Alimony and child support

Child support (Kindesunterhalt) is usually quite simple to handle, as the amounts to be paid are set by the "Düsseldorfer Tabelle". If you are taking care of minors, you may also contact the local youth agency (Jugendamt), which will help you to enforce the child support claim against the other parent.

The laws on spouse support (Ehegattenunterhalt) on the other hand is quite complicated and spouse support (alimony) claims should not be calculated or agreed upon without legal representation.  

Basis for the calculation of spouse support is the marital income (eheliche Lebensverhältnisse).

The basic calculation runs like this: (A - B) / 7 x 3.

A and B being the incomes of the spouses.

An example:

Monthly net income

wife                                                                        3.000,00 €

husband                                                               2.000,00 €

Calculation: 1.000,00 / 7 x 3 = 428,00 €.

In this (simplified) example the husband could claim a monthly support of 428,00 € in case of separation.

There is no time limit to that as long as the marriage is not divorced. After the divorce usually a time limit applies. The law does not say for how long the alimony has to be paid. As a rule of thumb spouse support has to be paid for about 1/3 of the duration of the marriage. Sometimes it´s much shorter, if the separation phase was very long and support has been paid during the separation phase. Basically, support is paid during the "orientation phase", which is the amount of time the spouse in need of support needs to find work, maybe gain an education and generally get used to get by on his own income.   

Quite often one of the spouses is not working full time with the consequence, that his income is rather low.  The law expects him to take care of himself some time after separation. He has to take on a full time job after one year of separation at the latest. If he doesn´t, his support claim is calculated with a fictitious income. Should a full time job not be possible because of child care, a fictitious income from a part time job may apply. Only if the spouse takes care of small children up to the age of three or has reached retirement age there is no obligation to look for work.