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Who can apply?
Parents or guardians: A parent or guardian can apply for child maintenance in the magistrate’s court. Such a person can seek an order for maintenance against a person who is a parent of the child. A parent or guardian applying for maintenance must be a resident of T&T and must have the care and control of the child or children.
Cohabitants: A person who was a party to a cohabitational relationship that has ended can also apply to the court for a maintenance order. A cohabitational relationship is one between a man and woman who, not being legally married to each other, live or have lived together as husband and wife. To apply for a maintenance order, one or both of the parties must live in Trinidad and Tobago, and both parties must have lived together in the country for at least one third of the relationship.
The applicant must also satisfy the court that he or she:
• Has lived together with the other party for no less than five years.
• Has a child arising out of the cohabitational relationship.
• Has made substantial contributions (direct or indirect, financial or non financial.
Spouses: The law also allows for a person whose spouse has failed to provide proper maintenance for him or her to apply to the magistrate’s court for maintenance.
When can I apply?
A parent or guardian can apply for child maintenance at any time before the child reaches the age of 18 years. A person who was a party to a cohabitational relationship that has ended must apply for maintenance within two years after they stopped living together. However, a magistrate may allow an application to be made after this time if satisfied that to refuse it would result in undue hardship to the cohabitant or to a child of the cohabitational relationship.
A spouse can apply for maintenance in the magistrate’s court at any time during the course of the marriage as long as the need arises.
How can I apply?
A person applying for maintenance must go to the Family Court or to the magistrate’s court in their district, where they will be given a standard application form to complete. This form must be taken to the Clerk of the Peace at the court.
When applying for child maintenance, the fee for an unmarried person is three dollars per child. The fee for a married person is three dollars regardless of the number of children the application is being made for. The child’s birth certificate and the home or business address of the parent against whom the order is being sought must be provided.
When applying for maintenance following a cohabitational relationship or for maintenance from a spouse, the same fee applies. It is also necessary to present the birth certificate of the person making the application and the home or business address of the person against whom the maintenance order is sought.