What happens with maintenance payments during the Covid-19 crisis?
We live in uncertain times and many people have lost their jobs, been laid off or had their salaries reduced. How does this affect maintenance payments?
This is our advice.
If you have been paying maintenance and your income has been reduced
Communication with your ex-partner is vital at this time. You should tell your ex-partner or spouse as soon as possible that your income has been reduced. Send them proof such as a letter from your employer or payslip. The sooner you do this the better, as it will help your ex-partner to adjust their budget accordingly.
You should discuss the amount you can afford to pay and try to agree a reduced amount. This can be adjusted when the crisis is over and when you return to work.
It is very important that whatever is agreed between you is set out in writing and acknowledged by the other. This can be done by email or text.
If you cannot agree a reduced figure, contact your solicitor immediately who will write to your ex-partner/spouse or their solicitor and notify them of the need to vary maintenance.
If you have been receiving maintenance and your income has been reduced or your former partner’s income has been reduced, or both your incomes have been reduced
Again, communication is key here, as set out above. The main priority is that your children are properly provided for in the current circumstances. The needs of the children must be the main priority.
Try to reach agreement with your ex-partner. If you can reach agreement, ensure it is acknowledged in writing, either by text or email. If this is not possible, contact your solicitor
Court Mandated Maintenance
If your maintenance has been determined by a Court, this order remains in place and any period of reduced payments may lead to arrears building up. Therefore it is absolutely vital that there is written acknowledgement of any agreement to reduce maintenance. If the reduction cannot be agreed, you should contact your solicitor who will take the necessary steps to make an application to court to vary the Maintenance Order.
One Parent Family Payments
If your maintenance payment has stopped and you are in receipt of a One Parent Family payment, contact your local Intreo Centre immediately and provide a letter stating that you are no longer receiving maintenance. The Department of Social Protection will revise their One Parent Family payment to you for a period of 12 weeks. The matter will be reviewed after 12 weeks.
We are in uncharted waters at the moment. We do not know how long the current difficulties will continue. These are very stressful times for separated couples and requires a greater level of co-operation between separated couples than ever before.
For more information on family law, contact Helen Coughlan at firstname.lastname@example.org