whether by break-up or by death and allows a financially dependent co-habitant to apply to the Court for certain remedies including maintenance, property or pension adjustment orders or the provision from the estate of a deceased co-habitant. The scheme can apply to couples of opposite sex and same sex .

The Bill also makes express provision for the recognition of co-habitant agreements which regulate the shared financial affairs of co-habiting couples and enables couples to opt out of the application to them of the redress scheme.