Government approves decoupling child support payments from minimum wage
The government approved the draft legislation prepared by the Ministry of Justice which will, if it passes the Riigikogu, separate the minimum maintenance rate from the minimum wage and replace it with a formula, which considers actual expenses made for the child.
The minimum wage which has up to now been the determiner of the child maintenance rate will be replaced with a formula which consists of criteria set out in the draft legislation and summarized below.
For example, when the maintenance compensation is paid for one child and the child spends less than seven days a month with the other parent and the obligated parent has the average monthly income then the maintenance compensation will be €213 per child.
The court can increase the sum according to the actual needs of the child, the income of both parents or the division of expenses between the two parents. When the income of the obligated parent is over the average, then, for example, three percent of the actual income of the obligated parent can be added to the basic amount of maintenance instead of the average gross monthly salary.
The maintenance can be decreased only for compelling reasons - the parent's incapacity to work, the parent has another child who would be less secured than the child receiving maintenance.
- The base sum is €200. The basic maintenance amount is the minimum amount of maintenance based on the average standard budget of all age groups proposed in the final report of the child needs-based minimum maintenance study, rounded up by €20, as the basic data on which the study is based are somewhat outdated. The basic amount shall be adjusted on April 1 each year by the change in the consumer price index of the previous calendar years on a compound interest basis;
- Obligated parent's income. As a rule, three percent of the last year's gross income is added to the base sum. As the draft enters into force, the added sum is €43 and the sum is recalculated every April 1;
- The number of children receiving maintenance in the same family. Consider the possibility to concentrate the expenses when raising several children, the maintenance is 15 percent smaller starting from the second child. The sum of the maintenance is not decreased in the case of twins, triplets and children with an age gap of fewer than three years;
- Family subsidies. When determining the maintenance, child support is considered. If these benefits are received by the maintenance claimant, half of the benefit is deducted from the amount of maintenance for each child;
- Shared living space of a child. When the child spends less than days a month at the parent's place who is paying the maintenance, the amount of maintenance is reduced in proportion to the time spent with the obligated parent.
During the last years, maintenance has turned out to be overwhelming to a lot of parents precisely due to increasing minimum wage.
Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform) said that the government's decision is a huge step towards having fewer court hearings regarding the most painful topics.
The draft has passed two rounds of coordination, after which the Ministry of Justice has also met with representatives of stakeholders on both occasions (January and June 2021). An important issue was the amendment of previous court decisions, where the Ministry decided to freeze them at the current level by means of an implementing provision.
This means that if the bill is passed in the Riigikogu this year and the minimum wage rises again in the new year, the previously agreed minimum maintenance rate would remain at the current €292.
The next step is for the government to submit the draft to the Riigikogu, which must pass three readings in parliament before it can enter into force.
More information about the proposed changes can be read on the website of the Ministry of Justice.
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Editor: Roberta Vaino