Please see below some frequently asked questions regarding change in maintenance arising during the current Covid-19 crisis.
I have taken a financial hit during the Covid-19 crisis. Can I seek more maintenance/can I reduce my maintenance payments?
The first thing you need to do is communicate with your ex-spouse or ex-partner. Explain to them the impact the crisis has had on your finances (e.g. you have lost your job or your hours have been cut).
Everyone is aware of the current crisis and the impact it is having on household impacts. They should understand that the current situation isn’t within your control and it may well be that your former spouse/partner is also suffering financially.
You need to work together to see how the assets that you both have can be distributed fairly based on current needs. You might agree that the difference between what was agreed and what you can afford now will be paid back on a staggered basis in the future when you return to full-time employment.
A Court order is in place – can I stop paying?
The short answer is no, you cannot decided to stop paying when a Court order is in place. In normal circumstances, we would advise you to bring an application to vary maintenance (this can be brought to reduce or seek an increase in Court ordered maintenance).
However, if you can come to an agreement with your former spouse or partner then you should put this agreement in writing and arrange for you to both sign it. It might be that you agree to put a time limit on the reduction/increase e.g. 3 months or agree to review it a later stage when the crisis is easing.
If you cannot agree a reduction, please contact our office. We can assist you in determining what a Court may decide is appropriate based on both parties’ new financial situation. We can write to your former spouse or partner asking them to agree to a short term variation and explain why.
It can be difficult dealing with finances and your former spouse or partner at the best of times. Now, more than ever, people are struggling financially and emotionally due the uncertainty created by Covid-19.
You should try to work together to make an arrangement which is manageable for the person paying maintenance and also sufficient to meet the actual needs of the person receiving it.
Liston Family Law are specialist Family Law Solicitors in Limerick, Ennis and Nenagh. We are happy to provide assistance on maintenance matters. Please contact us or call our office for a consultation – 085 1577274 and we can talk you through maintenance and what you can do if you are unable to pay.