Family Law: Maintenance

Maintenance is financial support paid on a regular basis to a former spouse, civil partner or cohabitant to assist with their living expenses and those of dependent children. Children are deemed dependent until they reach 18 years—or 23 years if they are in full-time education. If you require guidance on a maintenance agreement, our expert family law solicitors can help. If the parties cannot agree on maintenance, we can help you apply to the court for a maintenance order.

Who May Apply for Maintenance?

You may apply to the other parent of your children for maintenance, whether you are married or not. A legal guardian or other person with legal status regarding a child may also apply for maintenance for that child. You may apply for maintenance from your spouse or civil partner to support yourself, even if you are living with them.

Maintenance for spouses/civil partners

If you are seeking a court order for maintenance, you must establish that the other party has not provided the proper maintenance. It is up to the court to determine what constitutes proper maintenance in each case.

Maintenance for cohabitating couples

Although neither party in a cohabiting relationship is usually obliged to pay maintenance when the relationship ends, if a qualified cohabitant claims to be financially dependent on the other party, they may seek a Compensatory Maintenance Order in court.

Maintenance of children

It is the responsibility of all parents—married, separated, cohabiting, or otherwise—to support their dependent children financially. Although the parent with custody of the children takes care of their day-to-day needs, the parent without custody usually has to pay maintenance to the other parent to help cover the costs of child-rearing.  Cohabitants who are the guardian rather than the parent of a child in the care of the other cohabitant (whether the other cohabitant is the parent or acting in loco parentis) may have to pay maintenance.

Maintenance limits 

Outside of the court

If you come to an informal agreement about maintenance, there is no limit on the amount of maintenance payable.

From the court 

The District Court can order a maximum of €150 in maintenance per child per week from either parent. It can order a spouse or civil partner to pay a maximum of €500 per week to the other spouse. The maximum that the District Court can order a spouse/civil partner to pay for the other spouse is €500 per week.  Beyond these amounts, one parent can apply for a contribution toward birth or funeral expenses of a dependent child from the other parent. The maximum they can claim in the District Court for either of these circumstances is €2,000.  Lump sums can also be sought from the other parent for back-to-school, Christmas, or other expenses, up to a maximum of €6,350.  For larger amounts, the claimant must go to the Circuit Court or the High Court.

How to apply for a maintenance order

The experienced family law solicitors at HOMS Assist can make an application for maintenance on your behalf. If you decide to tackle the process yourself, you will need to contact the District Court office in your local area to issue a maintenance summons.  The summons must be served on the respondent a minimum of 14 days before the court hearing date. If the summon is being served by registered prepaid post, it must be done at least 21 days before that date. Once served, the original summons, an accompanying statutory declaration as to service, and proof of postage must be lodged with the District Court clerk at least two days before the hearing. You are also required to be in court on the day to make your application.

If you are applying for maintenance as part of judicial separation or divorce proceedings in the Circuit Court or the High Court, the court that decides maintenance should be the court dealing with the separation or divorce proceedings. This also applies to requests to discharge or vary the maintenance order. You can also apply for maintenance as part of child custody, access, and other applications.

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