Child Maintenance

My partner and I have two children together. We are about to separate and I want to discuss the issue of maintenance with my partner. What are our options? We are not married, will this affect matters?

Child maintenance is regular, reliable financial support that helps towards a child’s everyday living costs. Parents are obliged to maintain dependent children in accordance with their means. It does not matter if the child’s parents are married or not but any maintenance paid is forthe benefit of the child. Maintenance is payable in respect of children under the age of 18, or 23if the childis in full-time education. However, if a childhas a mental or physical disability to such a degree that it will not be possible forthe childto maintain him/herself fully, then there is no cut off point for maintenance.

Parents to dependent children may come to an informal arrangement regarding maintenance. They should work out what is fair and reasonable given each party’s financial status and decide how much, how often and through what method maintenance will be paid.

If such informal arrangement proves unsuccessful parents may engage a mediator to assist. Alternatively, parents may employ a Solicitor to act as negotiator. Maintenance arrangements may then be formalised with each parent signing a Maintenance Agreement.

If parents cannot agree upon maintenance, either party may apply to Court fora MaintenanceOrder. Each parent must disclose their finances to the Court. The judge will consider all of the family’s circumstances before making a MaintenanceOrder which is in effect a Court Order obliging a parent to pay maintenance.

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