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Maintenance for adult children

What about child support when your child has turned 18? And what do you have to count on as an adult child if your parent avoids paying child support?

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What is nutritious?

Alimony, or child support, is not directly defined by law, but it is commonly understood to mean the regular payments that parents make to their children when they are not directly physically caring for them, for example, if they do not have custody of them after a divorce. Every parent is legally obliged to support his or her child, i.e. to provide him or her with housing, food, clothing, medicine, school fees, in short, all the basic needs, and depending on the parent’s abilities and financial circumstances and his or her standard of living, maintenance also includes payment for various clubs, trips, culture, sports, holidays, or even savings.

Maintenance is either agreed or determined by the court

If the minor child’s parents were married, then alimony is usually settled with the divorce. Before the divorce, there must be a trial for the minor children. There, the court will either approve the parents’ agreement or make its own decision. It depends on who has custody of the child, the financial circumstances of both parents and the needs of the child. In a situation where the parents have not been married, there does not need to be any written agreement or court decision; the parents simply agree verbally. It is only when the agreement does not work that it is necessary to go to court, which makes a decision similar to that in the case of divorce.

From the age of 18, you are on your own in court

Once a child has reached the age of majority (and is fully competent), he or she also acquires so-called legal capacity and acts for himself or herself in court proceedings. So if the child and the parent do not reach an amicable agreement, the child must file a petition with the court to have the court award child support. This is one of the main differences from the situation where a minor child applies for maintenance. A minor child is represented in court by a guardian and maintenance is usually sought by the parent who has custody of the child. This parent is then also paid maintenance for the child, so-called “at his/her hands”. Once the child is of age, he or she receives maintenance on his or her own account.

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Tip: At the end of 2022, the Ministry of Justice introduced a new table and method for calculating child maintenance from 2023. In this context, some of the principles for calculating maintenance have also been slightly modified. What principles do judges now base their child support determinations on? This is the focus of our article.

Until when is adult child support paid?

Some parents think that they have to pay child support until they are 18, or until they graduate from high school, college, etc. In reality, there is no hard limit. It always depends on the individual case. Nowadays, most children find it difficult to become independent immediately after reaching the age of majority and to be independent of their parents’ support, both psychologically and, above all, financially. After leaving secondary school, many young people go on to study at university or otherwise prepare for their future careers.

A parent has to take care of their child until the child is able to support themselves. This is usually while they are studying, even at university. On the other hand, if the child studies too long, or changes schools, and is not meaningfully preparing for a career, the parent will not be obligated to continue to support the child.

However, in cases where, for example, the child is severely physically or mentally handicapped and will never be able to support himself, the maintenance obligation of his parents or other close relatives continues for life.

Even if the adult child meets the above conditions, if he or she is married (i.e., is married), he or she is an exception to the award of maintenance by the parents and the maintenance obligation of the spouse now kicks in. This obligation takes precedence over the parents’ obligation to pay maintenance.

Alimony may not always be provided continuously, for example, if the adult child does not continue his or her college education immediately after high school. In such a case, there is no entitlement to maintenance for the duration of this “hindrance”. Similarly, we can talk about the so-called elasticity of maintenance when a fully self-sufficient child suffers an accident or other situation that prevents him from being able to support himself.

What is proved in court?

The child’s reasonable needs and means, as well as the parent’s abilities, possibilities and means, are decisive for determining the extent of maintenance. All this is examined in court and the court has the right to ask both parties to produce evidence. So the child usually presents a certificate of education, a certificate of tuition fees, the medicines he or she needs, the cost of living, etc. Above all, the parent has to prove his or her income. The court also examines whether the parent has taken a lower-paid job on purpose, or whether he or she is taking unreasonable financial risks to avoid paying child support. At the same time, the court is also interested in how the parent takes care of the child (even if an adult) and how he or she takes care of the family household.

Please note: It is important to remember that the study certificate is not just about actually enrolling in a particular secondary school or college, getting a study certificate valid for the whole academic year and relying on your parents to take care of everything else.

Application for maintenance three years back

Alimony is usually paid monthly, one month in advance, unless the parent and the offspring agree otherwise. If the parent does not pay, or pays late, the child can also claim interest on the arrears. When the whole thing goes to court, for example as a petition for an increase in child support, the child can ask for an increase up to 3 years before the petition was filed.

What if the child is mistreating the parent?

Those cases happen too. For example, the child absolutely refuses to have contact with one parent, does not respond to the parent’s phone calls and texts, etc. The parent then logically asks if he or she has to pay for the child, even though the parent actually refuses the child and does not want to have any relationship with the child. The courts agree that this cannot be taken into account in relation to child support for younger children, as they can often be “induced” by the custodial parent and the child does not fully understand. However, from about the age of 15 onwards, the courts take this into account, and even more so for adult children.

In such cases, the court considers the behaviour of the adult from a global perspective, not just from the perspective of the parent alone, when deciding whether to award maintenance. This means that what may seem to one person to be conduct consistent with good morals may be judged otherwise by others. The parent’s previous behaviour and upbringing are also taken into account at any given time, i.e. whether the offspring’s current behaviour is, in a manner of speaking, not his or her own fault.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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