Family law and child support

Irish family law and child support legislation (or maintenance, as it is more commonly called) are complex matters. The law places a responsibility on both parents to support the child financially, and there are multiple ways in which the maintenance is manifested. It is important to note that under family law, child support and access to the child are two separate issues, and one does not directly affect the other.

Informal arrangements

It is legally possible for parents to come to an informal agreement regarding child support under family law, but given that most couples that break up do not do so on the best of terms, coming to an informal agreement regarding financial matters is extremely difficult. Regardless of the intentions of these agreements, they are not legally binding in respect of future claims. In other words, even if the parents decide to break up, and both agree that one should give the other a lump sum which will go towards all future costs of the child, this does not prevent the receiving parent from making a further application for child support under family law.

The lump sum payment will of course be considered by the Court when the application is heard. It is advisable to get legal advice from a family solicitor even when drawing up an informal arrangement.

Legal arrangements

A more definite manner by which child support is determined under family law is maintenance orders. A family solicitor can advise their client on the use of maintenance orders.  An application for such an order can be brought by the parties at the District or Circuit Court, and the costs of bringing the application may be recoverable from the other party, if the Court deems it to be reasonable.

In the majority of cases, the costs will only be recovered if the other party acts wholly unreasonably in the opinion of the Court. It is important to make a distinction between the Court’s opinion and that of the other party, since in divorce proceedings emotions do run high, and the parties tend to be highly critical of each other’s behaviour.

A family solicitor can provide further legal advice on family law and child maintenance issues.

If you would like to obtain legal advice on family law and child support laws, Contact Law can put you in touch with local specialist family / child solicitors free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local specialist family / child  solicitors please call us on 1800 937 974 or complete the web-form above.

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