Maintenance is the legal responsibility of a person to make payments in favour of a dependent person.

Maintenance may be paid weekly or monthly in the form of periodic payments, or in a lump sum.

Applications may also be made to the District Court if there is a failure of a person to comply with the maintenance order.

Maintenance arrangements can be agreed between the two parties, or can be ordered following an application to the court. Where a party fails to comply with the arrangements, an application can be made to the District Court for breach of the maintenance order.

A maintenance order secured in another EU jurisdiction can also be enforced by the District Court once either of the parties involved is resident in Ireland.

Information on how to apply for maintenance can be found here.

Who can apply for maintenance?

Spouses/Civil partners

A spouse or civil partner can apply for maintenance during the course of a marriage/civil partnership.

A spouse can apply for maintenance on application for, or whilst awaiting an order of judicial separation or divorce of the marriage.

A civil partner may apply upon application for, or whilst awaiting a decree of dissolution of the civil partnership.

Former spouses and civil partners may also apply for maintenance, or for an increase or decrease in existing maintenance following divorce or dissolution.


A cohabitant must be a qualified cohabitant in order to apply for maintenance upon the breakdown of the relationship.

A qualified cohabitant is:

  • Someone who has lived with the other person for at least five years, or two years where the cohabitants have a child together
  • Someone who is financially dependent on the other cohabitant


Both married and unmarried parents can apply for maintenance in support of a dependent child against the other biological or adoptive parent.

A dependent child is:

  • a child under the age of 18
  • under the age of 23 and in full-time education
  • a child who has a mental or physical disability and as a result is unable to maintain themselves

Under the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, a parent can now apply to require a person who is not the biological or adoptive parent of their child, to pay maintenance in support of that child where the non-parent is also a legal guardian of the child.

This includes:

  • a person who has cohabited with the parent for at least three years
  • a person who is married to the parent
  • a person who is in a civil partnership with the parent

The non-parent must have shared responsibility with the parent for the child’s day-to-day care for at least 2 years.

The court will consider the application based on factors such as the income and financial responsibilities of all parties.