Child Support In Spain

Child support in Spain has many complexities: learn about the rights/responsibilities of parents relating to the matter of child support.

Child support in Spain

Payments of an Indefinite Nature

In Spain, a divorce does not in any way reduce the responsibilities – financial or otherwise – that a parent has towards their child. In fact, child support in Spain has been growing important in Family Law: worth being aware.

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.

Calculating Maintenance Payments

The law does not specify an amount that must be paid and the parents may decide between themselves as to how much maintenance ought to be paid.

However, such an agreement may be revised by the court which will take into consideration the income and expenses of each of the spouses so that proportionality may be applied. If necessary, the court – either at the instance of the judge or of the ‘Ministerio Fiscal’ (the latter is a legal officer of the court always present where children are involved in a divorce case).

Furthermore, should the circumstances of either parent change then any agreement or court order may be revisited such that the amount payable by the parent is increased or decreased accordingly. The maintenance sum will also vary according to the IPC or inflation rate.

Extraordinary Payments

It should be noted that the concept of ‘child support’ or ‘child maintenance’ does not cover such things as extraordinary bills. These may be such bills that arise without warning such as healthcare required by the child that is not covered by social security.

Accordingly it is typical for the amount that both parents should pay (half each or a percentage) in those circumstances to be fixed in the divorce agreement.

However, it should be borne in mind always that the concept of freedom to contract is a cornerstone of Spanish law and the parties may always assume whatever responsibilities they wish with regard to payment of the costs and taxes associated with the transfer of property in Spain.

Orientative Figures

The law in Spain does not establish a fixed quantity for maintenance payments in respect of children following a divorce.

Below is a table that may help to give an idea as to how much a court will typically award, based on the income of a non-custodial parent, though discretion lies with the judge in each case.

The Income figure in the first column relates to the income of the non-custodial parent while the figures in the remaining columns are the typical maintenance sums calculated, depending on the number of children.

Child Support In Spain - Table with main figures

 

The General Council of the Judiciary in Spain released guidelines in 2013 on the amount of child maintenance that parents should pay in cases where the family unit is split-up. While merely indicative and provided to assist judges when determining the quantity of child support required, it is expected that the new guidelines will be extensively used by Family Courts across Spain to establish the amount of any pensión alimenticia or child maintenance that the court will order to be paid following a divorce or separation.

The guidelines were developed in conjunction with the Institute of National Statistics and involved compiling figures with regard to average spending and income of parents with dependent children, in order to determine the financial cost of supporting dependent children.

Furthermore, complex adjustments are made according to whether there are two or more dependent children, the region in which the children live and the size of the town or city in which they live since these impact on the costs involved.

 

Guideline Figures

Bear in mind the following when viewing the tables:

Tables 1.1 – 1.2: The below figures denote the estimated costs per child in situations where the custody of the children is shared between both parents. The judge should then apportion responsibility for payment of the relevant amount between the parents according to the circumstances of the case. The costs do not included the bills associated with a mortgage or renting of the principal residence, nor was the amount spent on education included. Responsibility for payment of these additional costs would need to be applied and distributed between the parents, again according to the circumstances of the case.

 

Table 1.1 – Costs of bringing-up one child – shared custody

Child support Spain Table 1.1 - Costs of bringing-up one child - shared custody

 

 

 

 

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Table 1.2 – Costs of bringing-up two children (shared custody)

Child support Spain Table 1.2 - Costs of bringing-up 2 children - shared custody

 

 

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Tables 2.1 – 2.3

The below figures refer to those situations in which the custody of the children has been awarded to one of the parents only, with access awarded to the non-custodial parent. The amounts that appear in this case refer to the amount that the non-custodial parent should pay towards the maintenance of the children. Should the needs of the children to be housed be satisfied by the fact that the use and enjoyment of the family home has been attributed to the parent with custody, then the only amount that should be added to the maintenance amount contained in this table is that relating to the educational costs of the children.

Table 2.1 – Suggested child support payment for bringing-up one child (single-parent custody – no housing and education)

Table 2.2 – Suggested child support for bringing-up two children (single-parent custody – no housing or education)

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