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Buachaill, Lawyer
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Satisfied Customers: 10527
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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I have a maintenance agreement/court order where I have to

Customer Question

Hi I have a maintenance agreement/court order where I have to pay my wife as long as my son remains 'dependant'. 19 years old, he was in university studying computer programming but dropped out a few months ago so ordinarily I suppose the maintenance could stop. However he has Asperger's Syndrome (not obvious, mostly awkward social skills) and may find it hard to get a job. My wife, through her solicitor, is arguing that he is still dependant because of his condition. He did not qualify for any state support related to his condition when in university nor does he now I believe. I'm not sure if he will receive any unemployment assistance but in any case, he has secured two months office work covering at a very junior level as a clerk. Am I obliged to pay maintenance. Is he a dependant? Affordability is an issue for me but it frustrates me that the money doesn't seem to be spent on him in any case. I note the law seems to say he is dependant if he can't fully maintain himself. How is that defined? He is a lovely young adult, intelligent and is capable of working. However, he is certainly hampered by being embarrassed in large crowds and probably lacks confidence as a result. Would I need to go to the court to get the maintenance order varied as I would not like to be in breach under any circumstances. My wife's solicitor has written saying I'm in breach and that she will go to the court and will also seek for me to pay her costs. Would he qualify for unemployment assistance when he is not working and is that relevant? Is that he is working now temporarily relevant? Thank you.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 11 months ago.

1. The bot***** *****ne here is that your son is no longer 'dependent" as he is now working. So any child maintenance would normally stop. However, the other thing you should be aware of, is that once your son was 18, you should have been paying the maintenance to him directly and not to his mother. In that way, you wouldn't have the complaint that little of it gets spent on him.

Expert:  Buachaill replied 11 months ago.

2. Whilst the law has not extended as far as requiring child maintenance to be paid when a child is over 18, no longer dependent and has a minor mental impairment, it is something you should work out with your son directly. A little help from a parent goes a long way, even if it is only to know that someone is there if he is without any money. However, in law, the fact your son has Asperger's Syndrome does not extend the period during which you have to pay child maintenance. The child maintenance obligation here ended when your son got a job.

Expert:  Buachaill replied 11 months ago.

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for this. You are the first person to highlight that the maintenance should have been paid to my son directly. Can I clarify if he becomes dependent when he stops working as he has only obtained a temporary position and will likely be out of work again soon? Should I do anything in terms of formalizing my position with the court as I don't want to risk being accused of being in breach of a court order?
Expert:  Buachaill replied 11 months ago.

4. The obligation to pay maintenance does not flip back into existence if your son stops working. Once he stops being dependent upon ceasing to go to college, the maintenance requirement ends. So, in law, you cannot be made pay child maintenance if he stops working. Secondly, you don't need to formalise your position with the court. Essentially, the order for child maintenance is now extant (no longer operative) as your son is no longer dependent.