Maintenance - who pays it, how much, to whom and for how long?

Maintenance - who pays it, how much, to whom and for how long? If parents live together, their children are usually able to achieve the same standard of living as their parents. This is one of the reasons why maintenance is imposed on parents. The child's standard of living should be maintained at the same level after the parents separate as it would have been if the parents had not separated.

Does the court have to set maintenance by judgment or can the parents agree?

For detailed information on judicial and non-judicial solutions to the regulation of the relationship between parents and children, which generally includes the regulation of maintenance, see this sectioni.

The amount to be paid by a parent for child maintenance does not have to be determined by a judgment; the law presumes that the parents will pay maintenance voluntarily or in some other way contribute to the child's care, starting from the child's birth.

However, often a court order is necessary (e.g. for divorce or for the enforcement of maintenance).

What determines the amount of maintenance?

The court or the parents themselves should consider the needs of the child and the parents' abilities, possibilities and financial circumstances when deciding on the amount of maintenance. The method of calculating the amount of maintenance may vary abroad, and will usually depend on the national law of the country where maintenance is decided.

Under Czech law, the amount of maintenance is determined according to:
  • the share of personal care of the child (i.e. how much time each parent actually takes care of the child)
  • the parents' net income from employment, business, pensions or social benefits
  • the parents' standard of living - the parents' assets (financial resources, real estate, cars...) or the use of the resources of the company within which the parents run their business for their own use
  • the income and economic situation of the parents' new partners if they share a household and manage the household together
  • other maintenance obligations of the parents
  • the parents' necessary expenses, e.g. health care, housing, etc.
  • the way in which the parent contributes to the child's other costs (extra expenses, savings, payments for clubs, purchase of equipment, etc.)
  • the recommendation tables of the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic

What about gifts and pocket money?

If the maintenance obligation is already established, then it cannot be artificially reduced by buying gifts for the child, paying pocket money or otherwise improving what the parent provides for the child. The court can reflect these extra payments when setting child support, but it cannot reduce the monthly payments.

Maintenance and custody arrangements (alternate, sole, joint)

The amount of maintenance is mainly influenced by the share of personal care of the child and the amount of income of the parents. Does it therefore have an impact whether sole custody, alternate custody or joint custody is decided for one parent?

Exclusive custody of one parent may mean that the other parent is not involved in the child's life at all and spends time with the child only during holidays, for example ("only" paying maintenance). At other times, sole custody may mean that the parent who does not have custody of the child visits the child regularly, contributes to extraordinary expenses and spends about 8 days a month with the child, providing the child with facilities, meals and all personal care. Thus, the amount that should be paid in child support will vary.

Neither shared care nor joint custody precludes the establishment of a maintenance obligation. This is because the parents may not share equally in the personal care of the child or their incomes are so different that the child's standard of living would be markedly different when the mother is caring for the child and when the father is caring for the child. The court may order the parents to pay maintenance to each other.

Who is the beneficiary of maintenance and to whom to pay?

Under Czech law, the person entitled to maintenance is the child himself, not his parent, to whom maintenance is usually paid. Other countries may have different regulations in this respect (the parent to whom the maintenance is paid is usually the beneficiary).

Maintenance is paid to the other parent until the child becomes fully capable of paying it (usually until the age of 18), after which it is paid directly to the child. If the child is placed in foster care, the maintenance is paid to the State (the maintenance is collected by the Labour Office of the Czech Republic).

Maintenance is usually paid in monthly instalments; the court may order the obliged parent to pay a lump sum from which the monthly maintenance is then drawn, or to pay part of it directly to the child (to the other parent) and to save part for the child.

The child, as the person entitled, may apply to the court for a modification of maintenance (fixing, increasing, decreasing or abolishing) once he or she has acquired full legal capacity.

Length of maintenance obligation and its termination

Parents are obliged to support their children until they are able to support themselves. If the child is preparing for a future profession (full-time student), the maintenance obligation continues in principle until the child reaches the age of 26. If the child is ill or disabled, the maintenance obligation may continue after the age of 26.

To prove the continuation of the maintenance obligation, a certificate of studies or information on the child's state of health must be provided.

The obliged parent may apply to the court for the cancellation of the maintenance obligation if he/she considers that the maintenance obligation no longer exists or if he/she is objectively unable to pay the maintenance (e.g. he/she is himself/herself disabled or indigent).

If the child marries or remarries, the maintenance obligation passes to his/her partner.

In enforcement with a cross-border element, the substantive law under which maintenance was decided must always be followed. The same law then governs when the maintenance obligation is terminated.