Applying to change a Maintenance Order
Can a Maintenance Order be changed?
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 you will still need to make a new application and can include details of your previous lawyer if you would prefer to see them again.
Any request to the Court to vary or stop a maintenance payment should be made as soon as possible, as the person who is owed the maintenance can go to the Petty Debts Court to pursue arrears. The Petty Debts Court has no power to change an order and will simply grant judgement.
You can apply in person
- You must make sure you have all the information, such as
- The case number from the original Maintenance Order, or
- The file number, on the top right hand corner of the Order
- The name and address of the other party, who is 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
If the order was part of a divorce, use Form 15.
If the applicant was not married, use Form C2.
The summons must be served to the Respondent or their lawyer with one week’s notice of the date and time which the Petitioner has arranged with the Family Division. The Form 15 must have a £150.00 stamp from the States Treasury attached. The C2 has a fee of £120.00. It is possible to apply to waive this fee by writing to the Viscount’s Department, giving details of your circumstances, your finances, the application you intend to make and why. If the department agrees, they will issue an Exemption Certificate.
The first meeting is called a preliminary direction hearing. 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. 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 unless it is varied again or the Order ends.