Child support, also called child maintenance, covers the full scope of a child’s needs, while taking into account the parent’s financial situation.
Who pays child support?
While it holds true that in most cases, it’s the father who pays child maintenance (a view further supported by the media), the law speaks of the parents’ obligation to provide for their children; at times, this may extend to grandparents or even other relatives.
Child support is generally paid by the parent with whom the child spends less or no time. In some cases, as with shared custody, the court may order both or neither parent to pay child maintenance.
If both parents are ordered to pay child support, then it’s absolutely necessary for both of them to fulfil this obligation, as the failure to do so would lead to a so-called claim set-off. Although it would be common sense for the parent whose child support is higher to only pay the difference between both amounts to the parent who has been ordered to pay less, such simplification is unacceptable for legal reasons and might, taken to the extreme, result in prosecution or distraint.
Who is entitled to child maintenance?
In general, any child who is unable to provide for themselves is entitled to maintenance. This condition isn’t limited by age (18 or 26), as some parents might expect. In some exceptional cases, the obligation to pay child support may last for a lifetime – for example, with severely disabled children. The child support is paid into the hands of the other parent until the child reaches legal capacity (usually until age 18); it’s then paid directly to the child.
Tip: We’ve also written about child support in our article on child maintenance for adult children.
Make sure your child gets everything to which they’re entitled
Does the other parent claim that they can’t afford to pay but minimal child support? Or do they refuse to pay at all? Leave it up to us. We’ll help you get the highest child support possible, so that you don’t have to scrape along.
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Must child support be court-ordered?
Ideally, both parents will come to an agreement regarding the child maintenance. However, if they aren’t able to, it’s the court that must decide.
Tip: A number of other questions are answered in detail in this Child Support FAQ
Do child maintenance tables exist?
Determining a particular child support amount isn’t as simple as entering a few parameters into a chart to produce a number. In spite of this, many child support guideline calculation tables can be found on the Internet. The number they provide can differ from the actual amount a court orders; it may, however, serve as an indication to a parent pondering about how much to which their child is entitled. Besides the objective reasons (the parents’ income and the child’s needs), the parents’ views on how much should be expended are taken into account. Generally, child maintenance should cover, or at least strive to cover, the child’s expenses in the same fashion as if both parents lived as a family.
Among others, the Department of Justice has also published a pdf guideline table aiming to determine the range of child support.
|Age of the child
||Amount of maintenance in % of net wages
|18 years and over
The right column determines how many percent of a parent’s net salary should go to their child at a certain age. The Czech legal system isn’t based on the so-called child support objectification; quite to the contrary, the amount of child maintenance is determined individually for each case.
What other factors do judges consider?
When determining the amount of child maintenance, the court takes into account the following factors:
- The amount of time each parent spends with their child – numerous models of child care exist: Sole custody, shared custody with equal shares of time spent with the child, or variants with, for instance, 40 % versus 60 % of time, to name but several. However, even sole custody can allow for frequent visitations of the other parent and for sharing both regular and extra expenses for the child. In a similar fashion, parents caring for their child in shared custody may spend unequal amounts of time with them. In other cases, a substantial difference in the parents’ income may play a significant role, should the child experience an entirely different living standard with each parent. Thus, the judge strives to determine the financial situation of each family. Finally, let’s mention one last factor: The parent who spends more time with the child usually provides an equivalent of the child support by such care.
- Parents’ income from employment or business (or from pension or allowance) – both parents’ incomes are examined, drawing upon, e.g., their payrolls or tax returns. If a parent fails to state their income, the court will suppose that their average monthly income equals 25 times the living wage of an individual.
- Another important factor is examining the options and capabilities of both parents, i.e., what income they can reach with respect to their qualification, health, physical shape, place of residence, etc. This is to prevent a healthy, educated parent living in a locality with low unemployment from being on unemployment allowance and stating that they can’t afford to support their child due to low income. Also, if a parent suddenly quit a well-paid job for no apparent reason or transferred their property to a third person, the situation would be dealt with accordingly. And on the other hand, as long as fulfilling their child support obligation is completely out of reach of a parent for objective reasons, the court needn’t order it at all.
- Property and living standard – these overlap with income to an extent; here, however, the court examines the ownership of real estate (and the eventual income from it), stock or luxury cars. The property of the child ought to be examined as well. As long as the child owns only property insufficient to cover their expenses, the child support continues.
- Other children and their maintenance – during the divorce suit or divorce settlement, the interests of the particular child are considered. However, other children whom a parent must also support need to be taken into account as well, e.g., the children in their new family.
- Legitimate needs of the child – here, determining the amount is somewhat general and based on the previously-mentioned guideline tables that show what percentage of a parent’s income should belong to the child at a certain age. In addition, the individual child’s needs are considered – state of health is crucial, but free-time activities play a role as well.
- New partner’s income and financial situation – By new partner, we mean a parent’s new partner living in the same household with them. Although the new partner has no child support obligation to a child from a previous family, they may significantly influence the current family’s financial situation, which the court takes into account as well.
- The way the parents bear other expenses connected with the child – for instance, whether the clubs or clothes are always paid by one of the parents or whether they bear the costs jointly. Both variants may occur regardless of the official care schedule.
- Necessary expenses of the parents, e.g., health care, living costs, etc.
- The child’ age – each age brings with it different needs and interests; as it increases, so do the costs.
Numerous child maintenance tables based only on two factors, the child’s age and the income of the parent paying the child support, can be found on the Internet. As demonstrated, however, the matter is far from simple. A skilled solicitor will be able to identify and emphasize exactly the right arguments in your favour, resulting in higher child support for your offspring. We therefore advise consulting your situation with a professional instead of relying on general charts from the Internet.
Let’s elaborate with two situations that seem identical in a chart but vary significantly in reality.
The father of Johnny, aged 12, earns 60,000 net a month. He’s supposed to spend two weekends per month with his son, however, “something comes up” frequently, and he often cancels the weekend. Johnny’s mother, who has a serious medical condition and lives on a disability allowance with a limited possibility of earning some income, pays for all his clubs and the equipment he needs for them, while spending a portion of her income on medicaments that prevent her condition from worsening.
Little Betty is also 12, and her father earns the same 60,000 net a month. Betty spends about two-thirds of her time with her mother and roughly a third with her father, who arranges and pays for his daughter’s clubs together with her mother. He supports mainly her sports activities and pays for the costly tennis equipment and lessons. He spends time with Betty and drives her to every tennis match outside of town despite having two minor children with his new partner. Betty’s mother earns her living by doing voice-overs, lives with her daughter and a new boyfriend in a large house and supports her daughter’s cultural events – they go to concerts and drama performances.
Even without a vast legal knowledge, it’s apparent that the child support will differ significantly in these cases. However, the online child support tables would evaluate them in the same way.
By no means do we aim to disparage “child support calculators.” We merely warn that it’s necessary to separate them from other web calculators that will, e.g., compute your net salary or a tax. With child maintenance, we only obtain a rough basis upon which we can build the complicated network of further decisions.