This relates to the payment of maintenance by one spouse to the other for their support. In Ireland there is a legal responsibility on spouses to provide maintenance in accordance with their means.
Spousal maintenance generally arises where one spouse is financially dependent on the other and/or where there is a significant difference in income between the spouses. In making a spousal maintenance order the Courts will be guided by the financial needs of both parties.
In Ireland there is a legal responsibility on parents, whether married or unmarried, to maintain dependent children in accordance with their means. Maintenance can be paid in a lump sum or periodically.
In situations where parents are separated, they can make informal agreements regarding maintenance. On rare occasions this can work well where both parties are reasonable and fair. However it is difficult to assess informally how much maintenance should be paid. Mediation can assist parties to come to an arrangement which satisfies both parties.
Alternatively, each side can engage their own legal advice who will act as negotiator of an agreement. Both parties can then sign this agreement which can later be made a rule of court.
If the parties cannot agree upon maintenance, either party can apply to court for a maintenance order. An application for maintenance can be brought either in the District or Circuit Court. Each party must disclose their finances to the court and the judge will consider the needs of the child/children taking into account all of the family's circumstances when making a maintenance order.