Maintenance, Access and Guardianship

Marriage Breakdown

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Maintenance

Who is maintenance payable for?

There is a legal responsibility in Ireland on both spouses to maintain each other and on parents to maintain their children in accordance with their means.

Is there a definition for the word child?

Both parents have a responsibility to support their children financially.  This applies to all parents, whether married, separated, living together or if they have never lived together.  Child maintenance is payable for a child up to the age of 18 or to the age of 23 if the child is in full time education.

If the child has a mental or physical disability to such a degree that it will not be possible for the child to maintain him/herself fully, then there is no age limit on the maintenance payments.

What is standard maintenance here?

A standard rate of child maintenance payment does not exist here currently but the District Court has the power to award maintenance of up to €150 per week per child and up to €500 per week per spouse and if someone is seeking higher maintenance than this they will have to apply through the Circuit Court.

If someone is not working, will they still have to pay maintenance?

Yes. I have seen cases where the Judge will award up to €40 per week child maintenance out of someone’s Social Welfare.

Does a parent who pays maintenance gain any rights over the children?

No.  Paying maintenance does not give a parent any rights of guardianship or access.

Can access be denied without maintenance?

If an ex partner does not pay maintenance – access cannot be dependant on maintenance.  A child’s welfare takes priority, which means having both parents in his/her life.

What is Spousal Maintenance?

A married person can seek maintenance following the breakdown of the marriage.  The obligation to maintain and support a husband/wife continues even if the person paying the maintenance remarries and takes on the responsibility for the support of a new spouse and dependent children.  Subject to the terms of any agreement reached or to the terms of a court order, a husband/wife only stops being responsible for the maintenance and support of the person receiving the maintenance when that person dies or remarries.

Surprisingly, recent report findings showed that spousal maintenance is not the norm in Ireland.

If father and mother are working and custody is given to father, does spousal maintenance apply to the father?

At Lynch Solicitors we deal with situations where a mother pays maintenace to a father.  The rights are the same, irrespective of whether the father or the mother is financially dependent on the other.

Is there Legal Aid for someone who wants to go to Court for Maintenance?

There is free legal aid granted to anyone who is earning less than €18,000 per year.

If a couple is not married, but co-habiting are they entitled to maintenance?

Prior to January 2010 parties were only entitled to spousal maintenance if they were married.

This all changed with the Civil Partnership Act.  Under the Civil Partnership Act a cohabiting couple must have lived together in an intimate and committed relationship for five years or two years if the parties have children together.

A cohabiting couple does not have automatic rights.  They must show financial dependency as a result of the relationship and its demise and it is a matter for the Courts to decide who “qualifies” as a cohabiting couple.  The Court does. if the parties qualify, have the power to award maintenance to an ex-partner.

When a marriage / relationship breaks down how is the question of maintenance i.e. financing the needs of children and the dependant spouse, arranged?

There are a number of options available:

  • In situations where parents are unmarried or separated, they can agree between themselves what maintenance is paid and they can agree the method of payment etc.
  • Alternatively, each parent can engage their Solicitor who will attempt to negotiate an agreement. Both parents can then sign this agreement which can later be made a rule of court. A rule of court means that these agreements have the same effect as a maintenance order
  • If the parties cannot agree upon maintenance, either party can apply to court for a maintenance order and in these circumstances the Judge decides what maintenance is to be paid.

How does the Court decide on the level of maintenance?

The Judge will look at the individual circumstances of each case and the Judge will decide what maintenance would be appropriate. Each party will have filed in Court an Affidavit of Means setting out their income and expenditure and the Judge will look at each of these in detail and it comes down to needs versus resources.  What does one party need and what can the other party afford.

Basically the calculation of how much maintenance is to be paid in any particular case is ultimately a matter for the court to decide, and each case will stand on its own facts. There is no set formula and the Court must attempt to strike a balance in all circumstances and will also take into account all matters it considers proper.

When a Maintenance Order is made, how is the money paid?

The maintenance can be paid by standing order directly between the parties’ bank accounts or it can be paid through the District Court Office.  The advantage of it being paid through the District Court Office is that the District Court Clerk will monitor the payments and will pursue the payer if he/her defaults.  The District Court records all payments so a print out of these is available to either party on request.

What recourse is there if maintenance is not paid as required?

In cases where a spouse fails to comply with a court order and does not pay the amount awarded, an Attachment of Earnings Order can be sought from the court,. This order results in the maintenance amount being deducted at source by the spouse’s employer- The employer has to comply with this otherwise he would be held in contempt of court.

If the spouse is self-employed, an Enforcement Summons can be applied for. When that person comes before the Court the Judge can if he has no Defence, imprison him or her for a maximum period of three months.

Can a maintenance order be varied?

Yes, you can apply to the Court to have the maintenance order varied if there is a change in circumstances e.g. the paying party looses his/her job. However, you are liable for the amount under the original order until such time as it is varied by the Court.

Who will be in Court when my maintenance application is being heard by the Judge?

All Family Law proceedings are heard in-camera which means that they are heard in private, this means that no of the public are allowed to sit in the Court room during the hearing of family law cases. The only people that will be present are both parties, their Solicitors, the Judge and the Court Clerk.

Can a mother look for maintenance for the children if the father is not on the birth certificate?

Yes, absolutely, being on the birth certificate is irrelevant to these types of applications.

Guardianship

What does Guardianship mean?

Guardianship means the rights and duties of parents in respect of the upbringing of their children.  It includes the duty to maintain and properly care for the child and it refers to the decisions which must be made during the child’s lifetime which relate to the general lifestyle and development of the child.  Being a Guardian requires a person to partake in the important decisions in a child’s life e.g. education, religion and general rearing.

Who can be Guardian?

The natural mother is automatically guardian.  If the mother and father are married at the time of the birth of the child- the father is automatically guardian.

The natural father who is not married to the mother can apply to the Court to be appointed Guardian of the child.  However, the easiest route to appoint a father a guardian is if the mother agrees to his appointment, both parties can sign a statutory declaration in front of a Solicitor appointing the father guardian.

An unmarried father has to take positive action in order to become Guardian of his children.  This involves either:

  • Marrying the mother of the child subsequent to the birth
  • Making an application to the Court to be appointed Guardian under section 6A of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964
  • Asking the mother to sign a Declaration consenting to both parents being joint Guardians.

For further advice or if you wish to discuss any other legal area please contact [email protected] or telephone 052-6124344.

The material contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only and does not amount to legal or other professional advice. While every care has been taken in the preparation of the information, we advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.

252 Comments to “ Maintenance, Access and Guardianship”

  1. Bridie Cox says :

    My husband is employed in England. He returns every 1/2 weeks and uses all the facilities. He refuses to contribute to the bills and may buy coal when he feels like it and so fort. I have tried discussing same with him….he refuses to communicate. I , for the sake of the family would like it sorted amicably.I don’t get maintenance. I’m 66 and on a pension

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Bridie,

      The best way to sort it out is amicably for all concerned. However, if he won’t talk to you, you may have to make an Application to your local District Court for maintenance. Taking the steps to make such an application might bring the matter to a head.

  2. ursula says :

    when does child maintenance finnish in ireland , and in what circumstances can it continue and until when ?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Child maintenance usually finished at 18 years unless the child is in full time education (23 years ) or has a disability ( until the disability ends).

  3. Jennifer says :

    I would like my ex partner to have supervised access with our two young children, preferably going through the court system as he has had a poor upbringing and a criminal past. I want a barring order put in place for my safety but he says because he hasn’t assaulted me in over 5 years that I can’t get one only a protection order. I don’t even know if I have his correct address for it to be issued.
    I am not interested in maintenance although he claims the two acts are intertwining, saying if I look for access there will be a maintenance order put in place. I’m fairly sure this is wrong. Thank you

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      As a general comment without knowing the specifics, access is better done by agreement rather Court orders, maintenance and access are not necessarily linked and a barring order is rare where the evidence based on a 5 years old episode of assault.

  4. Sarah prior says :

    my sister is an alcohalic the social got her to sign a form when she was drunk which left her kids with his ones . He is also an alcohalic . She left him and went to rehab and is seven months sober . They are not married either. She is home now with my parents but the social keep pressing her to sign this gaurdingship letter even though he has said to her he doesn’t want the kids only her. Why are they doing this and is it legal that the kids are with him and his ones . Thanks.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      This seems to be a case where the HSE, social work department, have become involved. It is their statutory responsibility to deal with children at risk or in need of intervention. The parents should seek legal advise on their duties and responsibilities in this specific situation before signing any paperwork.

  5. lindsey says :

    I have an 11 year old son. His biological father wanted nothing to do with us, he still doesn’t. I’m with my new partner for 5 years now and we live together, my son even calls him dad. Is there any way I can make him my son’s legal guardian? Its what all 3 of us really want!

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Lindsey,

      There is currently a private Bill before the Oireachtas that would deal with this and enable your new partner to make such an application. However, it is not yet law and does not seem to be progressing. Presently, other than appointing him as guardian by will, there is not a mechanism to appoint your new partner a guardian, while you are alive.

  6. Mike says :

    Brief query on maintenance – I have a family agreement on maintenance of children for the last 14 years on divorce. Both children are now over 18 and attending university away from the family home. Can I now pay the maintenance sum previously paid to my former spouse, directly to them? Thoughts?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Mike,
      A good question and one that often comes up. Usually the maintenance payer would prefer to maintain adult children directly and the other parent will prefer to continue to manage the funds for the child. It is usually motivated by a desire to have an adult relationship with one’s children.

      The answer will depend on how the original agreement was framed. If it specifies that the payment is to be made to the other parent while the adult child is in full time education then you will have to get their agreement to change it or make a Court application. There is no certainty that a Court will agree to alter the arrangement.

      As always, it is best , if possible,to try to agree to any change.

      Another way of approaching it – if the maintenance sum is specified and inadequate, you could continue to pay the agreement sum to the other parent and supplement any additional sum directly to the child.

  7. Nicky Walsh says :

    Hi, just a very quick query, I have received no maintenance in over a year from my ex partner, we were not married & had a private arrangement in place. Due to numerous circumstances I haven’t yet been able to get court proceedings moving & just wondering roughly about costs etc?? Also would that money be back dated based on what he used to pay if at all??? Thank you.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Nicky,

      Not sure whether you are talking about maintenance for your self or children. If you were not married maintenance is not usually payable unless you are a qualifying cohabitant ( 5 years without children and 2 years with children ) and you can establish financial dependency as a result of relationship. If it is for children that is a different matter and you can make a Court application for maintenance and such maintenance will date from the date of the application. There may be some scope for an argument for arrears if there is a voluntary agreement but this will be on the basis of breach of contract.

      The cost will depend on whether or not it is a District Court or a Circuit Court application – and that is dependent on the level of maintenance being sought. Any claim over €150 per child is in the Circuit Court.

      You should also check if you qualify for Legal Aid , and , otherwise , look for a quote for the services.

      1. Nicky says :

        Sorry was referring to maintenence for our 2 children, should have specified!!! He also owns his own business but told me he put it in his fathers name so he wouldnt be ordered to pay much maintenence, I appreciate the reply thank you so much

  8. Martin says :

    Hi,would you be able to help me with a question. I had an agreement in place with my sons mother with regards to maintenance. Since last September i have put the money in to a new savings account for my son due to his mum saying she did not want the money anymore.She now wants the money reinstated and backdated. I have got a solicitors letter asking for a record of my finances which i sent off to them. I have explained in my reply that if she attends mediation that i will reinstate the money.I am married now and my ex seems to think my wife’s income is taken into account as well as main. Is this true.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Martin,

      If she wants the maintenance backdated and reinstated and if you have not issue with the amount , I would suggest that you offer her the money that you have put away and re-instate the payment to her. There is no provision for looking for arrears in any Court application and you would only show your income in an application. When showing your overheads , you would show your share of the overheads only.

  9. Hi I am rearing my great grandson for the last 7 yrs. He is 11yrs old? His mother does not live with us and is on lone parents allowance. She is getting paid for him and is also getting child benefit every month but don’t give me any money to support him.. Social workers have been involved in the past and has said she is not capable of looking after him due to substances. Can I go for guardainshiip. Her mother has her other child who is 6yrs old and in the same circumstances as myself..

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      You will be as soon as the legislation, the Children and Family Relationships Act is activated by the Minister. The Act was passed into law on the 6th of April but needs the support paperwork to come into practice. I am not sure how long this will take but , hopefully , a matter of weeks rather than months.

  10. Lisa says :

    Hi
    I am a mum of two boys. They father of the boys has not been involved in over a year and has paid no maintenance whatsoever.
    out of the blue he now wants access but he lives in scotland and I and the boys live in ireland. Where would I stand on this.
    Thank you

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Lisa, the short answer is that the Court will take the view that it is normally in the best interests of a child to have a relationship with their father . Obviously it is in the detail that your answer becomes more difficult. If he is an unmarried father he is obliged to apply to Court for guardianship and access and it is a matter for the Court to determine the extent of such access or , whether or not , (or more commonly when) to grant guardianship.

      You should apply for an order for maintenance in advance of any application for access .

      1. Stephanie says :

        Hi my partner and I broke up 9 weeks ago we’re not married he gives me money every now and again, I give him 2 over nights per week with our son. I recently found out he’s in a new relationship and had my son in the women’s house, something I don’t agree with, where are my rights there? He is also telling me if he brings me to court and he will get 3 overnights one week and 4 over nights another is this correct can he get that much access? He lives with his parents works 3 or 4 nights in a bar and claims social welfare, there is also drug use involved and a lot of alcohol abuse in his parents house where he lives I am terrified he will get that amount of access as I don’t trust them with my son, I inderstand he needs to see his dad but when he goes up to stay with him his dad is out and it’s his mother that looks after him, what can I do here

        1. John M. Lynch says :

          Not an easy question to answer. But if there is substance abuse and concerns over the level of care , then it is important that there be assurances that the child is not at risk. Ultimately there is no certainly that a Court solution will favour either parent – bear in mind that the Court’s primary concern is the best interests of the Child. Nine weeks is very early days , so I would recommend that you try to meet the needs of both parties and maybe, agree to mediate a parenting plan . This should address the issues such as the introduction of new partners to the child, the level of access , maintenance and non-exposure to drug or substance abuse.

  11. Jack says :

    Myself and my ex agreed that I would pay a weekly maintenance along with two lump sum payments a year in exchange for her letting me have my kids every second weekend. However she cut off my access for the kids and I can no longer afford the two yearly payments. I am still paying weekly maintenance and she now wants to bring me to court for not paying the lump sum payments. Where do I stand in this?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Jack,

      Firstly, access is not linked to maintenance . You should be able to see your children. Secondly maintenance is based ,naming other factors, on your ability to pay. If you can prove you haven’t got the resources, a Court will order you to pay what it considers is fair. That decision is, however, a matter for decision for the particular judge hearing all the evidence.

  12. Vicky says :

    hey, im wondering might u could help me.I have Court Decision for child maintenance from another EU country. Myself and my ex husband we r living in ireland and he is not paying maintenace for his child many years. What should i do? Do i have to go to Court again here in Ireland ? Thank you

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      If you have a valid EU court order for maintenance it can be enforced with the help of the Central Authority.

      It can be contacted : Central Authority for Maintenance Recovery
      Department of Justice and Equality
      Bishop’s Square
      Redmond’s Hill
      Dublin 2
      Ireland
      Tel:+353 (0)1 479 0200 +353 (0)1 479 0200
      Locall:1890 555 509
      Fax:+353 (0)1 479 0201
      Email: [email protected]

  13. Siobhan says :

    Hi… I’m separated from my husband since April 2014. We have 4 kids..2living & working away & 2 aged 16 & 15. I want him to take the kids every second weekend as at the moment he doesn’t & only comes up for 4-5 hours once a week to see them.. My new partner & I never get out alone or get a break. My ex husband is living with his parents rent free & refuses to get his own place as he says he can’t afford it. He pays E90 a week maintenance & suggested taking it off me if I want him to get his own place so he can put it towards rent! I’m fed up asking him. I even suggested him coming to stay in my house when he has kids but he won’t talk to his boss about taking every second weekend off.. What can I do? Does he have to take them? Will a judge make him? I only want some time to do my own thing. He can come & go as he pleases

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Siobhan, the long and the short of it is that a Court/Judge cannot oblige a parent, in civil proceedings , to exercise their parental responsibilities. One might say that, in the long run, the loser in such a situation is the parent who fails to take up an offer of additional contact with the children.

  14. Paula says :

    Hi, my husband has left me recently. He rarely takes the kids, yet he has recently summonsed me to court over access. How can I get further information as to the nature/ detail of the summons? I need to understand what he is looking for before I go to court. Does he have to lodge details of what he is looking for before the court hearing?

    thanks,

    Paula.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Paula, it would appear that he does not appear to think that he can deal with the issue without court intervention. I would suggest being proactive and writing to him setting out your willingness to discuss the details of access – and even set out the access times. He does not have to lodge details – but you can ask him or his solicitor for these details.

    2. John M. Lynch says :

      There is no link legally between paying maintenance and having the father on the Birth Certificate.

      There is, however, the maxim that ” with rights come responsibilities” which might suggest that there may be a moral responsibility.

  15. Lucy says :

    Hi, my partner has only started taking his son a lot and now over night and he was wondering if he was to get his name put on his sons birth cert who is 6 now, would he have to pay maintance since the day he was born?

  16. Lesley says :

    Hi I have a query about maintenance, my partner and I split up 6 months ago and before we spilt he was with the kids all the time. Since the split he barely see’s them doesn’t contribute a cent towards anything, we have 4 children aged 18,16,14 and 10.. He is on social welfare as he cant be arsed getting a job because he’s living rent free in his mothers house. Would it be worth taking him to court for maintenance or would I be awarded nothing because he’s on social welfare? Thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Short answer : he would not get a lot and would probably get as much SW payments as a lone parent.

  17. Derek says :

    hi my wife left me recently. she has a mental illness and spent a lot of times in hospital.more recently she went in again but turned around out of the blue and wants to separate.while she was in hospital i supported her with money for cigarettes. she was discharged she got a house away from the family home. we have 2 kids 13 and 8.I’m now left at home full time with my kids.she has them for 5 hrs two days a week and every second weekend. i am still supporting her with €100 even though she is in receipt of social welfare and rent allowance etc. the child benefit is still under her name. my question is do i have to keep paying her this money and am i entitled to the child benefit as i have the kids.we have not gone to court or anything yet. both of us applied for free legal aid she got it and i was refused. which i am appealing at the moment. where do i stand please help.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      A short answer is that you are are obliged to pay both child and spousal maintenance depending on the circumstances of both parties and the children. The assessment is based on a number of factors – e.g. the means and needs of all the parties. If she has no income and the children are minors then maintenance will normally be payable . The amount is based on the amount required and the amount of money you have available after catering for yourself. The child benefit will come into the mathematical calculaton of how much – if she gets it it reduces what you pay, if you get it , it increases what you pay.

      One point to remember about maintenance is that it varies with the changing circumstances of the parties – i.e as children get older the needs change, if people change or get employment it may vary.

  18. Patience says :

    Hi I have 3 kids with my ex Partner ,l got married recently and my kids called my new husband,our new dad and they call my their biological dad old Dad,and he’s giving out to me that am the one telling to call them like that,he used to abuse me in front of the children,and we part way,he went to court to look for access and Guardianship of which I don’t want him to be my kids Guardian,he gets access of the kids once every week and he still breach it,at times he come and at time he doesn’t’ turn,this man he can lie to the judge that I didn’t’let get access with kids the day that he doesn’t’turn up,please can u help

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      This looks like a specific issue that need input from a local family law solicitor . The short answer is that a Court will be unlikely to make any orders on the issue of the step father but will more than likely permit guardianship where there is access .

  19. Y byrne says :

    Hi, my son is 3 and after 3 years of communication difficulties and repeatedly sabotaged arrangements on access and maitenence I’ve decided to go to court. I want my sons father to have access though, he currently has him tue/weds overnight which were days I never approved of from the beginning, can (1) a judge order him to have him every second weekend with those regular days on the week in between, he dosnt work and is quite frankly a bum (2) I have been diagnosed with a mental health condition last year that no doctors or specislists have expressed concern for my sons welfare or safety by and his father is aware of it from the get go but is now saying hel use it against me to get full custody. What is the case with this sort of thing?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Two questions : What might be a Court’s attitude on an application by the primary carer to regularise access where there is a 3 year history of communication difficulties and sabotaged arrangements? Could the Court extend the access to weekend in addition to weekdays where the father does not work. The answer as always ,depends on the evidence before the Judge and also on the Judge’s attitude to both the parties and the evidence. The primary role of the Judge is to look to the best interests of the child and not the parents . Therefore, if the Judge considers that the child’s best interests are served by limiting or extending access he or she will order accordingly . The problem always in these cases is trying to assess how the Court will view each case . This is where a local family law solicitor who has familiarity with the Judge will help. Also the safer and more certain option is to try to reach agreement by discussion through solicitors or by mediations.

      The second question is how a diagnosis of a mental health condition will be taken into account in an access/custody application. It obviously depends on the detail, but as a general response, it should not entitle a non-custodial parent to get full custody if the medical personnel dealing with the conditions consider that it does not have an effect on the welfare of the child.

  20. Siobhan says :

    My ex was court ordered at the start of the year to maintenance, he did pay for some time but now says he is “unemployed” and unable to pay, I contacted the district court some weeks back for a variation ( I didn’t realise it was him that should have done this) however since then, I have information and evidence that he is working (for himself). I have hired a PI and have a statement and pictures proving he is working. I’m currently not being paid any maintenance and i’m waiting for my court date to arrive, I understand I need to now get a new summons for arrears as he is still liable to pay said amount until new court date. Can you please advise if the judge can enforce payment as I have evidence he is working. Would you recommend I engage a solicitor as this is now getting messy.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Siobhan , there are a few separate issues that you need to deal with and , yes, I would recommend that you retain a family law solicitor.

      If there is a Court order in existence and he is in breach of this order by not paying , then you should ask the District Court to enforce the order . This will deal with the maintenance arrears. If he says he cannot pay ,then he should seek to vary the order by going back to Court to apply to vary it . He will be allowed to vary it , if he can show that there has been a change in his financial circumstances sufficient to justify a change since the first order was made. Your evidence of his working is obviously very relevant for a Court in dealing with such an application – particularly if he denies that he is working .

  21. Martin says :

    Hi I was just wondering I have been split up from my partner 2 years now and I pay maintenance every week none of which is spent on the children an there’s concern over the amount of care the children are receiving off their mother . I currently take both children 2 days a week but it’s being suggested that we change the arrangement to 1week with the children and 1 week with out !! My question then is how will this affect the maintenance will I still have to pay it even though the time is split down the middle or will I not have to pay the weeks I don’t have them ?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      If I understand you , you will be getting increased access – week on , week off . Congrats on achieving that and I hope it works , I am a big fan of shared parenting. The short answer on the maintenance is : if there is a change in the care arrangements , this ought to include the financial aspect. The overriding objective , however , should be the best interests of the children – and being too pedantic on the money side may not help!

  22. John Derby says :

    Hi
    Bit more than three months my wife asked me to leave the house, on the grounds that as we no longer loved each other our marriage was a joke and should leave. She gave me no time to prepare myself, she threatened to change door lock so I wouldn’t get in, verbally abused me to the point I had agree to leave as we have two kids under 5yrs and I just thought it would be better to avoid arguing and conflict with her in front of our children. I been giving children maintenance since I moved out, two month consecutively paying 700 euro and 600 last month. She now took her tax credits back which has reduced my wages plus tax credits back to January which means a bigger cut in my salary starting January next. She still expects me and demands I pay same maintenance every month, I said I won’t be able but she threatens to go legal. Does she really have any grounds to do this? Thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Leaving aside the question of whether or not you should have vacated the family home, maintenance is a standalone issue. The children have to be maintained and such maintenance is dependent on their needs, both of your needs and the joint resources available. In a nutshell, maintenance will be an ongoing issue up to when the children come of age – max. 23 years in full time education unless they are under a disability. The amount of the maintenance will be calculated taking these factors into account. It is not a precise mathematical formula or capable of easy valuation.

  23. Mary Vincent says :

    Hi, I am Irish and moved to US about 7 years ago. 2 years ago, I had my son and his father, was a friend I was casually seeing for about 3 years. When I told him I was pregnant he told me he wants nothing to do with me or his child and has refused to talk, text, email with me since. I’ve had no contact with him at all (though tried) and although I am financially secure, kids are expensive and I would appreciate any help with money. He still lives in Ireland and has his own business. I’ve filed a case over here with the Attorney General seeking Child support from him. Can you tell me the best steps to take with regards to trying to get him to help with child support (considering me being in the US)? What if he doesn’t answer any correspondence? Is there any repercussion? US does have a treaty in place with regards to Child support/maintenance. Thank you

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      If the US has a treaty in place with Ireland then it should be possible to enforce any maintenance order in an Irish court. The fact that the father does not wish to see the child is no bar in Ireland for an application for maintenance.

  24. Marie says :

    I secured a maintenance and access order through the district court in February 2012 in relation to my child with my non-marital ex partner. The access agreement was reached through mediation and this was made a rule of court during the maintenance hearing. Access was agreed for a pick up from school on Wednesday and overnight stay, pick up from school every second Friday and an alternate every second weekend.

    I was awarded maintenance of €40 p.w.as my ex partner was on social welfare and was living with his parents in their family home (still living there). Approximately 3 weeks after the hearing my ex-partner gave 6 hours notice that he was taking up employment (this has happened on numerous occasions) and would not be taking our child on the appointed days as agreed.

    He refused to try and sort out alternative child care arrangements for these days or to agree to further mediation to agree on access. He now only sees our child every second weekend but often leaves her with family members and basically refuses to comply/ enter into any compromise or further discussion about the access agreement. Basically, is there anything I can do here? Does the access agreement mean anything at all or can he just decide not to comply with it? It is so frustrating because he refuses to bring her to any of the activities she’s involved in at the weekend so I usually have to pick her up and take her then drop her back and he often goes out and does not come back (leaves her with his mother).

    The judge ordered maintenance to be paid by direct debit to me but this was never set up. Instead I have to continuously chase him for it. He has decided to increase maintenance by €20 per week (so it is now €60) because he is working full time however he claims to pay his mother €100pw. This €20 increase does not cover the additional childcare cost etc so financially although he is better off for working full time I am at a disadvantage.

    When I mention legally varying the maintenance order he usually just leaves his job or will tell me that it is temporary. Can he be compelled to submit wage slips etc? Where do I go with this?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      I believe you should revisit the matter by Court application. I would however warn you, that this system does not offer much opportunity to oblige a parent to exercise access.

  25. Richard says :

    Hi,

    Hope you can help.
    My ex partner now lives in Galway, I am in Dublin. I see my daughter almost every weekend where I drive to Galway. Sometimes I stay and sometimes my daughter is allowed to Stay with me in a local hotel.
    I always pay my maibtainance and recently just increased this, however I continually get requests to buy clothes shoes and other things for my daughter. I’ve no issue in doing this but it’s the asking that is a frustration. I had already bought 2 pairs of shoes when I was asked the same day, doesn’t maintainance cover this and my additional contributions, I.e taking my 6 yo daughter shopping are at my own discretion?
    Also I’d love to take my daughter over to England to see her grandparents on half term just for 3 nights but this is always thrown back at me and the ex isn’t comfortable.

    I have sent a letter, outlinging access, maintenance, Xmas visit, time together, regular evening phone calls, holidays and a quarterly trip to see UK grandparents, but the letter is refused to even be acknowledged.

    I see my daughter regularly but I just want a plan so we all know where we stand and can make plans for the future etc. I didn’t think it much to ask. I’ve even Sat and had dinner with the ex and her new partner which she moved in as we separated and been nothing but respectful and dignified, but have in addition received abuse and threats from both over my want to treat my daughter to holidays and have time with in UK.

    Is there anything I can do, would really appreciate an impartial opinion?

    Best regards,

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Maintenance would usually cover all outgoings for a child – however, as a matter of practice, this does not prevent additional payments and certainly does not preclude the maintenance paying parent from making additional contributions, or being asked to make such contributions. It is always a very delicate balance between legal obligations and maintaining a one-to-one relationship with the dependent child.

      The access which you are seeking does not appear to be unreasonable – however, I would suggest that you attempt to mediate a parenting plan. If you are not in a position to deal with the matter by mediation then your final resort is a court application.

      Court applications are usually based on the best interests of the child to take into account the circumstances of both parents and the needs of the child.

      My suggestion is to try to mediate a parenting plan and, failing this, deal with the matter by Court application.

  26. Linda says :

    Hi,
    Myself and my husband live in Australia . He has 2 children from a previous relationship aged 17 and 19. He pays maintainence weekly and also pays half the mortgage as the house is half his. His 17 year old daughter is coming to live with us indifently and the 19 year old is going to college but only part time this year. My question is does he have to continue paying for the 19 year old or will they cancel each other out in a way. We would be giving him an allowance each month anyway. Or should the mother be obliged to pay him maintainence for the 17 year old( we don’t want any money though )
    Thanks for your help

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      A dependent child is entitled to maintenance payments while they are in full-time education up to the age of 23 if a child no longer resides with one parent as a matter of law there are entitled to maintenance from the other parent.

  27. Terry Bradshaw says :

    Hi,
    I have been separated and living apart from my ex for the past 16 years with a separation agreement. The agreement specifies that neither party shall make any financial demands on the other. There are four children who are all grown up with their own families. Youngest is 32 eldest 45. I am retired and ex is working as a teacher. Has she any grounds for opposin or slowing down divorce proceedings?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Usually no, unless there are some unusual circumstances that might prompt a court to consider that the separation agreement had not made proper provision between the parties.

      1. John M. Lynch says :

        But , of course, that does not prevent a party from opposing. slowing , not agreeing to or contesting a divorce application.

  28. James says :

    Hi
    In August 14 me and my parner broke up due to a slight substance abuse. I went to counciling and got over it we got back together however broke up a few months ago. I have my son for 12 days in a month, these are my rest days from shift work, sometimes more. I have him for four overnights per month, I look for more and it’s refused. I pay his maintenance every week without fail. I pay his healthcare each week. I feed him at all my visit.. I also take a/l from work for the days we are caught for childcare.
    I am now looking for guardianship and an access agreement for holidays, she is refusing point blank and states if I apply to court it will not be granted due to the pervious substance abuse ??? Would I be wasting g my time in court, the substance abusers is being used as a beating stick constantly , there is no fear for the safety of the child as can be seen from my involvement

    Advice ???

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      If a court were to be satisfied that substance abuse was an ongoing issue, then this would have an impact on the type of access that might be granted. Obviously each case depends on the extent of the evidence of such abuse. Guardianship and access are two distinct issues. Normally, guardianship would not be refused – this is by reason of the fact that guardianship is not a hands-on (day-to-day) care issue. Guardianship usually involves decisions on the education, health and welfare of the child.

      If it is the case that someone has issues with substance abuse but that such abuses under control and can be proven to be so, there should be no reason why reasonable access would not be agreed between the parties.

      If the matter has to go to court, judges normally take the view that access is as much a right of the child is that of the parent and that therefore it should not be restricted unless there is sufficient proof of risk to the child.

  29. Grainne says :

    My son is 18 years old and was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome in june this year. His dad and I were never married and have been separated since he was 2. He has paid a weekly payment of €50 until 5 weeks ago where he cut off all contact with me and stopped payments. He only answered my call when I text him to say I would call to his house if he continued to ignore me. He informed me he no longer intended to support our son but still wanted access. We are from a small area and I am sure this is just for show as he has never been an active father figure. Just wondering where I stand on maintenance and access? My son has deferred his college placement until next year because of his recent diagnosis as he is not ready but will be attending next year.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      If a child remains in full-time education until 23 years there are entitled to maintenance. Furthermore, if a child suffers from a disability there are also entitled to maintenance during the period of their disability.

  30. Emer Mulvey says :

    I hope you can advise. At the moment my partner takes his daughter every single weekend, the arrangement that has been in place for the past year has been one weekend she stays with us Friday evening until 6.30 on a Saturday, and the next weekend she stays Friday evening until 6.30 on a Sunday evening. My partner does the pick ups and drop offs as the mother refuses to do this as there is a toll involved. If there was ever a case where we were away or her mother was working a Sunday, there would usually be no hassle to change / swap days. However her mother sent a threatening message to my partner recently, saying that he now has 2 choices, either take his daughter fri-sun every weekend, or not see her at all. I am just enquiring as to if this went to court, would the mother have the right to impliment this new arrangement? There is no logical reason for her insistance other than that she wishes to have all her weekends child-free. Both he and I work Mon – Fri and we live too far away from the child to take her during the week. The mother now does not work at all and claims social welfare. We feel that this is a bit excessive in terms of access arrangements and we were happy with the existing one. The child is perfectly happy with the arrangement as it stands and is unaware of this conflict. I understand that the court usually rules in favour of the child’s welfare, and the only info I can find online is that where the father refuses to take the child fullstop. Any general advice / info would be grately appreciated. We are seriously considering taking this case to court.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      A few comments – he is a lucky father to see his daughter every weekend ; the Court considers that the best interests of the child are paramount ; I am glad to hear the child is unaware of the conflict ; the mother will not be allowed to remove access in its entirety.

      The only basis on which I would take it to court is to deal with a removal of the access.

      Is there a compromise position here that would prevent a stand off – full alternative weekends ?

  31. Terry Bradshaw says :

    I am seeking a divorce and my spouse has indicated that she will not be contesting. There will be do dispute about maintenance as there are no dependent children and it was agreed that neither party would make financial demands on the other. My spouse has engaged a solicitor. Am I liable for the cost of the solicitor?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      In family law divorce proceedings it is not the norm to award costs to either party – so the short answer is , no.

  32. Gill Gannon says :

    If maintenance is paid directly to the child when they reach 18 and go to college, is it still counted as ‘income’ for the mother when calculating Family Income Supplement?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Child maintenance is not considered the income of the mother for tax purposes . However, if the child is been independently maintained and is in college it would impact on the family income supplement.

  33. Elaine Reilly says :

    I have a query in relation to access for a teenage child. My brother and his ex wife are divorced. Ex wife gives lots of hassle over the years, involving the child in all sorts of verbally abusive arguments towards her dad. It’s gotten to the stage where his daughter now 14 has told him she doesn’t want to come over to stay with him anymore. The court order was Friday/sat one week and sat/sun the following week. As it stands she hasn’t come to visit since August. The ex wife is now threatening court action saying the daughter will tell a judge shedoesn’t want to come over anymore. He is unable to speak to his daughter without the mother being present for the phone call. He calls her a lot but the phone is only answered when the mother is around and the conversation consists of the ex wife screaming obscenities down the phone. My brother is obviously worried about how his relationship with his daughter is slipping away from him with no substantial reason. Can he do anything to “make” the daughter visit him seeing as it was court ordered?? He has thought about waiting outside her school to see her on her own but he’s afraid he could be done for kidnap of his own child. Thank you in advance

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      This is quite a difficult and all too common situation. Neither is it amenable to a legal answer. The bottom line is that the child is at an age that her wishes will be taken into account by any court. It is difficult to see a situation where she would be forced by a court to exercise access.

      My non-legal advice would be to use every possible opportunity to meet with his daughter on a one-to-one and keep phoning and attempted to communicate.

  34. Gary says :

    I have been paying my daughter’s mother €50 per week in maintenance since it was agreed via our solicitors when she was an infant. She is now 10 years old. I continued to pay this amount when I lost my job 4 years ago despite job seekers allowance being my only source of income. I have recently moved in with my new partner and am now no longer eligible for social welfare payments because she earns too much. I therefore now have no income of my own and am being fully supported by my partner. I am now no longer in a position to pay anything towards maintenance. How do I go about communicating this to my daughters mother? Also, is my partner now liable to pay for my daughters maintenance costs as she is essentially supporting me? We are due to be married next year- would this change the situation at all? Thanks so much for your advice.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      The legal way to deal with a change in financial circumstances – which results in an inability to pay maintenance – is to apply to the Court to vary the original maintenance order . If this is not done , you could find yourself before the Court for breaking a Court order which is a criminal offence.

      A parent’s new partner is not liable per se for the maintenance of the child. However living with a new partner could have the effect of reducing living costs and therefore making more funds available to pay maintenance. (which would not be the case , where the parent has no income).

  35. Danny says :

    Hi

    Can a judge order me to take more access than I have already.I find the current access is interfering with the kids schooling and my work.

    Thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Quick answer, it would be very unusual for a court to order you to take up more access. However, it is always arguable that it might be in the best interests of your children!

  36. Danny says :

    Sorry I meant to say I only agreed to this in court because I was told if I didn’t the judge could make me and even order me to have more access.
    Is this true

    Thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Unusual, but anything is possible depending on the judge – you would of course have the right to appeal.

  37. kelly says :

    Question: My Niece lives with her Grandparents full time for the past 11 yrs with no income support/contact from either of her parents. it is an informal arrangement and nothing legal has been signed.

    Mother is claiming childrens allowance/Benefits for this child and not passing on anything to help support the child.

    What is the best advise you can give for the grandparents to follow in relation to becoming legal guardian etc. Mother refuses to even sign a passport form for her daughter to travel with grandparents.

    many thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Under the new legislation, they should be able to make a court application in their local district court.

  38. Mary Lynch says :

    Hi, I was wondering what way the courts decide on access. We currently have a court order which allows access to my daughters father every Saturday pm – Sunday pm and Tues and Thurs for 2 hours in the afternoon. This was agreed when father was unemployed but is now employed so cannot take her in the afternoons anymore. He has now filed to vary access and wants two nights every weekend. I have not agreed to this and feel the agreement we have at the moment suits our daughter perfectly. She has a baby brother that I feel she needs to spend time with as a family and I work full time monday-friday so would mean she never gets a full day/morning at home with us.

    I am very nervous that he will get granted the full weekend, every weekend that he is looking for. What will the judge look out for – will he compensate the 2 hours every tuesday and thursday that he is now missing and give him the extra night every weekend?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      The short answer, depending on the age of the child, courts will usually grant overnight access. The general trend or attitude of the court is that access is a right of the child and the court will generally go out of its way to facilitate access taken into account circumstances of both parents.

      There are no hard and fast rules and it will often depend on the judge.

  39. John says :

    Hello,

    i need some advice to the maintenance i will start paying.
    I agreed on paying 50% for the kindergarten plus 50% of all the expenses that are related to my son. That would be 475€ + 150-200€ = 650€ a month. Big expenses will obviously change that for certain months, but i am happy to help where i can.
    My ex and her councillor are not satisfied by that and want as well 50% of the 900€ rent. Altogether it would be at least 1000€ a month i would need to give her, depending on the expenses it could be more as well.
    I think it is very much and i can’t see why i should be paying the rent. Especially when already being way over the 150€ a week a court would order.
    I am not sure what to do as the last thing i want is my son to suffer under the situation. But i don’t want my self being ripped of either.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      This is the eternal quandary when you are the maintenance payer. You could say that the ultimate answer is to leave it to court to determine the maintenance. However, this can cause significant stress to all the parties. The best answer I can give you is that you should try and seek to mediation an agreement on maintenance and parenting issues.

  40. Pamela Hill says :

    Hello, I wonder if you can help me with some information I’m looking for to find out. I have a toddler almost 3 years old and the husband is not the father and he knows it. We are in the course of separation and are going to see a mediator soon. husband said that he doesn’t want to have anything in the agreement in relation to maintenance towards the child and when we will go to the judicial separation if the judge will order maintenance for the child, he will get the biological father involved. I do not want to involve the real father as he is married and has kids and this would put an end to his marriage and affect the children. My question is can my husband by proving with DNA test that he is not the father to ask the court to force the real father to pay maintenance? If husband supports his refusal to pay child maintenance by saying that he is not the father could the judge ask husband or me who the father is and force the real father to pay maintenance?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Many thanks. Pamela

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Pamela, I do not think so. I may be missing something here, if you do not look for maintenance for the child from your estranged husband husband, then there can be no issue about parentage

      1. Pamela says :

        Thank you for your reply to my query. Just to clarify the biological father is voluntarily helping me financially so the child is like after.

  41. Sarah-Jane says :

    My husband pays €300 monthly to his ex for maintenance of their daughter. This is court agreed figure. There is no specification for him to pay extra for school, Christmas, birthday parties, Communion costs etc. She has not applied to court for any once off payments but is demanding he give her more money. Does he have to contribute extra even though he pays the court ordered amount each month? Also, she has not been giving him the agreed access to their daughter despite a court ordered access agreement – if he brings her back to court, will anything really change? Is there any way the court can force her to keep the access arrangement?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      There are two linked questions is here – one on maintenance and one on access. I would normally separate them. On the maintenance if there is a court order it can be changed by the agreement of the parties and if there is no agreement one or other of the parties may apply to court to change the arrangements. If there is a court order on access and someone fails to comply with it, in theory you can apply to the court and asked them to deal with the breach. There are practical difficulties however in this but it might force the unwilling party to agree with the access rather than deal with the stress of a court application.

  42. Pamela says :

    I apologise for taking this opportunity and asking for another advice if it is ok. Husband has a wage of 70k per year while I have 33k. We have a family home on which there is a mortgage of 270k left. We asked the Bank to allow the mortgage to be on my sole name and as I was to rent out a room I would have been able to pay the monthly mortgage payments myself. The bank refused us. We then agreed that we should keep the house for another 5 years and I’ll live in with the child and pay the mortgage and husband will move out and pay rent but nothing else, no maintenance towards me or the child or mortgage for this house. The house matter going to be revisited in 5 years time when I might be able to buy him out or at that time the profit on the house would be much better to allow each of us to get another property. Despite the fact that initially husband agreed to this arrangement he got upset because I am still in touch with the biological father of my child and asks to sell the house now and split the profit which would come at 30k maximum for each after paying the mortgage. My question is am I not entitled to live in the house for the child’s stability even if I can’t buy husbands share of the house now when we separate? Would a judge force me to sell the property and split the proceeds for the reason that husband is not the biological father of my child despite the fact that husband earns more than twice than I earn?

    Many thanks and really appreciate your help

    Warm regards

    Pamela

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      I would be difficult to believe – but not impossible – that a judge would would force you to sell for such a reason.

  43. Colm says :

    Hi ,my wife and I are looking to separate and are waiting on a date for mediation .
    She would like me to move out of the family home which I do not wish to do .
    She has always worked in one job or another and at one stage tried running her own business .She has a couple of small private pensions in place .
    Could you advise as to whether I am obliged to pay her spousal maintenance ,would she have a claim to my pension and savings ,and do I have to vacate the family home .The mortgage is in both names but I am the only one paying it ?
    Many thanks .

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      The first thing is, that if you do not wish to move out of the family home you do not have to do so from a legal perspective.

      If both of you work are capable of working then it is arguable that both of you should be able to maintain yourselves without reference to the other.

      In the case of savings and pensions it is usually a matter of distributing the value between the spouses depending on certain factors – such as contribution or ability to earn.

      However it is difficult in this forum to give you a definitive response – firstly, because I do not have all the details and secondly because it is obviously a matter for a court in due course as to how it views proper provision.

      I can only suggest you that the mediation process is a very worthwhile exercise rather than going to the cost and stress of litigation

  44. James says :

    Hello there,

    My son’s mum applied to the courts to move him tonthe uk and she won, despite my appeal to the High Court. Since then I have found keeping my maintenance payments (€390pm) very difficult on top of flights over and back. The maintenance was court ordered long before her application. Does that order still apply now that my son is in England? I want to have it reduced, she won’t negotiate with me, and the uk courts there said it could cost me up to £300stg just to have a review! Its all v confusing. Hope you can help.

    Kind regards
    James

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      The first thing to understand is that maintenance is always capable of variation where there is a change in circumstances. This can be an upward or downward variation. When you apply to vary maintenance you have to establish that there is a downward change in order to vary the maintenance downwards – likewise with an upward review.

      The second thing to understand is that there is no magic formula to calculate maintenance and accordingly it is a matter for the parties to either agree it or for a judge to determine it.

      Accordingly you can have a failure to agree or a judge who is either generous or not – depending on which side you are on.

      The issue for you is where the original order for maintenance was made – if it was made in Ireland you should be able to apply to an Irish court.

      However this is something that would have to be checked with your solicitor.

      1. James says :

        Hi John there is in fact a formula in England – one which the government and the courts support. So this is the basis on which I want to reduce the payments down. I will apply to the Irish courts to have it reduced to CSA lvels, as they found it acceptable to allow Jake to move over they should agree that I pay UK-level maintenance

  45. mary h says :

    Hi I have a question regarding maintenance. My husband has being paying maintenance for his daughter for the past 6 years, he has no problem paying this even though he regularly gets requests for extra money for books/appointments/ christmas etc. The child is never brought anywhere and spends most of her time with a childminder or her grandparents (except when we take her) so the maintenance is definetly not all being spent to care for her needs, my husbamd never questions the amounts he is asked for at school time or christmas time as he does not want to jeperdise the needs of the child. His ex girlfriend- the mother of the child is now expecting her second child with her new partner, they are not married but are co-habiting in her house. Would the maintenance amount be reduced considering we could effectively soon be contributing to a second child which is no relation of ours- as we have no idea what she spends the money on as it is.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      No an easy one to answer – I sympathise with your husband wanting to take any action that would affect the child. This is quite a common complaint but I would favour the approach of paying sufficient money to support the child and not try to monitor its use. The issue is the amount and can it be reduced – not unless you can show a change in circumstances that would have the effect of reducing the money available or the needs of the child.

  46. Sarah says :

    What does at present access is to be personal to the father. It is in an access agreement that was signed by both parents. Does it mean he can’t have the children near family or friends? Thanks

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      Not sure without seeing the order or document. It could mean that , but could also mean that he is to have the access rather than on behalf of his parents . If there is a good reason why the child should not be near family or friends then the first meaning – exclusive to him – may be the meaning .

  47. AC says :

    Hi. I am divorced and we have a maintenance order in place. However, I am owed €2,500 – maintenance for children of the marriage – over the period of 2015 and I now want to take him to court to try getting it back. I am very worried he will stop paying completely. I have a notice of motion and grounding affidavit form and have no idea what I need to put on them. Is it in the matter of Family law divorce act 1994? Do I just simply put arrears in maintenance on the form? Also, do I need a solicitor? Will there be court costs involved? I would hope not as he is the one who is breaking the order and he is fully employed and should have no problem paying for his children. Please advise. I’m desperate. Thank you.

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      You would usually use a solicitor to draft the paperwork . If you cannot afford one , you may be entitled to apply for Legal Aid .If you have an order you can look for an order for his attachment and committal for non-payment .

  48. Michelle says :

    Looking a bit of advise on my situation. My daughter is 8 months old, her father has never even bothered to see her. He lives in England and I live in Ireland. I sent a solicitors letter 4 months ago and he got back straight away saying he wad willing to pay and sent all of his relevent details, due to his wages my solicitir asked for 150 euro per week but this was negotiable, we have heard nothing back at all. I was wondering would it be better and quicker for me now to go straight to an English solicitor and get him summons from over there?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      You can go to an English solicitor and get an English maintenance order or go to an Irish court for an Irish order that is enforceable in the UK.

  49. Becca says :

    Hi,
    I have a very complicated issue that has arisen regarding my ex and our child.
    We were only dating for a few weeks when I fell pregnant. He was not around for the pregnancy or the birth but entered into a relationship when my son was 2 months old. He was not on my childs birth certificate but I added him when we decided to move to Spain. The relationship was abusive, physically, but more importantly emotionally, financially and verbally. I stayed with him until my son was 3, we split up after one of the most violent attacks whilst living in Spain, I still have photos and an ambulance report from Spain of that final attack.
    It went to court in Spain, but my ex left and moved back to the UK before he could be charged or any decision could be made on custody as he simply didn’t show up.
    The court granted me temporary full custody of my child on account of him not being present to contest anything.
    He left for the UK, Left a job and as my son was not in school there yet, i was left penniless and surviving of handouts from friends/family. Once my son started school in Spain a few months later I got a full time job. My ex was coming to visit my son once every 5 weeks (approximately although it could be up to 7 weeks). He paid 200 euro a month maintenance which was continuously late and I would always have to chase and often beg for. The abusive emails, phone calls and name calling has continued throughout the nearly 3 years of our separation. He once threw a can of drink over me whilst dropping my child off at my house because I overslept and didnt answer the door at the agreed time, in front of my child. Despite this I have always encouraged contact.
    In february of last year he decided to move back to Spain, I told him I would be returning to Ireland by the time the year was out. He was not paying proper maintenance once he moved to spain, i recieved dribs and drabs. I lent him money for a deposit this summer as he was homeless, he still owes me 800 euro for this.
    In spain he had my son every second weekend and one week day. Again this was only when it suited him to do so.
    I lost my job there and returned to Ireland a few months ago. My ex then moved here… 6 weeks ago. I resumed an access agreement of every second weekend and one night a week. He was promised work on arrival but it fell through so he is now on benefits and has told me he is waiting to start a job in January sometime. As well as not paying me back the 800 euro he owes me, I also have not received maintenance for my child for 4 months now. I am in a very low paid job and struggling to make ends meet here while I start again in a new country and childcare costs are literally leavving me choosing between rent payments and food… yet I am still to receive any payment for my child. On top of this he has entered in to a new relationship with an older woman (yes he has only been in the country 6 weeks or so) and my son tells me he has moved out of his home and into hers. He spent 5 nights over the christmas holidays as agreed, but my son spent it in this womans house without informing me, as he is now living there. my son has witnessed them in bed together…I find this highly inappropriate. With the access agreements we have had I think it is reasonable and responsible for both of us to be keeping any extra-relations away from our young son.
    He refuses to give me an address or home number for this woman despite him having my son there and me having full custody guardianship. he now tells me he is going for guardianship. This man has walked in and out of my childs life as he pleases…and is using the guardianship to have control over me, another form of his bullying. he has always been encouraged to have access to his son, we are both non-practicing Catholics and he has always been given access to school reports/teachers details etc. So no need to get guardianship as there is nothing to contest. He is (usually) good with my son, but I find it strange that guardianship would be given to someone with a violent history (he also has a criminal record here, in the UK and abroad) has a history of substance use and is continually verbally insulting me in front of my child. How would the courts look at this. I am happy for access to continue but I am looking for improved and regular maintenance, this to be back paid and an address/phone number of this woman he is living with. Would you advise me to withhold the contact until He provides this. I have no idea who this woman is at all. I also believe that my son should not be privy to every woman that he meets especially seeing them in bed together, I have never exposed my son to this!
    In a nutshell- access without the proper address information?
    – maintenance, back payment and money he owes me
    -gaurdianship? And can I contest this?

    1. John M. Lynch says :

      In a nutshell , on the access issue , a Court will look to the best interests of your son . Normally a Court will take the view that it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with the father . However, it is not unreasonable for you to expect that the child’s interest we respected in the context of new relationships – i.e. that discretion be exercised. On the issue of maintenance , you are entitled to such maintenance as he can afford based on his means and are entitled to make a Court application for it . It will be a matter for the Court , unless you can agree , as to what level of maintenance will be payable. The money you paid him is a debt which is recoverable by issuing proceedings. My advise to you is to consult a solicitor who will advise you in more detail.

      1. Beca says :

        And the issue of guardianship? What do you think my chances are of successfully contesting this given the new laws coming into force in 2016 and the history of the father continuously moving in and out of the child’s life and his history. How should I best approach this? Thank you.