Maintenance Orders - applying for a variance
Updated 25 April 2016
Words you may need to know
Petitioner - someone who is taking another person to court for a divorce
Variation - a change
Maintenance order - an order made by the court saying how much someone should pay to another for them or their children/s living expenses
Parties- people involved in the case
Affidavit of means - this is a list of all the assets such as property, pensions and things owned by someone and all the income and payments they have to pay out. This helps the court decide how much someone should pay or get.
C4 Form - this is a form used to give details of income and expenditure in children proceedings.
Can a Maintenance Order be changed after it has been granted?
Sometimes after an order has been given by the court, peoples' lives change and they may need more money, or can't afford to pay what was agreed. If this happens, then they can go back to court and ask for the order to be changed.
Most orders for maintenance say they can be changed in the future as the circumstances of the parties change. This is known as 'varying' the order, and one of the parties must ask for a 'Variation Order' by applying to the Judicial Greffe, Family Division.
How to apply
Using a lawyer
The person who wants the change is known as the Applicant. You can do it yourself, or you can use a lawyer, possibly using Legal Aid. If you used a Legal Aid lawyer before, then it is sometimes better to use the same lawyer, but the firm may send you back to the Acting Bâtonnier for another 'Legal Aid certificate' if the order was made some time ago.
Any request to the Court to vary or stop a maintenance payment should be made as soon as possible to the court which made the order. Otherwise the person who is owed the maintenance can go to the Petty Debts Court and recover any money they are owed as stated in the order. The Petty Debts Court has no power to change an order and will simply grant judgement. Therefore, an application for a variation of maintenance must be made before the Petty Debts Court hearing.
You can apply in person
- You must make sure you have all the information, such as:
- The case number from the original granting of the Maintenance Order, or
- The file number, on the top right hand corner of the Order
- Make sure the wording of the order allows for a variation or change
- The name and address of the other party - 'the Respondent'
- A breakdown of the family finances, or details of any change which has taken place, e.g. increase in school fees, loss of income support.
- Photocopy of the order that is to be varied
How to do it
The applicant who may be the Petitioner or Respondent in the divorce case, uses Form 15 (Form 15)to summons or order the other party to attend the Family Division of the Judicial Greffe.
If the applicant is not married a C2 form will be used, under the Children Law, Children Forms
The summons must be served to the Respondent or their lawyer with about one week's notice of the date and time which the Petitioner has arranged with the Family Division (these meetings take place between 9.00am and 10.00am). The Form 15 must have a £150.00 stamp from the States Treasury attached, the C2 has a fee of £120.00
This first meeting called a preliminary directions hearing. At the first meeting parties will be ordered to file affidavits of means and will be given any other relevant directions, like producing bank statements and wage slips.
The next meeting is called a case review hearing, when the affidavits will be available to both parties and the court. Many cases are resolved at the case review hearing on the basis of the affidavits. However if the matter cannot be resolved, a final hearing date will need to be fixed. If this is necessary, evidence may need to be heard.
Both parties attend at the Judicial Greffe for the preliminary hearing to fix a date when they will meet to arrange a date for the actual hearing.
The decision made at the final hearing is binding on both parties and the new figures form the changed Maintenance Order unless it is varied again, or the Order ends.
Any further details can be obtained from the Family Division, Judicial Greffe, telephone 441300 or on the following link.