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Maintenance is financial support paid by a person to his/her dependent spouse/civil partner and/or dependent children. Maintenance can be paid periodically (weekly or monthly) and/or in a lump sum.

Upon the breakdown of a relationship, there is no clean break from the obligation to financially support a former spouse/civil partner and dependent children. In the case of marital breakdown, maintenance can be sought as part of a separation or divorce application. A qualified cohabitant can also seek a maintenance order on the breakdown of the relationship if he/she can prove financial dependency arising from the nature of the cohabiting relationship.

Maintenance is always open to review and you can apply to the court any time after the decree of judicial separation or divorce is granted for a maintenance order or to have an existing maintenance order varied (increased or decreased). This also applies following the dissolution of a civil partnership. However, this ongoing right to apply to the court for maintenance does not apply where the applicant has re-married and the application for maintenance concerns themselves (and not any dependent children).  

Child Maintenance

Child maintenance is paid by a parent to support the needs of his/her dependent child.

All parents and legal guardians, whether married or not, have a responsibility to financially provide for their dependent children.

A dependent child is defined as under the age of 18, or up to the age of 23 if in full time education. If a child has a disability, the duty to financially provide for him/her may remain indefinitely.

For further information and resources on child maintenance, click here.

Maintenance Arrangements 

Voluntary Maintenance

You may informally arrange financial support without the court’s involvement. These agreements can be written up and made a Rule of Court which is a legally binding agreement. If the agreement is not made a Rule of Court, it is NOT legally binding. Mediation may be useful in helping the parties reach an agreement.

An informal agreement does not prevent you from applying for a maintenance order in the future.

Maintenance Orders 

If an agreement cannot be reached informally, you can apply to the court for a maintenance order. These applications are usually made in the District Court. Maintenance can also be sought as part of an application for guardianship or access. An application can be made on its own or as part of a consent order for separation or divorce.

If applying for maintenance through the District Court, the applicant (person seeking the maintenance order) attends the court and completes a maintenance summons. Once this document has been completed, it must be signed and stamped by the relevant court office and is then officially issued. The summons must be served on the respondent, either in person within 14 days, or by registered post within 21 days, so the courts can be satisfied that he/she is aware of the summons.

Application forms for maintenance are available on the Courts Service website. 

The original summons, statutory declaration and the postage proof of summons must be lodged with the District Court clerk at least two days before the date of the court hearing.


The applicant and the respondent have to attend the court on the day of the hearing to make the application before a judge.

Both parties can represent themselves, employ a solicitor or apply for Legal AidYou can check whether you are likely to qualify for legal aid here. Applications for civil legal aid can be made online or through your local law centre 

Calculating Maintenance

There is no legal formula for calculating maintenance; it will vary depending on the circumstances of the case.

Both the applicant and the respondent are required to submit a detailed list of all income and expenditure to the court called a ‘Statement of Means’. Maintenance is assessed by the person’s ability to pay as well as the needs of the person seeking it. The court will decide on each individual case, taking into account the whole financial situation, including income, earning potential, property, and financial responsibilities (such as dependent children).

Both parties can re-apply to vary (increase/decrease) or discharge (end) the order if circumstances change.

An applicant can also seek a contribution from a respondent towards expenses related to a birth or death of a dependent child. A one-off payment may also be sought from the courts for a special occasion.

Further information and assistance is available at every local district court office or through Legal Aid. In addition, FLAC offers free and confidential legal advice clinics. Contact details are available below.  

Breach of a Maintenance Order 

If maintenance is not paid as ordered by the court, you can apply to the court for an Enforcement Order. You may also be able to apply for an Attachment of Earnings Order which directs the respondent’s employer to deduct the maintenance at source. It is possible to apply for this attachment order upon application for a maintenance order if there is a risk that the other party may fail to make the maintenance payments.

You may be held in contempt of court for breach of a maintenance order.

Maintenance Across Boarders.

When the parent or spouse/civil partner does not live in Ireland, maintenance can often be received anyways.

Firstly, a maintenance order must be granted by an Irish court.

Secondly, it must be determined to which category the country belongs, in which the debtor lives. The country can either be part of the EU, a state that signed the relevant UN-Convention, the Hague Convention or a state that does not belong to any of those three mentioned groups.

If the debtor lives in an EU-state, the maintenance order granted by an Irish court can be enforced quite easily. This is possible by either making a request online here or contacting the Irish Central Authority via mail, phone or post (the contact information can be found in the table below).

If the debtor does not live in an EU-state, it must be determined whether the state signed the UN-Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance or the Hague Convention. A list of all states that signed the UN-Convention can be found here, and of all stated that signed the Hague Convention here. If the concerned country is listed in one of those lists, the maintenance order can be enforced by contacting the Irish Central Authority.

Further Information 

The Citizens Information website provides useful information on maintenance, including enforcing and varying maintenance orders, maintenance rates, and how to apply.   

Additional information can also be found here.







Legal Aid Board


Lo-call No: 

0818 615 200 

Legal Aid Board, Quay Street, Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry

Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC)


Free Legal Advice Centres,
85/86 Dorset Street Upper,
Dublin 1

The Courts Service

01 6395600

15-24 Phoenix Street North, Smithfield, Dublin 7 

Irish Central Authority for Maintenance Recovery

0 1 602 8202

Department of Justice, 51 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, D02 HK52


Citizens Information

0818 07 4000


Citizens Information Board, Ground Floor, George's Quay House, 43 Townsend St, Dublin 2, D02 VK65


More than 260 drop-in locations nationwide. Find your local centre here.


01 6700120   

01 6700 167


Treoir, 28 North Great Georges Street, Dublin 1


University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF