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Possible orders by the court

The orders the court may make depend on type of application filed. Some examples include:

The court may order the respondent to provide maintenance through one or more of the following ways:

  • Fixed monthly payments.
  • Reimbursement (repayment) of specific expenses, either in full or in part.
  • Direct payment of expenses to a service provider (such as a childcare centre or utilities provider).

If a fresh maintenance order is made, it will state:

  • The amount of maintenance to be paid.
  • When it is to be paid.
  • To whom it should be paid.
  • The method of payment.

The court may make an order to enforce an existing maintenance order against the respondent who does not comply with the order. These may include any of the following:

  • Sentencing the respondent to a maximum of 1 month's imprisonment for each month of unpaid maintenance.
  • An Attachment of Earnings Order, which directs the respondent's employer to deduct the portion of maintenance from the respondent's salary and make direct payment to the applicant.
  • A Garnishee Order, which orders a garnishee (someone who owes the respondent money) to pay the money owed to the applicant instead of the respondent.
  • An order for the respondent to give a banker’s guarantee against future defaults.
  • An order for the respondent to undergo financial counselling.
  • An order for the respondent to perform community service.

The court may make an order to vary (change) or revoke (cancel) an existing order made by the Family Courts.

The type of variation depends on what the applicant is asking for. Some examples include:

  • Increasing the fixed monthly payments.
  • Decreasing the fixed monthly payments.
  • Inserting or removing clauses to the maintenance order.
  • Suspending maintenance for a period of time.

How the court decides on the order

Factors that the court may consider may include (but are not limited to):

For fresh maintenance applications

  • The financial needs of the person applying for maintenance.
  • The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources (if any) of the person applying for maintenance.
  • Whether the person applying for maintenance has any physical or mental disability.
  • Each party's contributions to the family, including looking after the home and caring for the family.
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the person applying for maintenance before the respondent neglected to provide maintenance.
  • (If a child is involved) The way the parties in the marriage expected the child to be educated or trained.

Refer to Section 69 of the Women's Charter for more information.

For applications to enforce an existing maintenance order

  • Whether there is unpaid maintenance (arrears).
  • The respondent's reasons for the arrears.
  • Repayment of the arrears.

Refer to Section 71 of the Women's Charter and Paragraph 25 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions for more information.

For applications to vary an existing maintenance order

  • Proof of a change in circumstance or good cause justifying the variation for the payor or recipient of the maintenance.
    • Such change or cause can apply to the payor or recipient of maintenance, or both.
    • Such change or cause should have occurred after the existing maintenance order was made.
    • Changes include changes in the parties' (and, if applicable, the child's) financial or personal circumstances and requirements
  • Any change in the general cost of living since the existing maintenance order was made.

Refer to Section 72 of the Women's Charter for more information.

After an order is made

A maintenance order must be obeyed unless it is cancelled, suspended or varied.

If a party does not comply

If a party who is supposed to provide maintenance as part of a maintenance order does not comply, the other party may file another maintenance application to enforce the order under Section 71 of the Women's Charter.

If you are not satisfied: appeal

If you are not satisfied with the court's decision, you may appeal to the Family Division of the High Court by filing a Notice of Appeal.

You need to file and serve the notice within 14 days after the date the order was made.

You must also provide security for the other party’s costs of the appeal. This will cost $3,000. Find out more about appeals.

Need help?

The information here is for general guidance as the courts do not provide legal advice. If you need further help, you may want to get independent legal advice.

Find out more

Resources

Refer to the maintenance brochure:

Go to Step-by-step guide

Step-by-step guide

2021/07/23

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