How is maintenance decided and arranged?

Parents who have a child together have a legal responsibility to provide for their dependent child, according to their financial circumstances. This responsibility remains, when parents separate or the relationship breaks down so that one parent may pay towards the living costs of the child that are met by the other parent, usually the parent they live with.

Maintenance may be a private arrangement that is worked out between the child’s parents in terms of the amount of maintenance, the frequency of the maintenance payment and the way that the payment is made.

If the parents attend mediation then the maintenance payment may be one of the issues negotiated as part of wider family arrangements.

The parent with whom the child lives with for most of the time, can apply to the District Court (or the Circuit or High Court) for a summons for maintenance.  Each person needs to provide details of their income and expenditure for the court; this information is reviewed by the judge who will then put in place a Maintenance Order that sets out how much maintenance is paid and how often, according to each person’s financial circumstances.