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Mum objects to just €30 in maintenance

A MOTHER of one has challenged a District Court judge's decision to reduce the maintenance which her former husband must pay to her from €220 a week to €30 a week.

Last July, after the woman sought an order compelling her former husband to pay arrears of maintenance, Judge Hugh O'Donnell agreed to her ex-husband's application to vary her maintenance payment and suspended any payment of arrears.

The woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has now initiated judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

Her lawyers have argued that by agreeing to her husband's request the judge erred in law, acted outside his jurisdiction, and in breach of fair process.

It is also claimed that the reduction of the payments and suspension of arrears caused the woman, who has health problems, financial hardship.

In her proceedings against Judge O'Donnell, the woman is seeking an order quashing the Judge's decision to vary the payment order. She is also seeking an order quashing the Judge's decision to refuse to order her ex-husband to pay arrears.

At the High Court Conor Power, for the woman, said that she and her former husband obtained a decree of divorce from the Circuit Family Court some years ago. The husband, was directed to pay €150 per week maintenance to his ex-wife and €75 per week in respect of their child.

He said his client's former husband failed to comply with these maintenance payments, and fell into arrears.

Mr Power said his client had sought an enforcement order in respect of the arrears.

When that came before Judge O'Donnell at the District Court last July, the former husband made an application to vary the payments order.

Counsel said his client was taken by surprise by this.

In addition his client was not legally represented as her solicitor was unable to attend court that day. Mr Power said that the judge allowed his client's ex husband to vary the maintenance order down to €30.

The judge further suspended the arrears of maintenance.

Leave to bring the challenge was granted, on an ex-parte basis, by Mr Justice Michael Peart. It was made returnable to a date later this year.