BGH on the assertion of additional requirements for child maintenance

In a decision (XII ZB 282/23) dated 24 April 2024, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on the requirements for the assertion of additional needs for child maintenance. The key points here:

BackgroundA child, represented by his mother, demanded additional maintenance in arrears from his father for the period from 1 February 2020 to 31 August 2021. The father initially paid child maintenance on the basis of an out-of-court agreement and later undertook to pay in accordance with the sixth income group of the Düsseldorf table. However, the mother demanded higher maintenance and additional needs for childcare costs at an all-day school.

First instance decisionThe local court awarded the child a total of €1,728, of which €588 was for additional needs. The Higher Regional Court reduced this amount to €1,086.50, of which only €171.50 was recognised as additional needs for the period from April 2021. For the period before April 2021, it rejected the claim for additional needs because the mother's request for information was not specific enough.

Decision of the BGHThe Federal Court of Justice partially overturned the decision of the Higher Regional Court and referred the case back. The Senate ruled that a general request for information on income and assets for the purpose of asserting child maintenance is sufficient to retroactively assert the claim for additional needs. It is not necessary for the request for information to explicitly differentiate between basic maintenance and additional needs.

ReasonThe Federal Court of Justice clarified that the statutory provision in § 1613 Para. 1 Sentence 1 BGB does not require the additional requirement to be expressly mentioned in the request for information. A general request for information for the purpose of asserting child maintenance is sufficient to enable the entire maintenance claim, including the additional requirement, to be asserted. According to the unanimous opinion, the provision serves to protect the maintenance debtor from high additional claims. However, once a request for information has been received, the maintenance debtor is no longer considered to be worthy of protection, because from this point onwards he or she must concretely expect to be called upon to pay maintenance and can and must make appropriate provisions for this if necessary.

ConsequencesThe decision of the Federal Court of Justice means that parents who assert maintenance claims for their children no longer have to specify in detail which components of maintenance (basic maintenance and additional needs) they name in their request for information to the party liable for maintenance. A general request for information on income and assets is sufficient to be able to retroactively claim additional needs.

Additional requirements for child maintenance refers to Special expenseswhich are incurred regularly and in addition to the general maintenance costs, but are not included in the usual table amounts of the so-called Düsseldorf table. These additional costs are foreseeable and calculable and are incurred over a longer period of time. Examples of additional needs can be

Costs for school education: Textbooks, extra tuition or special school activities.

Childcare: Fees for kindergarten, childminder or after-school care.

Healthcare costs: Regular costs for necessary therapies or treatments that are not covered by health insurance.

Leisure activities: Costs for sports clubs, music lessons or other regular extracurricular activities.

In contrast to the Special requirementsAdditional needs that arise suddenly and unpredictably (e.g. an urgent operation or a one-off school trip) can be planned and occur regularly. Parents must bear the additional needs in proportion to their financial capacity.

For the Assertion of additional requirements it is important that the parent liable for maintenance is informed in good time and in detail about the costs to be incurred so that he or she can prepare for them and, if necessary, build up reserves.

We will be happy to advise you on the often very complex details!


Dr Magdalena Dittmann


Specialist lawyer for family law


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