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If you are unmarried, and the father of your child is not paying maintenance, you can apply under the Affiliation Law for an order that he should pay you maintenance for the child. You should apply either within 12 months of the birth of the child or when the father stops paying you maintenance.

If you are married, and your husband is not supporting you and/or your children, you can apply for an order under the Maintenance Law that he should pay maintenance for you and your children. You can also apply for maintenance for children living with you at the time of your marriage.

If you are divorced, or a divorce application is pending, you must apply in the divorce proceedings in the Grand Court.

How Can I Apply?

You should call the Court Office (914-3826 or 949-4296) and ask to speak to the affiliation and maintenance officer. Tell the officer that you would like an appointment to discuss an affiliation or maintenance order. When you attend the interview you should bring with you your original marriage certificate (if appropriate) and birth certificate for any child for whom you are claiming maintenance. You should bring photocopies of these certificates. You should also bring details of the work and home addresses and the telephone numbers of your husband or father of the child.

What Happens Next?

You will be asked questions and will be required to swear an affidavit setting out the details of your claim. A summons will then be issued and served on the person you claim should be paying you maintenance. That summons will contain a hearing date when you and he should come to court.

At the court hearing the Magistrate may wish to hear evidence from you to prove your claim. You should come to the hearing with any documentary evidence you have, including details of your income and expenses and, if known, the person you claim should be paying you maintenance.

What Order Will Be Made?

If you are not married, the Magistrate will have to decide if the man is the father of the child. Sometimes it may be necessary to order a blood test, and you may be asked to contribute towards the cost of that test. If the magistrate decides the man is the father of the child, an affiliation order to support the child may be made. That order is to cover the maintenance and education of the child. If you are married the magistrate may make an order for maintenance for you and any child. When making these orders the magistrate will take into account the ability of the individuals to pay maintenance.

How Will I Get Paid?

The person paying the order is asked to collect a maintenance payment book from the maintenance officer at the Court Office. When an order is made you may choose to receive payment in one of the following ways:

  • For the money to be paid to you personally. However, you should keep records of payments and give receipts. This will avoid disputes about the amount paid.
  • For the money to be paid into a bank or other account.
  • For the money to be paid to the Court Funds Office at the Treasury Department, Government Administration Building. The Court Funds Office will then send a cheque to you by mail or pay the money into a bank account of your choice. You can also collect the cheque if you wish, but you should first telephone the Courts Fund Office to ensure that a cheque is available.

What If I Do Not Get Paid?

If you are not paid in accordance with the order, you should tell the affiliation and maintenance officer. Do not let the arrears accumulate. You can apply for an attachment of earnings order if you know that the person liable to make the payments is employed. If such an order is made the Courts directs that the money be deducted from the wages of an employee.

How Long Does The Order Last?

An order for maintenance ceases when that child becomes 14 years of age, and an affiliation order ceases when that child becomes 15 years of age. However, you may apply to the Court to extend the order. You should discuss this with the affiliation and maintenance officer.

Can I Get Legal Aid?

No. Legal Aid in civil action is only granted in the Grand Court. However, you may be eligible for legal aid if you are a victim of domestic violence and you decide to start divorce proceedings, or if the arrears have to be enforced in the Grand Court.

How Much Will This Cost?

The application is free.

Last Updated: 2012-11-13