Maintenance modification due to family bonus? The family / child bonus in maintenance law

As part of the economic stimulus package for the corona crisis, the German government intends to provide families with a one-off payment of € 300.00 per child entitled to child benefit. According to the plans published so far, the amount is to be paid out in two monthly instalments of € 150.00 each with the child benefit in September and October.

No law has yet been passed to regulate this one-off payment. Whether the one-off payment will actually be made has therefore not yet been reliably determined, nor have the amount or payment modalities. A specification of how the child bonus is to be dealt with when calculating maintenance has also not yet been reliably determined. However, it is possible that it will be clarified that the allowance is to be taken into account in maintenance payments in the same way as child benefit.

There was already a similar one-off benefit for families during the 2009 financial crisis. At that time, a one-off payment of € 100.00 was made with the child benefit. The bonus was categorised as the child's income and thus benefited both parents in terms of maintenance under Section 1612b BGB. The maintenance to be paid was reduced by half of the child benefit or, in the case of adult children, by the full child benefit.

It can be assumed that the renewed linking of the bonus to child benefit will lead to a similar procedure. The maintenance to be paid would then be reduced accordingly for two months.

What should be done in this case? If the maintenance is titled, the person obliged to pay maintenance is not advised to simply withhold the difference. The maintenance creditor could enforce outstanding amounts without an agreement on the reduction. The debtor may have to ask the creditor to waive their rights under the title for the respective amount and the respective month. He should be able to prove this request in the event of a dispute.

The entitled party should also check carefully how they behave. If the entitled party insists on the continued payment of the titled maintenance or even pursues enforcement of the title, he or she runs the risk of having to bear the costs of a justified request for modification by the obligated party in court proceedings or for an action for defence against enforcement by the obligated party and, in addition, the enforcement costs including the costs of the other party alone.

Both parties should therefore carefully consider how they wish to deal with the child bonus in the maintenance relationship. The question of whether the financial expense and financial benefit of a different maintenance arrangement for the two months in dispute are in a reasonable relationship is also important. Legal advice can help with this.

Dr Pia Maria Maretzke

-Lawyer and specialised lawyer for family law-


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