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Family Maintenance Payments Under Court Orders

Maintenance payments that have been issued under a court order are legally binding and can have severe consequences if you fall into arrears. Amount variations can be approved but require legal authorisation.

Family Maintenance Payments Under Court Orders

Legally, both parents are responsible are for financial support of any children they have together. When a relationship breaks down and there are young children involved, the parent who is not living with the children on a day-to-day basis will be required to provide financial support to their ex-partner. It is expected that this money will be used to help with the day-to-day living costs of the children.

It may be possible for you and your ex-partner to come to an arrangement regarding a suitable monthly payment between yourselves. This is known as a family-based arrangement. If you are both happy to do this, then this is often the quickest way of sorting things out. However, before agreeing to this course of action, you should both be aware that any payments under this type of agreement are not legally binding, meaning that missed payments are not enforceable by law.

If you cannot agree to a family-based arrangement for any reason, or if an existing arrangement has broken down, you can have the maintenance payment settled by a court order. This means that should payments not be made, the court can step in.

If you are responsible for making maintenance payments to an ex-partner and you are struggling to keep on top of them, you should take steps to sort the situation out as soon as possible. If your financial circumstances worsen, or if you are having serious difficulties in making the payments you owe, it may be possible to renegotiate the agreed amount and get it lowered. This process is known as ‘varying’. If your payments are under an existing court order, only the court is able to change the amount. So even if you and your ex-partner come to an agreement regarding the amount of your maintenance payment, this will still have to go through the courts.

If you have already fallen behind on your payments you should seek expert debt advice as a matter of urgency. Court-ordered maintenance payments are legally-bound so your failure to make them in full and on time can have serious consequences. Arrears can build quickly and you can even have your driving licence revoked if you continue to miss payments.

At Northern Ireland Debt Solutions, we can help you get your finances back on track in a way that is workable and affordable. We pride ourselves on taking an individual approach to each and every customer, ensuring the solution we suggest is appropriate for you and your personal circumstances. Call us now and take the first step towards a debt free future.

Lawrence O'Hara

Insolvency Adviser

Tel: 028 2132 6269

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