A maintenance application at the District Court requires the issue of a maintenance summons. Maintenance may also form one of a number of applications as part of an application for separation or divorce, more typically before the Circuit Court, or as part of a guardianship/access application before the District Court.
The type of summons issued depends upon the status of your relationship with the Respondent; i.e. married, civil partners, qualified cohabitants, not married. An application can also be brought before the Court to discharge, vary or enforce an existing maintenance order.
A summons must in respect of an application for maintenance and where there has been a breach of a maintenance order. There are set forms which must be used and these are set out in the District Court Rules; located on the Courts website; and direction as to the correct form of maintenance summons to be used is readily available from every local District Court office.
All maintenance summons can be found here.
Once this document is filled out it must be signed and stamped by the relevant court office so that it is officially ‘issued’. As this work is done in the court office, the Applicant does not need to appear before the Judge to issue these proceedings.
The Summons must then be ‘served’ on the Respondent, either in person or by registered post, so the judge can be certain that the Respondent is aware of the court hearing. There are specific rules on the way these legal documents must be served as well as the timeframe in which they must be served, which differ depending upon the matter in dispute. For example an application for maintenance before the District Court requires maintenance summons to be issued against the respondent and to be served on him/her, in person or by registered post, at least 21 days before the court hearing.
Finally, the Applicant and the Respondent need to attend court on the day of the hearing to make the application before the judge.
Maintenance is assessed by the person’s ability to pay it and not just on the needs of the person seeking it. Both parties are required to submit to the court, a detailed list of all income and expenditure, this list is called a ’Statement of Means’, so that the Judge can examine the financial circumstances. It is worth taking the time to prepare this Statement of Means as it is easy to forget things and the Applicant and the Respondent may need to go back to it a few times before they are satisfied that it is complete.