Maintenance (sometimes called child maintenance or child support) is a regular payment by the parent with whom the child or children spend a lesser amount time (often a non-resident parent),to the other parent, towards the cost of raising the child or children.

Put simply, maintenance is money paid to the parent the children live with most of the time, by the other parent, to pay towards the cost of caring for them.

In Irish law, both parents are obliged to provide for their dependent children according to their circumstances – whether they were/are married or not.

A dependent child for maintenance purposes is:

  • someone who is under 18, or
  • someone between 18 and 23 years if they are in full-time education, or
  • someone who has a mental or physical disability and where it is not reasonably possible for the child to maintain her/himself fully. In this case the duty to financially maintain that child continues indefinitely.

In some circumstances, maintenance may also be paid for an ex-spouse or former co-habitant.

Maintenance is paid regularly: weekly, fortnightly, or monthly; either by agreement between the two parents, by a Rule of Court, or because there is a court order in place that directs it.

If you receive a social welfare payment, such as the One Parent Family Payment, the Department of Social Protection will take some of the maintenance you receive into account.

Other main social welfare payments also include maintenance as income in the means test for the payment.