What to bear in mind when it comes to spousal alimony

In the case of spousal alimony, a distinction must be made between different types of support, which have different prerequisites and modalities: Separation maintenance and post-marital maintenance.

Separation maintenance

In principle, a marriage can only be dissolved after a year of separation. For the period between separation and divorce, the spouses are also financially responsible for each other.

This includes ensuring their livelihood if a married couple gives up the domestic community and marital cohabitation.

Maintenance payments can only be demanded from the other spouse if he or she is the sole income earner or has a significantly higher income.

If the spouse has not previously been employed or has only been employed to a small extent, he or she is not obliged to provide for himself or herself financially during the separation period.

The amount of separation maintenance is based on the marital living conditions and consists of several items:

  • The elementary maintenance for rent and living costs.
  • The precautionary maintenance for old-age provision and costs for health and long-term care insurance.
  • Depending on the personal situation, additional needs for education or training, illness or other special expenses.

Separation maintenance is limited in time until the divorce decree becomes final. If maintenance is to be paid beyond this time, an application must be made for post-marital maintenance.

Post-marital maintenance

After divorce, the principle of personal responsibility applies (§ 1569 BGB). It is now the responsibility of each ex-spouse to provide for his or her own maintenance and to seek employment.

Only those who are unable to do so and are therefore needy can have a claim for maintenance against their ex-partner.

The most common case is maintenance on the grounds of caring for young children together. In addition, there are also reasons based on age, illness or infirmity, involuntary unemployment, insufficient income despite gainful employment, education and training or debt rescheduling and for reasons of equity.

The person obliged to pay maintenance must be able to do so. This is only the case if, after deduction of an appropriate deductible, there are funds available at all to pay the spousal alimony.

Child maintenance and support

Regardless of whether you were married, you may be entitled to childcare maintenance in the event of a separation with young children.
Child maintenance (Betreuungsunterhalt) is payable if one spouse is solely responsible for raising the child or joint children, the child is not yet three years old and the income is below that of the non-responsible spouse despite employment. If the child is older than three years old, only the claim for child support (Kindesunterhalt) can be considered.
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A separation is always a very emotional and frustrating time. Often the financial existence is at stake. Our team is at your side and will review the financial situation on both sides. We will be happy to explain your options and make the various claims on your behalf. We strive to process applications quickly and rely on personal and open correspondence with our clients.

Anwältin für Familienrecht Katharina Kutter
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