A maintenance claim is where you wish to receive money from the other parent of your child in order to help pay for its upbringing.
You can make an application to the Financial Provision Court when you wish to receive maintenance from your child’s father/mother, but where you are not, nor ever have been married to them.
If you are married to the child’s mother/father, then your application will go through the Civil Division - Family Business.
If you make a claim then it is up to you to make sure the claim is served. If you cannot serve the claim, and the coroner cannot serve it either, then your case cannot be heard.
If you have been unable to reach an agreement with the other parent of the child, you may decide to apply to the court for an order. Unlike in the Civil Division - Family Business, you can only claim for monthly payments for the benefit of the child, you cannot claim any money for yourself.
Going to court should be a last resort.
If you can reach an agreement with the other parent it will save both your, and the courts time. If you reach an agreement you should inform the court in writing. The court will then make an order administratively and send a copy to each party.
If the respondent to the application can prove they are unable to pay, the court may not make an order at this time.
However if the respondent to the application, at a later date, becomes financially able to pay, you will need to make another application to the court.
Although it is not always necessary to have an advocate it is recommended that you seek legal advice. Please note that court staff cannot give you any advice.
In order to make an application for financial provision, you must first fill in, and return to the court, 2 copies of Form - HBC 1 Application for Financial Provision for Children (PDF), and 3 copies of Form C5/FPC3 - Statement/Affidavit of Means (Word, PDF). These forms can also be obtained by coming in to the public counter at the courthouse, or telephoning the Courts Office.
What if the respondent lives in England or Wales?
If the respondent lives in England or Wales, under the reciprocal agreement between the Isle of Man and England and Wales, it will be served on them at their place of residence in England or Wales. The court case however will still take place in the Isle of Man. However it is still your responsibility to ensure it is served on the respondent, and if you cannot do this then the case cannot go to court.
What happens next?
The forms will be processed by the court, and two copies will be returned to you. It is then up to you to serve a copy of the form on the respondent. If you cannot serve it yourself, you can instruct a coroner to do it for you (note the coroner may charge a fee, details of which can be found on the Coroners Fees Order 2009).
What can the respondent do?
The respondent can either:
agree to pay the amount you have sought in the application
defend the application in court
not to reply to the application.
Will the case go straight to court?
If the respondent decides to defend the application, the matter will be set down for a 10 minute directions hearing.
What will the judge do?
In this directions hearing, the judge will decide a timetable for the case, as well as instructing both parties as to the documents he wants filing. He will not make a decision yet.
What documents will I have to give the court and respondent?
You will have to supply your statement of means. This will include your outgoings such as bills, mortgages, rent, living expenses, travel expenses, school expenses and any expenses. If you are living with a new partner or spouse, you will have to supply information about their finances as well.
What happens when the maintenance application comes to court?
When the maintenance application comes to court, you will be required to attend to hear the judge's decision. For more information see attending the Courts of Summary Jurisdiction - Financial Provision.
How will I know?
The respondent to the application will contact you directly informing you that they agree to pay the amount in your application.
How do I accept?
If you accept the respondent to the application's payment offer, you should convey your acceptance to them directly. You should then inform the court, in writing, of your acceptance of the repondent to the application's offer . The judge will then make an order administratively, send a copy to each party and the payments will commence.
What if the respondent to the application agrees to payments, but not to the amount I have asked for?
If you and the respondent to the application cannot agree on an amount of the payments, you may make an application to the court for the judge to determine.
If the respondent decides that he doesn’t agree with paying you any maintenance, or he does not agree with the amount of money you are asking for, they may decide to dispute the application.
If this is the case, then the application must be brought into court for the respondent to present his objections to the order, and any evidence he has for his case.
The respondent may decide to make you a compromise on the amount to be paid while the court hearing is ongoing.
What if I want to accept the respondent's compromise?
If you decide that you want to accept the respondent’s compromise offer, then you should inform the court. The High Bailiff will then make an order substituting the amount you applied for, with the amount you have agreed on.
What if I don't want to accept the respondent's compromise?
If you decide not to accept any compromise offer from the respondent, then the application will continue with the High Bailiff.
If the respondent has refused to pay you maintenance after a court order, you must bring the application back to the court. The maintenance department at the courts will then take action.
How will I get my money?
There are various ways in which the court will try and recover your money. They will firstly summon the respondent to court to try and enforce the order and see why they are not paying. The court may also apply;
an attachment of earnings order
an arrestment order
a charging order.
If the respondent continues to avoid paying maintenance, then the ultimate sanction would be a prison sentence.
Over time you circumstances may change, you may need more maintenance money to cover any additional costs that arise, or you may decide that you do not need as much as is being currently paid.
Varying the amount paid
If you wish to change the amount you are being paid in maintenance, then you need to fill in and return to court Form FPC 2 - Application For The Variation (or revocation) Of a Financial Provision Order (Word doc) (PDF). The circumstances when this may be necessary include;
loss of your job
you have a better paid job
you have a long term illness that is preventing you from working
you have remarried, or are now co-habiting with another partner
the child's educational or health needs have changed
the parent looking after the child has changed/the child has been taken into care.
If you wish to vary the amount you are being paid, you will need to submit documents in evidence of your reason for the variation of the maintenance.