Chapter of the article:
What is The Maintenance Obligation?
The term maintenance (in general) is not directly defined by the law. It can be deduced from legal regulations that maintenance means the support and payment of reasonable needs between persons who have some type of family relationship. Unless a circumstance excludes it, the creation of a savings is also meant as maintenance.
The Family Act therefore defines the maintenance obligation to include the wider meaning of not only a dependent’s personal maintenance, but also the support of additional necessary needs, such as cultural, sports, etc., and not just food, clothing and housing.
Who is Required to Pay Child Support?
Every parent has the legal obligation to provide for his or her children who are unable to support themselves. Most often we encounter the determination of child support for a parent who does not have a child entrusted to their care, (that is, who does not have custody of the child). The parent to whom the child has been entrusted (the parent who has custody) often replaces part of their child support support obligation with personal care of the child.
What is The Amount of The Child Support obligation?
There are basically two options. In the first option, the amount of child support can be determined by an agreement between the parents. In such cases, even when there is clear agreement, we still recommend that you have a written agreement with official verification. If no agreement is reached, the second option is to establish the amount and terms of the child support obligation in court.
There are several criteria according to which the court will determine the amount of child support:
- the living standards of each parent
- the reasonable needs of the child
- the financial status of the parents (their income, expenses, ownership of movable and immovable property)
- who provides the child care
However, the final amount of child support is always determined by a judge. In order to make the decision-making as fair as possible, the Ministry of Justice has produced a table for child support. This table determines the percentage of a parents’ income that should belong to the child. It will help you to get an idea of the approximate amount of child support due, before the court proceedings begin.
|The age of the child
|Amount of child support as a % of the parent’s net salary
|18 years and older
It is important to mention that the table is only a recommendation, and thus represents only one criteria for the judge. The court always decides about the amount of child support individually by case.
What Needs to be Proven in Court to Determine The Amount of The Child Support?
In the case of determining the amount of child support due, the court always considers the child’s reasonable needs, as well as the abilities, opportunities and property of his or her parents. The court may therefore ask both sides to present evidence on these matters. The parent who has the child entrusted to their care usually submits a confirmation of study, a confirmation of school fees, evidence of necessary medication, the cost of housing, etc.
For the other parent, it is important to provide proof of income. Many parents try to avoid this. However, the court will examine whether the parent intentionally accepted lower paid work, whether they took unreasonable property risks just to avoid paying child support, or whether they gave up addtional income, etc.
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When to Request an Increase in Child Support?
You can request for an increase on the child support when the situation in the family changes. An increase in child support is most often requested in the following situations:
- The child enters kindergarten, primary or secondary school.
- The child changes extracurricular leisure activities to some which include higher financial expenses. The important thing is that the other parent should agree with these changes.
- A child’s medical condition changes to include a chronic illness or a disability which requires more care and resources.
- On the part of the parent, there is a change in financial status.
Note: Child support can be increased retroactively for up to 3 years from the date of the initiation of the proceedings.
When Does Child Support End?
Unlike in the USA for example, child support obligations are not fixed by the age of the child. Generally, child support is paid until the child’s studies are completed; thus until the child is able to support himself / herself, which is most typically around age of 26 in the Czech Republic.
However, there are exceptions. For example, if the child is still studying at the age of 30, we can dispute about whether he or she is actually able to support themselves, and therefore whether the court may approve a request for cancellation of the child support obligation. The child support obligation also ends with the child´s marriage.
To Whom is Child Support Paid?
If you have a child support obligation towards a minor child, it is paid to the person who has the child entrusted to their care, (along with alimony, for example). In the case of adult children, child support is paid directly to them, unless otherwise is stated in the judgment.
Note: Keep in mind that you are obligated to pay child support even in cases where the offspring reaches the age of 18 and does not have the status of a student. In such cases, it is necessary to file a Complaint for Modification to the court in order to cancel the child support order.
What to Do in Cases Where The Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support?
In order to recover unpaid child support from a parent, you will need a so-called execution title, which in this case is a final judgment.
When recovering child support in this way, you will communicate with the executor, who after sending the records will issue an execution order and decide how the debt will be recovered. The executor can, for example: seize the bank accounts of the non-paying parent; allow the child support to be deducted from their salary; sell their belongings; even confiscate their driver’s license, (except in the case of professional drivers).
A second option is to file a complaint for non-support. Nonpayment of child support for more than 4 months can be a crime that results in up to 3 years in prison, which applies in situations where the lack of legal financial support places the child in danger of extreme hardship.
There are No Exceptions for Incomplete or Intermittant Support
You can also file a complaint in such cases where child support is not paid regularly, completely, or on time.
It happens often that an obligated parent will send partial payments intermittantly, with the intention of avoiding the law. However, the Criminal Code does not make exceptions for this. In order to avoid criminal prosecution, there would have to be so-called effective regret. This means they would have to pay the child support debt in full, before the court convicts them.
What About Child Support for Children in Joint Custody?
For a child in joint custody, payment of child support is usually provided by both parents. If the parents have similar incomes and the care of the child is equal for both parents, the court will most often set the same amount of child support for both parents. In cases where the income of one of the parents is higher, or care of the child is unequally distributed, the court determines the child support order as with cases of solo custody.