Child maintenance or alimony is the financial contribution to be paid between parents in case of need. Our Civil Code states that this child maintenance means everything that is necessary for sustenance, housing, clothing, medical care, education and instruction. Unless otherwise mutually agreed, maintenance includes all the ordinary expenses of the minor children (school start-up costs, regular pharmaceutical expenses, ordinary leisure, mobile phone, etc.).
Minor children will always have the right to receive maintenance, but once they are of age they will continue to have this right if they are not financially independent for reasons that are not attributable to them.
As the Civil Code states that those obliged to provide maintenance can either pay maintenance or keep the person entitled to maintenance – in this case, the children – in their own household. In cases of sole custody of one parent, it is the non-custodial parent who pays maintenance, as the custodial parent provides maintenance by keeping the children with him/her. This does not mean that in cases of shared custody, maintenance is never paid: when there is a great economic imbalance between the parents, it can be established that the parent who is better off must also pay maintenance in order to equalise the standard of living of the children during the time they spend with the parent who is less well off.