Child support: who pays and how is it calculated?

Child support – what exactly does that mean? Who is responsible for child support and how is it calculated? Find the most important information about child support here and also find out in which cases child support does not have to be paid.

Child support is a child’s claim against its parents. Here in Germany it is regulated by law and, in addition to upbringing and care, includes the obligation to financially meet the child’s living needs.

Contrary to what is used colloquially, the term “child maintenance” actually means more than just a financial obligation. In the case of separated parents, the maintenance obligation towards their child is usually divided up as follows:

  • The parent with whom the child lives fulfills his duty through education and care.
  • The parent with whom the child does not live fulfills his obligation by making a financial contribution.

As a rule, the parent who does not live with the child is responsible for paying child support. It doesn’t matter whether the parents were married or not.

Who is entitled to child support?

In principle, minor children have a full right to child support. Adult children are also entitled to maintenance , but only if they are still in education or looking for a job. Whether they still live in the household of one of their parents or not is irrelevant. In general, adult children are required to complete their training or studies with determination and to earn their own living. Children between the ages of 18 and 21 who still live with one parent and still go to school are referred to as “privileged adults”. Their position largely corresponds to that of minors.

In the case of children of full age, both parents are generally responsible for maintenance. How high your share is depends on your income and must be calculated individually.

How is child support calculated?

The amount to be paid depends on the income of the parent responsible for maintenance and the age of the child. The calculation is based on the so-called Düsseldorf table , a court-written guideline for the standardization of maintenance claims. In principle, however, parents are free to arrange the maintenance payments themselves. However, both parties must then agree. Reductions that have not been agreed beforehand are not possible. For example, a dependent father cannot simply reduce child support because he bought clothes for his child. The same applies to the travel and subsistence costs incurred when a child visits the parent who is responsible for maintenance.

There are other factors that affect the amount of child support. For example, child support is reduced if child benefit is paid: In the case of underage children, half of the child benefit amount is offset against the maintenance claim, and in the case of adult children, the full amount. In addition, in the case of children of full age, their own income is also counted towards child support.

Other child support costs

Conversely, further costs can arise as part of child support due to so-called special or additional needs:

  • There is a special need if unforeseeable and one-time high costs are incurred, for example in the case of a class trip scheduled at short notice.
  • Additional needs mean that higher costs are incurred temporarily over a longer period of time, for example if the child receives private tuition.

The costs arising from special or additional needs are divided proportionally between both parents. An allowance of currently 1100 euros is taken into account. Here’s an example:

Suppose the costs for the tutoring are 300 euros per month. The father earns 4,000 euros a month and the mother 1,500 euros. After deducting the tax-free allowance, the father still has 2,900 euros and the mother 400 euros. This works out to a total of 3,300 euros, of which the father holds 88% and the mother 12%. These percentage shares are converted to the 300 euros. According to this, the father has to contribute 264 euros and the mother 60 euros to the tutoring.

Child Support: Health insurance not included

Child support does not cover child health insurance costs. Depending on the insurance situation, additional costs may also arise here.

Deductible before child support

In order for a parent who is responsible for maintenance to be able to live well on their own with low income, they are granted a certain minimum monthly amount, the so-called deductible . The amount of the deductible depends on whether the affected parent is employed and on the age of the child. This results in the following limits:

  • EUR 1,080 if you are gainfully employed and the child is a minor or one of the privileged adults mentioned above.
  • EUR 880 in the case of non-employment and if the child is still a minor.
  • 1300 euros if the child is of legal age, regardless of whether the parent is employed or not.

If these minimum limits – after deduction of child support – are not reached, the child support to be paid for the parent who is responsible for support is reduced accordingly.

Under special circumstances, such as high rental costs that alone exceed the stated deductible limits, the deductible limit is raised. The parent responsible for maintenance can therefore claim a higher deductible. However, he must prove that the rental costs cannot be reduced. The deductible can also increase if the parent with whom the child lives has at least 50 percent more income than the person responsible for maintenance.

In rare cases, the deductible can also be reduced, for example by living with a new partner. Under certain circumstances, the income of the new partner can also be used as a basis for calculation.

Minimum child support limits

Depending on the income situation of the parent who is responsible for maintenance, it can happen that after deducting the deductible, only a very small amount is left for child maintenance. In order to ensure a minimum subsistence level for underage children, there has been a minimum subsistence allowance since 2008, which is broken down into three levels:

• Level 1 (0 – 6 years): currently 354 euros
• Level 2 (7 – 12 years): currently 406 euros
• Level 3 (13 – 18 years): currently 476 euros

When does the obligation to pay child support end?

Child support can be sued if it was willfully not paid. In principle, a parent who is obliged to provide maintenance must do everything reasonable to be able to pay for the child maintenance. This is especially true for underage children. This is referred to as the “tightened obligation to work”. It means that a dependent parent must work at full capacity to provide support for the child.

What is considered reasonable?

In the past, southern German courts in particular have ordered fathers with too little income to take on a part-time job. In the meantime, however, there are also limits to the stricter obligation to work, for example, excessive working and travel times, state of health and weekend work are taken into account. The limit of reasonableness cannot be set in general terms, it is rather decided on a case-by-case basis.

If it can be proven that it is not possible to pay the child support, there is the possibility of receiving the child support from the maintenance advance fund or the social welfare office as an alternative. However, this option is only available for children up to 12 years of age.

Overall, the issue of child support is not a problem for most parents. The majority are happy to take responsibility for their own child. Only the part to be paid has to be clarified – on the basis of legal regulations or from parent to parent.

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