Who pays maintenance?
There are two types of maintenance payable under Irish law, namely, spousal and dependent child’s maintenance.
Spousal maintenance: married people or civil partners have a legal duty to financially each other.
Dependent child maintenance: is payable until the child is 18 or up until their 23rd birthday if they are still in full-time education. If the child has significant medical needs the obligation to pay maintenance might continue.
How much do you have to pay?
The parties can decide between themselves how much maintenance will be paid. We recommend that the agreement is written up and ruled by the Court. That means the agreement is, in effect, a Court order and if either party fails to meet their obligations under the agreement, the matter can be brought before a judge. Having it ruled makes it more unlikely to be broken.
If the parties can’t agree, then the courts decide maintenance on a case by case basis. Clients often want to know exactly how much they will pay/receive but there is no formula for deciding maintenance.
The majority of applications are made in the District Court and will be decided on the basis of need and the ability to pay.
How does the Court decide?
The financial situation of both parties will be reviewed. Each party must provide the Court with a signed Statement of Means that sets out their financial position including:
You will also need to provide “vouching” which is evidence of the above (e.g. bank statements, utility bills etc.).
Failing to pay maintenance is dealt with seriously by the Court and failing to pay can lead to people being jailed where it is believed they have the ability to pay but have chosen not to do so.
If you are trying to reach an agreement with your former spouse or partner, you should consider availing of free mediation through Family Mediation Ireland.
Not every maintenance matter should go to Court and the parties can save themselves a lot of money by working together to reach an agreement.
Liston Family Law would like to wish all our clients and prospective clients good health during this difficult time.