Can I Ask The Court To Order Child Maintenance?

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On divorce, spouses may find themselves in financial remedy proceedings to decide how their financial assets will be divided. As part of these proceedings, a financially weaker spouse may ask the court to order ongoing monthly maintenance payments to be made to them by the financially stronger spouse. However, there will often be child maintenance payments due to one party, depending on where the children live and how much time they spend with the other parent.

In general, maintenance is dealt with by applying to the Child Maintenance Service. The court does not in general have the power to make an order for maintenance, as this is the responsibility of the Child Maintenance Service.

What is a global maintenance order or a Segal order?

A global maintenance order, sometimes known as a Segal order due to its origins with District Judge Segal, is one way in which the court can make an order which covers some maintenance costs. It works by making clear that any future maintenance due according to a child maintenance assessment will be deducted from the amount of maintenance ordered by the court. Therefore, the financially stronger spouse will pay the amount due according to the Child Maintenance Service assessment in the normal way, and in addition will pay the difference between that sum and the amount ordered in global maintenance.

In order for the court to make a global maintenance order, there must be a basis for spousal maintenance, meaning maintenance for the benefit of the financially weaker party. This must be due in addition to maintenance for the benefit of any child.

When can the court order child maintenance?

There are some exceptional circumstances in which the court has the power to order maintenance:

  • The Child Maintenance Service does not have jurisdiction.
  • The terms of a child maintenance order are agreed between the parties. However, this can be overridden by a Child Maintenance Service assessment.
  • The order is for educational expenses.
  • The order is for costs of a child’s disability.
  • The order is for an amount to ‘top-up’ payments beyond the maximum Child Maintenance Service assessment.
  • The order is against the parent with care of the child.

This is a technical area of law, and therefore specialist legal advice is recommended.

Here to Help

If you need advice on any family matter, please get in touch with Tracey Dargan, Partner and Head of Family and Divorce.

Please note the contents of this article are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.