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After separation or divorce, there is a legal obligation under Irish law, to support your spouse/civil partner or children.   This doesn’t automatically have to be settled by a court, and you can reach agreement through Mediation or Collaborative Law – two methods I fully endorse (see more below). 

There are two possible types of maintenance in Ireland spousal maintenance and dependent child maintenance.

Spousal maintenance relates to the obligation which each married person or civil partner has to financially support the other.  Maintenance for children is payable for as long at the child remains legally dependent, which will be either age 18 or 23 (if still in education), but in the case of a medically dependent child, this obligation may be ongoing.

Contrary to what most people may believe there is no fixed rule in Ireland, to determine an appropriate figure for maintenance payments.  Each Order or Agreement for maintenance depends on the particular financial situation of the parties involved and can only be decided by reference to their finances at that particular time.

The courts take numerous factors into account when considering applications for maintenance including:  the income and expenditure of both parties, their assets and their debts/liabilities. They will also look at the particular needs of the children.

Most Maintenance applications will be made to the local District Court.  However, where a spouse or parent is applying for a Separation/Divorce in the Circuit Court or High Court, that parent can also include a claim for maintenance as part of this process.

However, as mentioned above, huge legal cost savings can be made if the terms of maintenance are agreed in advance of any court application for Divorce or Separation.  You can do this by using:.

1.  Mediation – a voluntary, non-binding method of resolving disputes.  Those involved in the dispute are helped to reach a solution by an independent and neutral third party (or parties). Find out more on www.deirdreburkemediation.ie

2. Collaborative Law – a method which allows the couple to reach agreement in an amicable, reasoned and creative way, without going to Court.  All negotiations take place through a number of four way settlement meetings that are attended by both Solicitors and their clients.  Find out more here.

Using such alternative methods of resolving disputes doesn’t just save money – they save time and stress levels by avoiding court.