Divorce and finance can be difficult matters, especially when dependant children are involved. The most important thing to consider when divorcing with children in Spain is how child support is calculated.
Calculating Child Maintenance
Child maintenance is calculated as a living cost and does not include extraordinary expenses such as presents, holidays, extra school activities or medical assistance not covered by Social Security. In Spain it must be paid until children are over the age of 18 years or until they become financially independent. Anyway, things are different in every case, so it is important to seek legal advice specific to your circumstances.
In order to determine the amount of child support, the economic capacity of the parents and the needs of the child or children must be taken into account. The minimum amount of child support or “vital minimum” (of between 150 and 200 euros) is the amount that the parents must contribute to cover the most essential expenses for the care of the minor children.
In the case of an amicable divorce where both parties agree how much they are each going to contribute to the children’s support, the judge simply has to approve on the amount agreed. However, the judge cannot allow a lower amount than the vital minimum.
If no agreement was reached when the divorce petition was filed, the judge shall determine child support based on the following criteria:
- Income, costs and expenses of both parents (mortgages, loans, rentals…)
- Number of children
- Living requirements and special needs of the children
- City/region of residence
This criteria will help the court to analyse each case specifically taking into account the circumstances of each parent to allow the judge to calculate and award a monthly payment which is fair to all parties. To assist them in this complex calculation, Judges use an online child maintenance calculator from the General Authority of Judges. The calculation is not binding on Judge as circumstances always vary, however it can be used as a reference for lawyers to ascertain the amount that can be claimed at court.
Sole Custody/Shared custody
In the case of sole custody, the non-custodial parent pays child support. If shared care happens for an average of one night a week or more (at least 52 nights a year), this can affect the amount of child maintenance. The amount is awarded on the time spent with the children. Therefore, more time with the children means less money to be paid.
Exemption from paying child support due to lack of resources
Even in situations in which the parents find themselves in a difficult economic situation, child maintenance must be paid. Lack of financial means is no excuse. You can only request a contribution proportional to income, for example, 70-30% or the modulation finally established by the Court.
Written in collaboration with Natalie Efiamarho