Child Maintenance

Update 10.08.2022

What are the rights of my child?

Raising children is wonderful but also costly. That can sometimes become an issue, especially when parents separate and/or are not together (anymore). In such cases, arguments over the amount of money one parent has to give the other for children's expenses are common. In Germany, such payment (i.e. child maintenance) is regulated in the maintenance law or "Unterhaltsrecht". The maintenance law determines which parent has to support the other financially and the minimum amount of money they pay. In this chapter, you can find the essential information on child maintenance in Germany. 

What do I need to know?

What is the right of maintenance ("Unterhaltsrecht")?

The maintenance law stipulates that family members must provide for one another when one of them needs support. Such support is called "maintenance" or "Unterhalt"- and when it is paid for children, child maintenance or "Kindesunterhalt". 

Child maintenance can be paid for in several ways:

  • Cash: When a family member gives money to another family member to buy food or clothing for themselves, it is called "Barunterhalt".
  • Material: When parents give their children, for example, food or clothing directly, this is what is known as "Naturunterhalt".
  • Support for providing care: A child (or a family member in need of care) requires food and clothing but also a lot of supervision and attention. When another family member takes care of these needs, support for providing care and looking after children ("Betreuungsunterhalt") becomes relevant. The family member in question also needs money to support themselves. So the amount of money they need to support themselves while looking after the child is also part of "Betreuungsunterhalt".

In most cases, maintenance rights concern parents and their children. However, married couples, registered civil partners, parents and grandparents may also be entitled to maintenance.

Who is entitled to child maintenance?

The children are "entitled" to child maintenance, not the other parent. The designated parent receives child maintenance to spend the money on the child. Generally speaking, the child must be a minor to be entitled to child maintenance. But children who are over 18 years old and are still in their first professional training or at university also receive child maintenance. You can learn whether you have to pay maintenance in the section "Should I pay maintenance for my child?".

Should I pay maintenance for my child?

Whether you have to pay maintenance for your child depends on various factors:

  • Where your child lives: You must pay maintenance for your child if the child does not live with you. If your child partially lives with you, different rules apply. Since there are currently (as of 2022) no clear legal rulings in this regard, you should try to come to an agreement directly with the other parent. If you cannot do so, you can seek help from the Youth Welfare Office or a law firm. You can learn more in the section "Where can I find advice and support?".
  • Your income: You only have to pay maintenance if you earn enough money. The exact amount is regulated by what is known as "Selbstbehalt". You can learn more in the section "What is 'Selbstbehalt'?".

Please note: There are no fixed rules for how long you have to pay maintenance for your child. In principle, you have to support your child until they finish their first professional training. Until then, your child will not be able to take care of themselves financially. Such training can be dual or school-based vocational training or a university degree. If your child starts studying after vocational training, their studies count as first professional training. However, the degree must build on the training or have a similar topic - this is the case, for example, if your child starts studying economics after training as a bank clerk.

If your child drops out of vocational training, but you are not informed or disagree, you no longer have to pay child maintenance. Your child will then have to fend for themselve. But only if they are over 18 years old. Parents always have to pay maintenance for minor children.

Please note: If your child moves out and goes through vocational training, both parents must pay child maintenance, regardless of whether parents live together or are separated.

What is "Selbstbehalt"?

Although you have to pay maintenance for your child, you should still have enough money left to take care of yourself - that means after paying child maintenance, you must have enough money left for yourself so that you do not need government aid. That is why the concept of "Selbstbehalt" or self-sustenance is designated. "Selbsterhalt" is the amount of money you need each month to take care of yourself. The exact amount of "Selbstbehalt" is not specified by law. Judges often use the amount in the "Düsseldorf Tabel" as a guide. The amount of "Selbstbehalt" in the table differs from case to case and depends on whether you work and how old your child is.

Currently, the following applies (as of 2022):

  • If you work and pay maintenance for your underage child, you must currently have at least €1,160 per month left for yourself. The same applies if you pay maintenance for a child under the age of 21 who: 1) is not married, 2) attends school or university or is going through vocational training and 3) lives with one of the parents.
  • If you are unemployed and paying maintenance for your minor child, you must currently have at least €960 left per month. The same applies if you are paying maintenance for a child under the age of 21 who: 1) is not married, 2) attends school or university or is going through vocational training and 3) lives with one of the parents.
  • If your child 1) is of legal age and 2) going through vocational training or study, and 3) no longer lives at home with a parent, you can have €1,400 left per month as "Selbstbehalt" or self-sustenance, regardless of whether you are working or unemployed.

You can learn more about the effect of "Selbstbehalt" or self-sustenance on the amount of your child maintenance in the section "How do I calculate the approximate amount of my child maintenance payments?".

What is the minimum amount of maintenance for my child?

The Child Maintenance Act does not specify the exact amount you must pay for child maintenance - it only states the minimum limit. You will find the minimum amount in the so-called Minimum Maintenance Ordinance ("Mindestunterhaltsverordnung "), which is updated annually. You can find the December 2021 version (in German) on the website of the Federal Law Gazette. The amount of child maintenance depends on the child's age.

According to the current Minimum Maintenance Ordinance, you must pay the following amounts per child in 2022 and 2023:

  • For children aged 0 to 5 years: You must pay at least €396 per month. From January 1, 2023, the monthly payment will increase to €404.
  • For children aged 6 to 11: You must pay €455 per month for 2022. From January 1, 2023, the monthly payment will increase to €464.
  • For children aged 12 to 17: You must pay €533 per month for 2022. From January 1, 2023, the monthly payment will increase to €543.

Please note: If your child receives child benefits ("Kindergeld"), you can deduct half of the child benefit from the above amounts. However, this only applies to minors. If your child is over 18 and still receives child benefits, you can deduct the total amount of child benefit from the child maintenance. In our " Child benefit" chapter, you can read more about child benefits in Germany.

You and the other parent determine the exact amount of child maintenance together. You can use the "Düsseldorf Tabel" as a guideline. Judges also use this table when deciding on the amount of child maintenance. However, the table is not legally binding and functions only as a guide. You can learn more about the table and how you can use it to calculate the approximate amount of child maintenance in the section "How do I calculate the approximate amount of child maintenance?".

How do I calculate the approximate amount of child support?

You can use the "Düsseldorf Tabel" to calculate approximately how much child maintenance you must pay. To calculate the approximate amount, you can follow these steps:

  1. Determine your so-called "adjusted net income" ("bereinigtes Netto-Einkommen"): You can calculate the adjusted net income by deducting the following from your gross monthly salary: taxes, social security contributions and other expenses, for example, nursing care insurance fees. You can also deduct debts or work-related expenses, for instance, costs of your work commute, if you have any. In the Düsseldorf Tabel (as of 2022), a flat rate of 5 per cent of net income is included for work expenses. So you can deduct 5 per cent of your net income from your net income. You can seek advice from a lawyer for a precise calculation. You will find contact details of lawyers in your area in the section "Where can I find advice and support?". Important: Your net salary in the last 12 months is used to calculate your income. If you receive a Christmas or holiday bonus, you need to add that to the calculation. You must state any other income that you may have, for example, rental revenues or share profits. If you are self-employed, your balance sheets and profit and loss accounts of the last three financial years are used to calculate the amount of child maintenance. Please note: You are legally obliged to disclose your assets to the other parent truthfully. If you don't, a court will order you to do so.
  2. Determine the preliminary amount of child maintenance: You can use the Düsseldorf table to calculate the preliminary amount of child maintenance. The table shows how much money the parent with whom the child lives needs per month to care for the child. The amount includes maintenance for the child and the so-called "Betreuungsleistung" or the support the other parents should receive for looking after the child, i.e. doing the childcare tasks, like washing, shopping and helping the child with homework. You can determine the amount of your child maintenance payment by checking the "Düsseldorf Tabel": First, check the first column from the left ("Nettoeinkommen des/der Barunterhaltspflichtigen" or net income of the person obliged to pay child maintenance) and find the line where your adjusted net income is. Then look in the middle column "Altersstufen in Jahren" and find your child's age group - there, you can see the amount you should pay for child maintenance. If you have several children, determine the amount of maintenance for each child individually. Then add up the amounts to see how much maintenance you have to pay for your children. However, you should pay that amount only IF you would have enough money left at the end of the month after payment. The calculation can be tricky. Here is an example to make the process easier to understand. ExampleYou have an adjusted net income of €2,400 and two children aged 5 and 8. Check the Düsseldorf table to see which line applies to your adjusted net income. Your adjusted net income is €2,400, so the line "2,301 - 2,700" applies to your situation. To find out how much maintenance you have to pay for your two children, you need to look in the "Altersstufen in Jahren" column (because the amount of maintenance also depends on your children's age). There you see separate columns for four age groups. Let's check which age group applies to your children: Age group 0-5 applies to your five-year-old child, and age group 6-11 to your eight-year-old child. As you see in the table, you have to pay €436 for your five-year-old child and €501 for your eight-year-old child. Therefore, your preliminary amount of maintenance payment is, therefore: €436 + €501 = €937. That means you need to pay €937 for your two children - but only if, after the payment, you would still have enough money left to cover your expenses at the end of the month, i.e. if the remnant of your income is not lower than the amount of "Selbstbehalt" or self-sustenance.
  3. Calculate whether your income is above the current "Selbstbehalt" or self-sustenance: This step determines whether you earn enough money to pay child maintenance. You can learn the current amount of "Selbstbehalt" in the "What is 'Selbstbehalt'?" section. You can determine whether your income is above the current self-sustenance level by deducting the monthly child maintenance (calculated in the previous step using the Düsseldorf Table) from your adjusted net income. If what is left is higher than the current self-sustenance level, you must pay child maintenance. But if it is lower, you can negotiate with the other parent whether you can pay less child maintenance. If that is not possible, you must try to make more money, for instance, by finding an additional job or moving to a cheaper apartment. If that is not working or enough, it is called a "deficiency case" of "Mangelfall". You can read more about it in the section "What do I do if I cannot pay child maintenance?" and "I have to pay maintenance for several children. Can I pay a lower amount for each?". To make the complex calculation easier to understand, let's continue with the example from above: ExampleYour adjusted net income is €2,400. We calculated that you should pay €937 for your two children in the previous step. To calculate whether you have enough income to pay maintenance, you need to deduct the amount of maintenance from your adjusted net income: €2,400 - €937 = €1,436. So you have €1,436 left at the end of the month if you pay €937 for your children. The current amount of self-maintenance for employed persons who pay maintenance for underage children is currently €1,160. The same applies to you- you are employed and pay maintenance for two minor children. Therefore, your self-sustenance or "Selbstbehalt" is €1,160. That means you would have enough money left at the end of the month after paying €937 for child maintenance. You can therefore pay maintenance for both children. But whether you have to pay the full amount is regulated by the "Bedarfskontrollbetrag" or Standard amount for personal needs. 
  4. Determine the standard amount for personal needs (the so-called "Bedarfskontrollbetrag" ): "Bedarfskontrollbetrag" is the amount that you are allowed to keep from your income after paying maintenance. If you would have less money left than the "Bedarfskontrollbetrag", you may pay less child maintenance. To calculate how much, you can use the amount mentioned one row below your adjusted net income in the Düsseldorf Tabel as a guide. Let's clarify the calculation process by using the example from above. ExampleYou can find the amount of your standard amount for personal needs or "Bedarfskontrollbetrag" in the Düsseldorf table in the column "Bedarfskontrollbetrag". Look in the row that applies to your income level. Your adjusted net income is €2,400. Therefore, the 3rd row "2,301 - 2,700" applies to you. Your "Bedarfskontrollbetrag" is, therefore, €1,500, as you can see in the table. But after paying maintenance, you would have only €1,436 left. That's less than €1,500. That means you would not have enough money left from your income if you paid the specified amount for child maintenance. Therefore, you can pay the next lower amount of child maintenance on the table: look one row below your net income- that would be €416 for your five-year-old child and €478 for your eight-year-old child: €416 + €478 = €894. So €894 is the total amount of child maintenance you have to pay for your two children. Let's deduct this amount from your net income: €2,400 – €894 = €1,506. This places your remnant income above the "Bedarfskontrollbetrag" level for your adjusted net income. So you can pay €416 and €478, altogether €894 in maintenance for your two children.

Important: An exact calculation is quite tricky because every family is different and has different needs and earnings. You need to consult a family law attorney for a legally accurate calculation. On anwaltsauskunft.de, you will find specialised lawyers. You can also seek help from the Youth Welfare Office - you will find the Youth Welfare Office responsible at unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de

I have to pay child maintenance for several children. Can I pay a lower amount for each?

If you earn enough money, you will have to pay full child maintenance for all your children. When you don't have enough money to support all your children and yourself, that's what's known as "Mangelfall" or "deficiency case". When that is the case, your children will receive maintenance from you in a specific order, i.e. the amount you have to pay for each child is calculated using a formula. The exact calculation is complex, so it is best to seek help. You can find support at the Youth Welfare Office, for instance. The staff can help you with the calculation. However, they usually only speak German. You can find the Youth Welfare Office responsible for you at unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de. You can find out more about the tasks of the Youth Welfare Office in our chapter "Youth Welfare Office". You can find support options in your language in the section "Where can I find advice and support?".

What can I do if we can't agree on the amount of child maintenance?

If you and the other parent cannot agree on the amount of monthly maintenance for your child, you can contact the Youth Welfare Office. The staff will calculate the monthly maintenance payments for you. However, keep in mind that the employees of the Youth Welfare Office are not trained as lawyers. You can find the Youth Welfare Office responsible for you at unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de. The employees usually only speak German. You can find out more about the tasks and responsibilities of the Youth Welfare Office in our chapter "Youth Welfare Office". Family law attorneys can also help you with the calculation. But you have to pay for their service. You can see where you can find specialised lawyers in the section "Where can I find advice and support?".

If you and the other parent agree on an amount, you can officially record this agreement in a "Unterhaltsurkunde" or maintenance deed. You can learn more about maintenance deeds in the section "What is a maintenance deed ("Unterhaltsurkunde") and why do I need it?".

If you and the other parent are unable to reach an agreement, there are other ways in which you can receive maintenance for your child. You can read about these options in the section "What can I do if the other parent does not pay maintenance?".

What is a maintenance deed ("Unterhaltsurkunde ") and why do I need it?

You and the other parent can agree on the monthly maintenance amount and have your agreement notarised. With an official agreement, you will not have to discuss the issue again and again. Such a document is also useful if you have a dispute with the other parent in court about the payment of maintenance because a maintenance deed is a so-called "enforceable legal document" ("vollstreckbarer Titel"). An enforceable legal document is a public document which certifies that you are entitled to something. Having such a document makes it easier for you to claim maintenance from the other parent if they don't pay.

You can have your agreement documented at the Youth Welfare Office or a notary's office. You have to pay fees at a notary office, but the Youth Welfare Office will document your agreement free of charge. You will then receive an official document. At the Youth Welfare Office, this official document is called the "Jugendamtsurkunde". If you have the deed issued by a notary's office, it is called a "Unterhaltsurkunde". Authorities use both names.

To receive this document, you need to make an appointment with the Youth Welfare Office or a notary's office. Only the parent who pays maintenance has to appear at this appointment. For the appointment, you need the following documents: 

  • Your ID 
  • Your child's birth certificate or maternity card ("Mutterpass")
  • A letter or paper detailing the exact amount of child support. You should also mention whether maintenance is paid each month and exactly when. The letter can be written by the parent with whom the child lives, the Youth Welfare Office or a law firm.
  • If available, a court order for payment of maintenance

You can find the Youth Welfare Office responsible for you at unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de. Check notar.de to search for a notary office nearby. There you can also search for notaries who speak your language. The employees of the Youth Welfare Office usually only speak German.

What can I do if the other parent does not want to pay child maintenance?

If the other parent doesn't pay child maintenance, there are different ways to collect the money. Your options depend on whether you have a child maintenance deed ("Unterhaltsurkunde").

I have a child maintenance deed:

If you have a maintenance deed ("Unterhaltsurkunde") but the other parent doesn't pay maintenance, you can initiate  

compulsory enforcement ("Zwangsvollstreckung") against them. Therefore, the salary of the other parent would be seized by the court, i.e., part of the salary is transferred directly to the court and then to you. You can apply for compulsory enforcement at your local district court. You need to fill out "Antrag auf Erlass eines Pfändungs- und Überweisungsbeschlusses wegen Unterhaltsforderungen" (application for the issuance of a seizure and transfer order due to maintenance claims). Also, send a copy of the child maintenance deed and proof that the other parent has also received this deed. In case you need help with the application, you can seek help from Youth Migration Service in your area.

Instead of seeking compulsory enforcement, you can also directly sue the other parent in court. You can learn more in the section "Can I sue the other parent for child maintenance?".

I do not have a child maintenance deed:

If you do not have a maintenance deed and want to avoid court proceedings, you can apply for a so-called "Beistandschaft" or guardianship either at a lawyer's office or the Youth Welfare Office. Youth Welfare Office provides such support free of charge, but you usually have to pay fees for a lawyer. A guardian will advise you on the amount of child maintenance and tell you how to claim maintenance from the other parent. The Youth Welfare Office or the lawyer will ask the other parent directly to pay the maintenance. If the other parent does not comply, the guardian can take the case to court. You can find the Youth Welfare Office responsible for you at unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de. The employees usually only speak German. You can find specialised lawyers at anwaltsauskunft.de. There you can also search for lawyers who speak your language. To do so, click on "Erweiterte Suche" (advanced search).

Important: The guardian only represents the rights of your child. They are not your legal representative. The Youth Welfare Office will also support your child with maintenance issues free of charge after their 18th birthday.

Alternatively, you can also sue the other parent in court directly. You can learn more in the section "Can I sue for child maintenance?". Court proceedings can take a long time - if you need a quick solution, the so-called simplified procedure ("vereinfachte Verfahren") can be an option. You can learn more about it in the section "What is the simplified procedure or 'vereinfachte Verfahren'?".

What is the simplified procedure or "vereinfachtes Verfahren"?

The simplified procedure is a form of quick and inexpensive court procedure. It enables you to sue the other parent and receive child maintenance faster. For the simplified procedure to be carried out, the following requirements must be met:

  • The child has not yet filed a lawsuit against the parent for their failure to pay child maintenance
  • You do not have an officially recorded maintenance agreement, for example, a maintenance deed. To learn more about the child maintenance deeds, see the section "What is a maintenance deed?".

You can initiate the simplified procedure by writing to the other parent and asking them to notarise the child maintenance payment officially. In the "What is a maintenance deed?" section, you can learn how to do so. That is essential because, without such a written request, you may have to pay for the procedure. If the other parent does not follow your request, you can submit an application to the family court for the so-called "simplified procedure". You can directly ask the district court responsible for the form, i.e., the district court at your child's place of residence. You can find the contact details of the district court responsible on the Federal Justice Portal. To do so, select "Familienrechtssachen" (family rights issues) from the drop-down menu and enter your child's place of residence or postcode. After you have submitted your application, the court will examine it. If the court agrees to your application, it will calculate the amount of child maintenance. You will then receive a ruling from the court. With this ruling, you have the right to obtain child maintenance from the other parent through compulsory enforcement ("Zwangsvollstreckung") - which means the court withholds part of the other parent's salary and gives it to you. You can apply for compulsory enforcement ("Zwangsvollstreckung") at your local district court. To do so, fill out "Antrag auf Erlass eines Pfändungs- und Überweisungsbeschlusses wegen Unterhaltsforderungen" (the application for the issuance of a seizure and transfer order due to maintenance claims). You can seek help if you are unsure how to fill out the form. The Youth Migration Service staff can help you with the task. You can find an office nearby at jugendmigrationsdienste.de. The employees speak various languages.

The other parent can appeal against the court ruling. However, certain conditions must be met for such an appeal. That is the case, for instance, when the other parent would not have enough money left for themselves if they pay child maintenance.

Can I sue the other parent for child maintenance?

Yes. You can file a lawsuit in the family court. It is advisable to write to the other parent asking them to disclose the amount of their income and assets and pay child maintenance by a specific date before filing the lawsuit. You can seek help from counselling centres, a lawyer or the Youth Welfare Office if you are unsure how to formulate such a letter. This written request is crucial because it allows you to claim child maintenance retrospectively. You can read more about it in the section "Can I claim maintenance from the other parent retrospectively?". You can also apply for financial support ("Beratungshilfe") to benefit from a lawyer's advice. The court then assumes most of the costs, and you only have to pay €15 for the consultation with the lawyer. You can apply for "Beratungshilfe" to the administration of justice ("Rechtspflege") in the district court.

To submit a lawsuit, you need a lawyer. You can find contact details of specialised lawyers in the section "Where can I find advice and support?". You can apply for so-called legal aid ("Prozesskostenhilfe") if you do not have enough money for the legal fees. Then the state takes over the costs of the lawsuit. You can learn more about such state aid in our chapter "Legal Aid".

Once you have filed your complaint, the court will ask the other parent to respond to your complaint in writing within a specific deadline. After that, the court invites you both to a hearing. The court tries to figure out how much child maintenance is due at the hearing.

Please note: A maintenance process can take a long time. If you are financially dependent on child maintenance, under certain conditions, you can apply for maintenance advance ("Unterhaltsvorschuss"). You can learn more about "Unterhaltsvorschuss" in the section "Who supports my child and me financially until the other parent pays child maintenance?".

What rights do I have if the other parent lives abroad?

If the other parent who owes you child maintenance lives outside Germany, you can contact the Federal Office for Justice. The Central Office for Maintenance Abroad (Zentrale Behörde für Auslandsunterhalt) is in charge of such cases. You can contact their staff at +49 228 99 410 6434 from Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Friday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. You can also email them your questions via auslandsunterhalt@bfj.bund.de. The employees speak German and mostly also English.

Can I claim child maintenance from the other parent retrospectively?

You can claim child maintenance from the other parent retrospectively. That means you can demand child maintenance from the other parent for previous months or even years. But there are specific deadlines you have to meet, which means you can only claim maintenance retrospectively from a certain point in time. These are:

  • The day you requested the other parent's payslips or other proof of income in writing. You can prove you have done so by presenting a copy of the letter you have sent the other parent.
  • The day you wrote to the other parent asking for child maintenance. You can do so via a letter. The letter should have a date. Make a copy of the letter and keep it safe. You can also send the letter via registered mail. You will then receive a confirmation from the post office when the other parent receives your letter.
  • The day when the other parent stops paying child maintenance. You can prove when by presenting your bank statements. If you have a maintenance deed, you can also provide evidence of the amount of child maintenance due.

Please note: In exceptional cases, you can request maintenance retrospectively even if you have not asked the other parent for information about their income or payment. That is the case, for instance, if the father was previously unknown or residing abroad.

Who supports my child and me financially until the other parent pays child maintenance?

If the other parent is not currently paying child maintenance, you can, under certain conditions, receive what is known as a "Unterhaltsvorschuss" or maintenance advance from the state. The advance payment is transferred to you - and the other parent must later pay this money back to the state. 

Whether you can receive maintenance advance payments from the state depends on your residence permit and some other conditions.

You can apply for the maintenance advance if you or your child meet one of the following conditions:

  • You or your child have a permanent residence permit ("Niederlassungserlaubnis")
  • You or your child have an EU permanent residence permit
  • You or your child have a "Beschäftigungsduldung"
  • You are allowed to work in Germany for at least six months because you have an EU Blue Card, an ICT Card or a Mobile ICT Card

Please note: You may also be able to apply for the maintenance advance if you or your child have a residence permit and are allowed to work in Germany for at least six months. Or in case you have a residence permit and were allowed to work earlier. It is best to ask the maintenance advance payment fund ("Unterhaltsvorschusskasse") or maintenance advance payment office ("Unterhaltsvorschussstelle") or a counselling centre for advice.

In addition, you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • You are a single parent.
  • Your child is under 18 years old.
  • You live with your child in Germany.
  • The other parent does not pay maintenance at all or regularly. The same applies if the other parent pays less maintenance than specified in the Minimum Maintenance Ordinance ("Mindestunterhaltsverordnung"). You can learn how much the amount should be in the section "What is the minimum amount of maintenance for my child?".
  • You have not remarried and are not in a new registered partnership.

If your child is between the ages of 12 and 17, you must also meet one of the following conditions:

  • Your child does not receive any financial support from the Jobcenter (Hartz IV)
  • You receive Unemployment Benefit II and earn at least €600 gross per month (through employment).

Please note: You can still receive advance maintenance if you don't know who the father of your child is or where he lives. But you must cooperate with the authorities to find out who the father is and where he is or could be. The authorities need this information to oblige the child's father to pay the money back. "Unterhaltsvorschuss" is a payment in advance and must be paid back to the state by the child's father.

Where can I apply for child maintenance advance?

You can apply for maintenance advance at the maintenance advance office ("Unterhaltsvorschussstelle") or the maintenance advance fund ("Unterhaltsvorschusskasse") at your place of residence. You will often find the office at the Youth Welfare Office responsible for your child. Otherwise, the Youth Welfare Office can provide you with the address. You can find the proper Youth Welfare Office at unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de.

You can apply for the maintenance advance by filling out a form- ask the local office for the form or check their website. You may need additional documents for the application. Therefore, it is best to ask the competent office.

The amount of the maintenance advance varies depending on your child's age. If your child is going through vocational training, doing voluntary service or working, the amount may be reduced.

As a rule, you will receive the following amounts every month:

  • For children between 0 and 5 years: €177 
  • For children between 6 years and 11 years: €236
  • For children between 12 and 17 years: €314
What should I do if I can't pay child maintenance?

You are legally obliged to pay child maintenance. If you are currently unable to pay, you have the following options:

  • The court may ask you to take another job or move to a smaller apartment.
  • The court may establish a so-called "Mangelfall" or "deficiency case". That is when you don't have enough money to pay child maintenance for all of your children. You can learn more about "Mangelfall" in the section "I have to pay maintenance for several children. Can I pay a lower amount for each?". If the court verifies your case as a "Mangelfall" or "deficiency case", you can pay less child maintenance.
  • The other parent applies for the so-called maintenance advance or "Unterhaltsvorschuss". You can learn more about advance maintenance in the section "Who supports my child and me financially until the other parent pays child maintenance?". However, the German state can demand that you return the advance maintenance. If that's the case, it's best to seek advice. You can find support options in the section "Where can I find advice and support?".
Where can I seek advice and support?

You can seek help from the staff of Youth Migration Service if you face any questions or problems. They often speak various languages. You can find counselling centres in your area on the website of the Youth Migration Service. Their service is free.

If you have any questions about education, family and children, you can contact the Parents' Hotline (Elternhotline). There you will find anonymous counselling. The employees speak many languages, and you can also ask them to suggest a counselling centre in your area. Their service is free.

You can also seek cost-free help and support from the Youth Welfare Office. You can find the proper Youth Welfare Office on unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de by entering your place of residence or postcode. You do not need to worry about contacting the Youth Welfare Office - one of the most crucial responsibilities of the Youth Welfare Office is to help families and provide them with the best possible advice. You can learn more about their tasks and services in our "Youth Welfare Office" chapter. However, as a rule, their staff only speak German.

If you have questions about the maintenance law in Germany, you can also ask a family law attorney. But you have to pay a fee to benefit from their service. You can find lawyers who specialise in family law at anwaltsauskunft.de. Click on "Erweiterte Suche" (advanced search) and select the term "Ehe- und Familienrecht" (Marriage and Family Law) in the "Rechtsgebiet" field. Enter your place of residence in the "PLZ / Ort" field. You can also select your language in the "Fremdsprachen" field. Then you will only be shown lawyers who speak your language.

Important

Don't know where to find the nearest Youth Welfare Office? On unterstuetzung-die-ankommt.de, you can look up the Youth Welfare Office responsible for you. Do not shy away from contacting the Youth Welfare Office. one of the most crucial responsibilities of the Youth Welfare Office is to help families and provide them with the best possible advice. You can learn more about their tasks and services in our "Youth Welfare Office" chapter. 

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