How to Pursue Arrears of Maintenance

arrears of maintenance

Have you a Court Order for maintenance but payments are not being made?

You can pursue the arrears of maintenance, and the creditor runs the risk of going to jail for contempt of court.

How do you pursue arrears?

Firstly, you must make an application for the issue of a summons. It shall be in writing (and may be by the lodgment with the Clerk of a completed draft form of summons) and shall include:

(a) a copy of the antecedent order concerned;

(b) the period(s) for which the monetary amounts directed to be paid by the antecedent order have not been duly paid;

(c) the amount of the arrears, and any amount provided by the antecedent order for costs and expenses which is unpaid;

(d) a statement that the applicant understands that the information included in the application may have to be proved on oath at the hearing of any summons issued on foot of the application.

The summons shall be in the Form 57.1 or Form 57.3 Schedule C. The summons shall, in addition to requiring the attendance of the defaulter at a sitting of the Court, also require the defaulter to complete, detach and lodge with the Clerk not less than one week before the date of the said sitting a statement of means and assets (in the Form 53.3 Schedule C, with the necessary modifications), which shall be attached to the summons.

Persons affected by garnishee order

A person served with an order who is unable to comply with the order may apply to the Court by notice of application in the Form 57.5 Schedule C to set aside or vary the order. A copy of the notice shall be served on the defaulter and on the applicant not later than seven days before the hearing of the application and the original notice shall be lodged with the Clerk not later than four days before the hearing of the application.

Warrant of detention

Where a failure by the maintenance debtor is treated as constituting contempt of court and an order of imprisonment is made, the warrant of detention shall be in accordance with Form 57.7 or 57.8Schedule C, as appropriate.

Application to purge contempt

  1. Where a person is imprisoned for contempt of court in accordance with section 9A of the Act of 1976:

(a) the person shall be notified in writing of the action required to purge his contempt;

(b) the Court may direct that, if the contempt has not previously been purged, the person shall be brought back before the Court at a place and time fixed by the Court.


The above is a summarised version only of what’s involved.

Even though you can follow this procedure yourself you might be better off engaging the services of a solicitor to ensure you are professionally represented and are not given the run around by somebody who does not hold Court Orders or their maintenance obligations in high regard.