Chapters of the article
Principles of the new legislation
The previous recommendation table for calculating child maintenance no longer corresponded to current court practice, as it did not take into account essential aspects. A new table has therefore been drawn up. However, the table is still only of a recommendatory nature and other aspects which were not reflected in the table must be taken into account when determining maintenance.
The original age categories have been abolished and the child’s life stages, i.e. pre-school, stage 1 or stage 2, have been chosen anew. In addition, the total number of maintenance obligations, i.e. how many children a parent is supporting and the extent of their care, is taken into account. A new lower limit, i.e. how much the obliged (paying) parent should be left with, appears in the tables. Depending on the number of dependent children and their age, maintenance can amount to approximately 20 per cent of the parent’s net income.
However, no tables can capture all aspects of life and its differences. What remains basic is both parents’ financial circumstances and their abilities and possibilities and, of course, the (specific) needs of the child.
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It is not the case that if a parent has a very low income, even though he or she might have a higher income, maintenance will automatically be assessed on that very low income. In the case of minor children, the court may base its decision on the so-called potentiality of the parent.
Thus, maintenance is still not a mere mathematical operation, but it is necessary to ascertain in detail the parents’ financial circumstances, not just their income from employment or business. To take this to the extreme: if a parent owns, for example, several properties, several cars and valuables worth tens of millions of crowns, and is employed by a friend and receives a net salary of 20,000 crowns, the other parent need not worry that he or she would only be entitled to maintenance of 2-4,000 crowns. The real maintenance will probably be considerably higher.
Get your child what he or she is entitled to
Is the other parent claiming to have no money and offering you minimum maintenance, or is he or she avoiding his or her maintenance obligation altogether? You can leave it to us. We can help you secure the highest possible child support so you don’t have to live on the breadline.
Determination of a specific percentage of maintenance
A new feature of the table is the setting of a specific percentage of maintenance, instead of the previous “from-to”, i.e. for example from 15 to 19% of income. The table now has one recommended percentage of a parent’s net pay.
Split into four life stages
The new step is to place the child in one of the four life stages defined by the table. These are pre-school age, first and second years of primary school and secondary school and further studies. The older the child is, the higher the percentage amount due.
Taking into account other maintenance obligations
The courts always take into account the other maintenance obligations of the parent when determining maintenance. Until now, however, they have not had specific guidance in the table. Now the percentages decrease with each additional child (i.e. additional support obligation). For example, child maintenance for a pre-school child should be about 14% of net pay, but if a parent has two children then the amount is reduced to 12%.
Use for standard cases
In commenting on the new table,the Ministry of Justice stressed that it does not cover any exceptional circumstances. If a family is faced with some non-standard situation, the values in the table should not be taken dogmatically but flexibly adjusted. On the one hand, we can imagine, for example, a serious illness of a dependent child which requires higher costs and, on the other hand, reduced earning potential for the caring parent. On the other hand, the presence of a new, solvent boyfriend or girlfriend who increases the family’s standard of living may be taken into account. Housing and energy costs are also very topical at the moment and can vary from family to family by tens of thousands of crowns in extreme cases. The various circumstances that may affect the final calculation of child support can be found in the Manual for Working with the Recommended Table for Determining Child Support, prepared by the Ministry of Justice.
Taking into account the number of days the child is cared for
The amount of child support is also related to the number of days the other parent cares for the child. For example, if it is 25 days a month, the maintenance will be significantly higher than if it is split in half. Some parents mistakenly believe that maintenance cannot be awarded in the latter case, but it all depends on the parents’ income and how they pay for the child. If one of the parents has a net salary of CZK 40 000 and the other of CZK 240 000, the primary assumption is that a similar standard of living is to be ensured for both parents and therefore the parent with the lower income is entitled to maintenance.
In our practice, on the other hand, we have encountered a situation where, although the parents in alternating care were both earning approximately CZK 70,000 net, they took turns to care for the child in a shared apartment (i.e. they always moved and not the child, who had a stable home). The arrangement was that the mother provided most of the household expenses, buying clothes for the child and school supplies. In such a case, she was also entitled to some child support even with a similar income and level of care for the child.
The control amount remaining to the parent
The table also includes a special line that thinks of the paying parent. It leaves the so-called control amount, i.e. a certain amount of money that should be left after the payment of maintenance. It is necessary to compare the amount resulting from the sum of the maintenance obligations with the amount set as the control amount. The amount which is more favourable to the payer will then apply. Therefore, if the maintenance provisionally fixed exceeds the control amount, then a reduction should be considered. Such a situation may typically arise in the case of multiple maintenance obligations.
Judges and parents now have a nice tool to help them figure out a guideline amount of child support. It is still true, however, that our legal system is not based on the so-called objectification of child support, but child support is always determined after an individual assessment of the case. In principle, it is still the case that maintenance should provide or at least approximate financially a similar situation to that which would exist in a functional family.
As an example, we can take two situations which are identical in table terms but diametrically opposed in real life.
The father of fourteen-year-old Samuel earns fifty thousand net. He sees him every Sunday of the week. But Sam has no nursery, no equipment and no clothes. Everything is provided by Sam’s mother, who has now lost her job through no fault of her own. Samuel is seriously ill and his mother has to devote much of her time to looking after him, visiting doctors, hospitals and rehabilitation.
The father of fourteen-year-old Emmi also has a monthly income of fifty thousand net. The care is divided approximately so that about ⅔ of the time with Emma is spent by her mother and a third by her father. The mother is a lawyer and earns more than the father. In addition, she is now living with a new boyfriend who is a doctor and contributes a reasonable amount to the running of her new family. Emmička’s father drives her out of town for horseback riding lessons, which he also pays for. Emma has her own facilities with him, including a computer and clothes.
Even without legal training and detailed knowledge of the law and case law, it is obvious at first glance that child support in the two cases will be set at different amounts, although simple internet spreadsheets would judge the cases identical.