Marriage Act 2015

Questions and Answers

When can the first marriage of a same-sex couple take place?
The commencement order sets 16 November as the date on which the Marriage Act 2015 comes into effect.  A marriage can take place between two persons of the same sex from that date onwards.

I am in a civil partnership and wish to marry.  What do I have to do?
A civilly partnered couple who wish to marry should contact the registrar who will guide them through the process.  If the couple registered their civil partnership in Ireland, they will not have to give three months’ notice.  If the couple registered their civil partnership outside Ireland, they will have to give the same notice period of three months as all other couples wishing to marry.

We have notified the registrar of our intention to enter a civil partnership.  We wish to change this into a notification of our intention to marry.  How should we go about this?
The registrar is contacting couples who have already given notice of their intention to enter a civil partnership to inform them that they can convert this into a notification of their intention to marry.  If the registrar has not already been in contact, such couples should contact the registrar to confirm that they wish to marry.  The registrar will then guide them through the process.  They can use the date originally planned for their civil partnership for their marriage instead.

We have notified the registrar of our intention to enter a civil partnership.  We wish to go ahead with our civil partnership.  Will we be able to do so?
Yes.  Couples who have already notified the registrar before 16 November of their intention to enter a civil partnership will be able to go ahead and register a civil partnership, provided they complete the civil partnership registration form before the end of this week. They may then proceed to enter a civil partnership within the six-month period of validity of the form.

Will it be possible for couples to notify their intention to enter civil partnership after 16 November?
No.  Civil partnership will be closed to new entrants.  Couples will have to have completed their civil partnership registration form before 16 November.

Will marriages contracted in other jurisdictions be recognised automatically?  Do I have to do anything?
If a marriage was contracted lawfully between two persons in another jurisdiction, that marriage will be recognised automatically in Ireland as of 16 November.  The couple do not need to take any further action.

I am in a civil partnership and wish to remain as a civil partner.  Can I do so?
Yes.  There is no obligation on any civilly partnered couple to marry.  They can continue as civil partners.  Their rights and obligations will not be affected by the Marriage Act 2015.

Will churches be forced to perform marriages between same-sex couples?
No.  The Marriage Act 2015 explicitly states that neither it nor any other enactment will compel a religious body to recognise a particular form of marriage ceremony.  The religious body will have the choice itself on whether to marry same-sex couples or not to marry them.  

What sort of vows can be made by a same-sex couple?
Any couple marrying in a civil ceremony will be able to take one another as husband, wife or spouse, as the case may be.  Religious bodies will be able to retain their existing declarations whereby a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife.  They will also be free to adopt the new declarations if they wish.

Will any impediments remain in place?
The same impediments will operate for same-sex couples as for opposite-sex couples but modified to take account of the sex of the parties.  A couple cannot marry if within certain prohibited degree of relationship.  These relate to relationships of consanguinity where a couple are related by blood such as an uncle and a niece or nephew.  They also relate to relationships of affinity, where a couple are related by marriage.  A step-father cannot marry a step-child, for instance.

What is the situation concerning civil partners who entered a registered partnership abroad (i.e. a relationship prescribed under a section 5 order as equivalent to civil partnership)?
A same-sex couple who enter a registered partnership by 15 May  2016 in another jurisdiction will be recognised as civil partners in Ireland.  A partnership registered from 16 May 2016 onwards will not be recognised as a civil partnership in Ireland.