Both parents have a duty to provide for their child until that child has completed their education or vocational training. A parent who lives with a child who is either under the age of 18 or still attending school provides for their child by caring for that child and is not obliged to provide for the child financially. Conversely, the parent who no longer lives with the child is obliged to provide for the child financially, even where the parents have joint custody of the child.
Where a child’s parents are not married, entitlement to maintenance requires either that the child's father has acknowledged paternity or that the identity of the child’s father has been determined by other means. If you wish to assert your entitlement to maintenance or establish paternity, it can often be helpful to obtain support and legal representation (‘freiwillige Beistandschaft’) from the Jugendamt.
The amount of maintenance to be paid depends on the income of the parent who is required to pay maintenance and the age of the child. Maintenance payments are calculated on the basis of a table of legally defined minimum maintenance amounts. If a maintenance entitlement cannot be asserted simply and amicably, legal proceedings will need to be taken to obtain a legal ruling on the amount of maintenance due. People on low incomes can apply for legal aid (Verfahrenskostenhilfe) to cover lawyer’s fees and court costs.
If a parent who is required to make maintenance payments fails to do so or fails to make payment in full, parents can apply to the Jugendamt for a maintenance advance (Unterhaltsvorschuss). In general, maintenance advance will be paid until the child for whom it is paid reaches the age of 12 years. Maintenance advance can continue to be paid until a child is 18 years old if the recipient does not get benefits pursuant to SGB II or, if the single parent is in receipt of benefits pursuant to SGB II, but is earning at least € 600 per month.
The maintenance advance rate is € 177 per month for children up to the age of 6 years and € 236 per month for children aged from 6 to 11 years. The rate for children between the ages of 12 and 18 years is € 314 per month.
The maintenance advance rate corresponds to the statutory minimum maintenance set out in the Düsseldorf table minus the amount of Kindergeld payable for a first child. Maintenance advance payments will be reclaimed from the parent who is obliged to make maintenance payments.
Maintenance payments and maintenance advances are offset in full against any social welfare entitlement accruing to the child.
If you were married and the child/children live with you following separation or divorce, under certain circumstances you may be entitled to spousal support (Ehegattenunterhalt). Unmarried mothers and fathers who are unable to work because they are caring for a child are entitled to ‘childcare support’ (Betreuungsunterhalt) from the other parent until the child reaches the age of 3 years. This is usually determined by a lawyer if the separated parents cannot mutually agree on this.
Your best point of contact for questions relating to child support is:
Amt für Kinder, Jugendliche und Familien
Tel: 0251/492-0 (central office)
The Düsseldorf table sets out the amount of maintenance a child is entitled to depending on the income of the parent responsible for paying maintenance. The table below is correct as of January 2023.
- Maintenance for a dependent child no longer living with a parent (e.g. students) is generally € 930per month.
- Maintenance for children who are 18 years old or older and are still living with a parent or parents is shown in the fourth column of the above table.
- The parent who is required to make maintenance payments is entitled to deduct a proportion of the Kindergeld from these payments. (Half for children under 18 years, the full amount for children aged 18 years or older.)
Payment amounts for salary levels
Since the child benefit will be € 250 for all children from January 2023, the maintenance claim will be the same for every child from now on. The staggering of the amounts from the 3rd child is therefore no longer applicable.