In Spain, a divorce does not in any way reduce the responsibilities – financial or otherwise – that a parent has towards their child.
When dealing with the topic of child support and parental responsibility the concept of ‘child maintenance’ (‘la pensión alimenticia’ in Spanish) covers that which is necessary for the sustenance, housing, education, clothing and medical provision of their children.
This responsibility does not disappear upon the child reaching the age of 18 but it does change in the sense that:
- The right to maintenance is no longer unconditional
- For the right to continue proof of a continuing need is required
- The amount may reduce to a minimum
- There is no longer a preference over other relatives
Indeed the maintenance payments will continue indefinitely if a child is unable to otherwise survive economically or if their education has not been completed or if they are unable to find a job through no fault of their own.
The payments are normally a fixed cash amount paid monthly and the amount to pay depends on the following criteria:
- The child’s needs
- The economic resources of the parent
- The economic resources of the other parent
Although both parents are liable economically for their children, typically it is the non-custodial parent that pays child maintenance unless there is shared custody whereupon a joint fund is normally established into which both parents pay and withdraw when they have custody of the children.