Family Law – Maintenance

Maintenance is financial support (money) paid by a person for the benefit of a dependent spouse/civil partner and/or dependent children. Spouses/civil partners are required to maintain each other according to their means and needs. Parents, whether married or not, are responsible for the maintenance of their dependant children.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement about maintenance an application can be made to the court for a maintenance order.

A spouse/civil partner applying to the court for maintenance must establish that the other spouse/civil partner has failed to provide such maintenance as is proper in the circumstances. The court decides what maintenance is proper in the circumstances of each individual case.

There is generally no responsibility on either party in a cohabitating relationship to pay maintenance where a relationship comes to an end. However, a ‘qualified cohabitant’ claiming to be financially dependent on an ex-partner may apply to the court for a ‘Compensatory Maintenance Order’.

Both parents have a responsibility to support their children financially. This applies to all parents, whether married, separated, living together or if they have never lived together. The parent with custody of the children has to take care of them and look after their day-to-day needs. The parent who does not have custody usually has to pay money to the parent with custody. This is to help cover the costs of taking care of the children.

A cohabitant of a person who is a parent, or a cohabitant of a person who has the day-to-day care (loco parentis) of a child may have to financially maintain the child, if that cohabitant is a guardian and is not the parent.

Parents, whether married or not, can apply for maintenance from the other parent for their children. A parent, legal guardian, health board or any person holding legal status in relation to a dependent child can apply for maintenance for the child.

A spouse/civil partner can apply for maintenance for themselves even if they are living with the other spouse/civil partner.

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