Maintenance is financial support paid by a person to his/her dependent spouse, former spouse, civil partner or ex-cohabitant. Maintenance can be sought by a married person from his/her spouse, on a needs basis, or can be sought as part of a separation or divorce application. A qualified cohabitant can seek a maintenance order on the breakdown of the relationship if he/she can prove financial dependency arising from the nature of the cohabiting relationship.
Child maintenance is paid by a parent to support the needs of his/her dependent child. All parents and legal guardians, whether married or not, have a responsibility to financially provide for their dependent children. A dependent child is defined as under the age of 18, up to the age of 23 if in full time education or possibly indefinitely if the individual has a disability.
Individuals may informally arrange financial support without the courts involvement.
The type of summons issued depends on the status of the relationship between the parties. Maintenance can also be sought as part of an application for guardianship or access. An order can be made on its own or as part of a consent order for separation or divorce through the Circuit or High Court.
If applying for maintenance through the District Court an Applicant attends the court and completes a maintenance summons. Once this document has been completed it must be signed and stamped by the relevant court office and is then officially issued. The summons must be served on the Respondent, either in person within 14 days, or by registered post within 21 days, so the courts can be satisfied that he/she is aware of the summons.
Specific court forms can be located on the courts website.
The original summons, statutory declaration and the postage proof of summons must be lodged with the District Court clerk at least two days before the date of the court hearing.
Extra information and assistance can be obtained at every local district court office or through Legal Aid.
The Applicant and the Respondent have to attend the court on the day of the hearing to make the application before a Judge. Both parties can represent themselves, employ a solicitor or apply for Legal Aid.
The Applicant and the Respondent are required to submit a detailed list of all income and expenditure called a ‘Statement of Means’ Maintenance is assessed by the person’s ability to pay as well as the needs of the person seeking it, the court will decide on each individual case. Both parties can re-apply to vary or discharge the order if circumstances change.
An Applicant can seek a contribution from a Respondent towards expenses related to a birth or death of a dependent child. A one-off payment may also be sought from the courts for a special occasion.