Maintenance Payments for Children
Parents are responsible for maintaining their dependent children up to the child’s 18th birthday or up to the age of 23 if the child is in full time education. If the child has a mental or physical disability to the extent that it is not reasonably possible for the child to maintain her/himself fully then there is no upper age limit for seeking maintenance for her/his support.
If you find that you need to secure a maintenance payment from the father/mother of your child you can:
1. Attempt to reach an amicable agreement. This will work where both parents are reasonable and fair. This agreement may be handed to the District Court Judge who can make it a “rule of court” giving the agreement the same status as a Court Order. In this instance when making the application the Judge must be satisfied that it is fair and reasonable given the parties’ financial status and that the agreement is in the child’s/children’s best interests.
2. If agreement cannot be reached then it is necessary to apply to the District Court Office and request that they issue a maintenance summons. Both parties will need to make full financial disclosure. The maximum amount that the District Court can award in respect of maintenance for each child is €150.00 per week. The Circuit Court has no upper limit in awarding maintenance. if the matter is heard by the Judge both parties will need to give evidence as to their income and expenditure and each may cross examine the other in regard to same.
How much will I be awarded?
There is no simple answer to this question. In default of agreement the Judge will take into account the needs of the child/ children and the financial status of each parent and make an order for the amount that the Judge considers appropriate in the circumstances.
It is also possible to make an application for a one off lump sum payment in respect of expenses regarding a child. The maximum amount that the District Court can award is €6,350.00
Can the amount of maintenance change?
It is open to either parent to apply to the Court for a variation order in regard to maintenance. The application can be brought if there has been a significant change in the financial status of either parent. For example, child expenses might increase sharply when they move to second level education or there may be a change in one parent’s income where for example one loses a job.
If you receive a summons and do not attend court orders can be made in your absence.
It is possible to appeal a District Court Order to the Circuit Court in certain cases and within certain time limits.
If you have any queries please contact Michelle Gilbourne on 069 77583