failure to maintain

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The failure of either spouse to provide reasonable maintenance for the other or to make a proper contribution towards the maintenance of any children of the family during the subsistence of the marriage. Upon proof of such failure, magistrates' courts have jurisdiction to make orders for unsecured periodical payments and for lump-sum orders not exceeding £1,000. The divorce county courts and High Court have power to make orders for periodical payment (which may also be secured by a charge on the property of the respondent spouse) and for lump-sum orders (of any sum). It is no longer necessary to prove wilful neglect to maintain (i.e. deliberate withholding of maintenance). Under the Child Support Act 1991, application for periodical payments for children can now usually be made directly to the Child Support Agency (see child support maintenance) rather than the court.

Subjects: Law.

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