Maintenance is the periodic payment of financial support to a spouse in respect of himself or herself and/or in respect of any dependent children. A dependent child is one who is under the age of eighteen years or between the ages of eighteen and twenty-three and attending full-time education. If the parties cannot agree upon maintenance, either party can apply to the court for a maintenance order. The applicant spouse must establish that the other spouse has failed to provide such maintenance as is proper in the circumstances.
Couples may decide to voluntarily come to an agreement regarding proper maintenance. In these situations it may be advisable to seek a legal representative who may act as a negotiator. Couples should not use the same solicitor as it may result in a conflict of interest.
If a couple cannot agree on maintenance an application may be sought in court. In some cases, legal aid may be granted for these applications.
Recent legislation allows the courts to enforce maintenance orders up to and including imprisonment should one party fail to make good on his/her side of the maintenance agreement. It is therefore very important that each party is properly advised as to their legal obligations.
If you require representation in a family law matter or if you have a general family law query; contact us to arrange a consultation.