When you get divorced, a lot changes in your family. If you have children, the impact of a divorce will be very big for them as well. Younger children in particular may find it difficult when their parents get divorced. In all cases, it is important that the children’s stable home environment is harmed as little as possible. It is important and even a legal obligation to make agreements with the children about family life after the divorce. The extent to which this can be done together with the children obviously depends on the age of the children. Divorce is also an emotional process for children. Children are often loyal to both parents and will often not express their true feelings during a divorce. Therefore, they too deserve special attention.
For young children, it will not be entirely clear at first what a divorce will mean for them. However, it is important that the children know where they stand and that they can give their opinion about their living situation after the divorce. Of course, it is the parents who ultimately have to make a decision.
Parents who get divorced are often required by law to draw up a parenting plan. It is in any case compulsory for parents who are married or in a registered partnership (with or without joint custody) and for cohabiting parents with joint custody. A parenthood plan is a document in which parents record agreements on the exercise of their parenthood.
In any case, the parenting plan must contain agreements about:
- how you involved the children in drawing up the parenting plan;
- how you divide the care and upbringing (care regulation) or how you deal with the children (access regulation);
- how and how often you give each other information about your child;
- how to make decisions together on important topics, such as school choice;
- the costs of care and upbringing (child support).
In addition, parents can also choose to include other appointments in the parenting plan. For example, what you as parents find important in the upbringing, certain rules (bedtime, homework) or views on punishment. Agreements about contact with both families can also be included in the parenting plan.
Care regulation or contact arrangement
Part of the parenting plan is the care regulation or the contact regulation. Parents who have joint parental authority can agree on a care arrangement. These regulations contain agreements about how parents divide the care and upbringing tasks. If only one parent has parental authority, this is referred to as a contact arrangement. This means that the parent who does not have parental authority may continue to see the child, but that parent is not responsible for the care and upbringing of the child.
Drawing up a parenting plan
In practice, it often happens that parents are not able to make agreements about the children together and then record these in a parenting plan. If you are unable to make agreements with your ex-partner about parenthood after the divorce, you can call in the help of our experienced lawyers or mediators. We will be happy to help you advise and draw up a parenting plan.
Adjusting parenting plan
It is customary that the parenting plan needs to be adjusted after a number of years. After all, children are constantly developing and the situations relating to them can change. Think for example of the situation that one of the parents becomes unemployed, moves house, etc. It may therefore be wise to agree in advance that the parenting plan, for example, will be reviewed every two years and adjusted if necessary.
Do you have children with your partner and are you breaking up? Then your maintenance obligation to take care of your children remains. It does not matter whether you were married or lived exclusively with your ex-partner. Every parent has the obligation to take care of his or her children financially as well. If the children live more with your ex-partner, you will have to contribute to the maintenance of the children. You have a maintenance obligation. The obligation to support children is called child support. Child maintenance continues until the children are 21 years old.
Minimum amount of child support
The minimum amount of child support is 25 euros per child per month. This amount can only be applied if the debtor has a minimum income.
Maximum amount of child support
There is no maximum amount of child support. This depends on the income of both parents and the needs of the child. The alimony will never be higher than this need.
Indexation child maintenance
The amount of child support rises every year. The Minister of Justice determines each year by what percentage the child support goes up. In practice, this is called indexation of alimony. Indexation is mandatory. The person who pays alimony has to apply this indexation every year in January. If this is not done, the parent entitled to maintenance can claim the difference. Are you the parent receiving alimony and your ex-partner refuses to index the alimony amount? Please contact our experienced family law lawyers. They can help you to claim the overdue indexation. This can be done up to five years ago.
If you are not the caring parent, but do have a visitation arrangement which means that the children are with you regularly, then you are eligible for the care discount. This discount will be deducted from the child support payable. The amount of this discount depends on the visitation arrangement and is between 15 percent and 35 percent. The more contact you have with your child, the lower the amount of alimony to be paid. This is because you incur more costs if the children are with you more often.
Children over 18
The maintenance obligation for your children lasts until they reach the age of 21. From the age of 18 a child is of young age. From that moment on, you no longer have anything to do with your ex-partner as far as child maintenance is concerned. However, if your child is 18 and he or she stops school, that is a reason to stop the child support. If he or she does not go to school, he or she can go to work full-time and provide for himself or herself.
In principle, the agreements made with regard to child maintenance continue to apply until the children are 21 years old. If something changes in the meantime that affects your ability to pay, the child support can also be adjusted accordingly. You can think of losing your job, earning more, a different contact arrangement or getting married again. These are all reasons to review the alimony. Our experienced lawyers can make an independent recalculation in such situations. Another solution is to call in a mediator to come to new agreements together. The experienced mediators at our firm can help you with this as well.
Children usually go and live with one of their parents after a divorce. But it can also be different. If both parents choose for co-parenting, the children live alternately with both parents. Co-parenting is when parents more or less equally divide the care and upbringing tasks after the divorce. The children then live as it were with their father as well as with their mother.
Good consultation is important
Parents considering a co-parenting scheme should bear in mind that they need to communicate with each other on a regular basis. That is why it is important that they are able to consult with each other even after the divorce, so that communication can go smoothly.
Children spend about as much time with one parent as with another in this form of parenthood. This is usually very pleasant for the children. With this form of parenting, both parents get a lot out of the daily life of the child. That is also a big advantage.
Before parents can start co-parenting, they need to agree on a number of practical and financial issues. Agreements about these can be included in the parenting plan.
Care distribution does not have to be exactly 50/50
In practice, co-parenting is often an almost equal distribution of care. For example, children are three days with one parent and four days with the other parent. It is therefore not required that the distribution of care is exactly 50/50. It is important that parents look at what is real. This means that a 30/70 division can also be regarded as a co-parenting arrangement.
Distribution of costs
The co-parenting scheme is not regulated by law. In principle, parents make their own agreements about which costs they share and which they do not. A distinction can be made between own costs and costs to be shared. Own costs are defined as the costs that each household incurs for itself. Examples are rent, telephone and groceries. Costs to be shared may include the costs incurred by one parent on behalf of the children. For example: insurances, subscriptions, contributions or school fees.
Co-parenting and alimony
It is often thought that no alimony has to be paid in case of co-parenting. This thought is wrong. In co-parenting both parents have about the same costs for the children. If one of the parents has a higher income than the other, they can bear the costs of the children more easily. The person with the highest income is then expected to still pay some child support to the other parent. For this purpose, an alimony calculation can be made by one of our experienced family law lawyers. The parents can also agree on this together. Another possibility is to open a children’s account. To this account, the parents can make a pro rata monthly payment and, for example, the child benefit. Subsequently, the expenses for the children of this account can be made.
Are you planning to get a divorce and do you want to arrange everything as well as possible for your children? Or do you still have problems with child support or co-parenting after the divorce? Do not hesitate to contact the lawyers of Law & More. We will be happy to advise and guide you.