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Having more kids not a reason to reduce existing child maintenance obligations in Spain

The Spanish Supreme court has clarified the law concerning a parent’s financial responsibilities if they go on to have more children with a different partner.

The issue has previously been discussed on numerous occasions by the lower courts with some deciding that merely having children in a subsequent relationship, although increasing bills, did not affect the amount of child maintenance they were required to pay for the support of their children with a previous partner. However, other courts decided that new financial burdens brought about by the parent having more children would automatically have the effect of lowering the amount of child support they paid to their previous partner.

Insufficient Financial Capacity

In it’s decision, the Supreme Court stated that “the birth of a new child is not sufficient by itself to reduce the level of child maintenance due to children from a previous relationship, but rather the Court must determine whether the financial capacity of that parent is definitely insufficient to meet the obligations arising from the existing children as well as those presented by the birth of more children later on, not forgetting their own personal needs.

The Supreme Court went on to say that accordingly it falls to be decided whether the economic resources of that parent should be redistributed, without compromising the needs of any of the children, by taking into account not just their own economic situation but those also that of the other parent who also has an economic responsibility towards the children. It could even be the case, the Court said in it’s decision, that the economic situation of the parent actually improved instead of deteriorated,  depending on the economic circumstances of the other parent.

In the particular case before the Supreme Court, a father of two children aged 13 and 17 from a previous relationship, who later went on to have two more children in a different relationship had requested the reduction of the child support payment that had been set at 400€ per child, as well as payment of the mortgage of the family home.

Intention to have more children irrelevant

The Court agreed with the High Court decision to reject the request, but on different grounds. While the High Court rejected any reduction of the child support payments on the basis that the new financial obligations had been voluntarily assumed by the appellant, the Supreme Court did so on the basis that the argument that the economic capacity of the appellant had been diminished as a result of having more children had not been proved, since the economic capacity of the other parent had not even been considered.

It therefore follows that the existence of children from a subsequent relationship may result in the financial contribution to the support of children from an earlier relationship being reduced where it can be demonstrated that the economic capacity of that parent has been reduced, regard being had to the economic capacity of the other parent.

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Following a split between the parents of a child, whether by divorce or not, an agreement must be drafted to detail any financial responsibilities held by the non-custodial parent.

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