Access & Maintenance

Family Law

Divorce and separation are highly stressful life events, for couples and any children involved.

Thomasina Connell & Co. Solicitors have extensive experience in all aspects of Family Law. We seek to assist you, in an empathetic and sensitive manner. Our aim is to help you find the quickest, most cost effective and practical solution.

What About Maintenance Payments?

Parents all have legal obligations to make maintenance payments for their children. For parents, it does not matter if they are married or living together – the financial duty of care is the same.

Regarding couples, spouses and civil partners also have legal maintenance obligations to each other. Partners co-habiting do not have the same rights in law. The only exception to this, is if one can prove that they are financially dependent on the other.

In separation and divorce, maintenance covers the right to receive financial support and the obligation to provide it. Usually, the partner with main custody of the child seeks maintenance from the other parent.

How Much Are Maintenance Payments in Ireland?

There is no universal rule or set formula for calculating maintenance in Ireland. Every situation will be considered, due to the unique circumstances of the family involved. Maintenance payments cover costs such as clothing, food, and housing.

If a couple cannot agree on how much should be paid, your solicitor will intervene to advocate for the best for you, and any children. When couples can agree, they solidify this in a Court Order. If they cannot, they apply to the court for a Maintenance Order. Once these are decided upon by the court, it is extremely difficult to alter elements of the order.

Custody and Guardianship

Guardianship covers the rights, responsibilities, and obligations that parent – and sometimes other adults – have for custody of children. A parent or guardian has a duty of care towards the child. They also have the right to make decisions on behalf of a child, such as baptism, blood transfusions and schooling.

In Ireland, parents, and at times grandparents, are usually the guardians involved in a child’s care.

Guardianship Rights

For opposite sex couples who are married, both parents are automatic guardians from birth. It is more complex for same sex marries couples, unmarried couples, step-parents and any other less “traditional” parental arrangements. Legal guidance is paramount in these circumstances.

Grandparents can apply to be a guardian if they have lived with a parent for at least 3 years and co-parented for over 2 years. Grandparents can also secure the role of guardian if they provided daily care to a child for over a year.

Not all legal guardians, will be granted custody of a child. A lot depends on the conduct of a guardian, and what is deemed most beneficial for the child’s wellbeing and safety.

This summary of key aspects of family law, highlight the complexity of these issues. Contact Thomasina Connell on 045-525125 to discuss any aspect of family law, and ensure the best for yourself, and your family. She can also be contacted via

The breakdown of any relationship can be a particularly difficult and stressful time. It can be very challenging to make decisions that are in the best interests of you and your children. It is important to obtain legal advice at an early stage to ensure that you know your rights and your entitlements.

Where one parent is the primary carer of the children and cannot meet their financial needs, they can seek to have the other parent discharge Maintenance in respect of the dependent children. Maintenance is money towards the day to day costs a child incurs: food, clothing, schooling & medical/dental costs as well as costs of extra-curricular activities, school trips etc.

Maintenance can of course be paid by agreement. If no agreement can be reached between the parties, an application can be made in the District Court for a Maintenance Order to be made, whereby a Judge makes a decision on the amount and frequency of the Maintenance to be paid by one party to the other.

Access is the word used to describe the right of a child to have access with the parent/guardian that they do not live with, in order to spend time together. If one parent works full-time it can often be the case that the childs access to that parent would take place in the evenings or at weekends. It is essential at the outset of a relationship breakdown that a solid plan is put in place to ensure that there is stability and certainty for the child/children around access to the other parent.

It should be possible to agree an access plan however if no agreement can be reached an application can be made to the District Court to have a Judge rule on the issue of access. As these types of cases involve children, any decision made by the Court will be made in the child’s best interests. Depending on the age of the child, the Court can take into account their views.   

Once a formal Court Order is made in relation to access, it must be adhered to my both parties and cannot be altered unless one party make an application for a Variation of Access.

If one of the parties deliberately breaches the Court Order setting out the access consistently, the other party can bring an application to the District Court for a Breach of the Order.