Definition: How much, how to calculate and who is helping you


Child support - how much, how to calculate and who helps?

After the separation or divorce of their parents, children living in Germany can claim to child support (Kindesunterhalt). Its amount is to be calculated after the Duesseldorf table (Düsseldorfer Tabelle). Children under 18 years of age, and children up to 21 years of age attending school, can always claim to child support. It is to be paid by the parent the child/ren is not living at. Child benefit (Kindergeld) is a benefit by the state. It is limited up to 250 EUR a month per every child and paid to the parents until the children’s 18th birthday, afterwards it is paid directly to the child. Child benefit reduces the amount of child support.

Quick entry

  • The amount of child support depends on the relevant income. This income does not correspond to any number on the payslips.
  • The formulas for calculating child support for minor and major aged children are different. It depends for major aged children where they live, if they have finished their studies yet and more.
  • There are pros and cons in having child support calculate by an attorney or by the youth welfare office (Jugendamt) each. If you believe the youth welfare office sent you a wrong calculation, in most of the cases you can only have it correct by the help of an attorney.

Which children can claim to receive child support?

A child can claim to child support in Germany if it matches one of the following conditions:

  • Minor aged children who attend school – the marital status of its parents does not matter in here, neither whether the child has been adopted
  • Major aged children up to 21 years of age who attend school, do an apprenticeship or study AND live seperatedly from one parent
  • Major aged children older than 21 years who have not finished their study or apprenticeship yet without fault
  • Mentally challenged children

Who owes child support?

Child support has to be paid by the parent the child/ren is not living at. Child support is given by both parents though – the other one is the caregiving parent spending his or her support by giving food, house and clothes.

This said, the parent with a higher income is not automatically the one who owes child support. The child can also live at the house of the more wealthy parent while the parent of lesser income owes child support in money. If the caregiving parent is of a three times higher income than the other one, the child support owned by the other parent can be reduced.


The cash owing parent can though pay child support only if he or she can ensure his or her lifelihood (Selbstbehalt). If one’s relevant income is lower than

  • 1.120 EUR if one is unemployed resp.
  • 1.370 EUR if one is employed,

the child support does not need to be paid. Employed persons are allowed to keep more money for their personal needs, as motivation to go on with their jobs.

How much child support for children in Germany?

One’s relevant income though does not refer to any number on your payslips (Bruttoeinkommen/Nettoeinkommen). Instead, this factor has to be determinated before you can tell how much child support has to be paid. It is corresponding to your total salary (plus revenues of rent, sales etc.) minus

  • taxes,
  • social insurance contributions,
  • debts (depends on what kind),
  • old-age provision
  • and more.

Amount of child support defined by Duesseldorf table

Knowing the relevant income, you now have a look on the Duesseldorf table (Düsseldorfer Tabelle). In there you find recognized recommendations how much child benefit has to be paid for children of different age groups.

By what can the child support be reduced?

  • The total child support is reduced by the child benefit (Kindergeld). This is a state’s benefit and limited up to 250 EUR a month per every child. Child benefit reduces the amount of child support by 125 EUR (for minor aged children) resp. by 250 EUR (for major aged children).
  • If the caregiving parent marries to a new partner who adopts the child, the divorced partner does not owe child support any longer.
  • If your adult child finishes his or her studies or apprenticeship, normally there is no need for support anymore. There can be exceptions, for example, if a child plans to do a Master degree that is consecutive to the Bachelor degree.

If you still cannot pay the full amount for one or more children

If the cash owing parent can not pay his share of child support full or at all, the youth welfare office (Jugendamt) can make advance payments (Unterhaltsvorschuss) to children under 18 years. An application is needed for that. The youth welfare office will check the financial situation of the cash owing parent, too. In most of the cases, this parent will need to pay the money back to the Jugendamt.


If a parent owes child or spousal support to more than just one person, the law tells a hierarchy of 7 ranks saying who is to be supported first:

  1. Children under 18 years of age, and children up to 21 years of age attending school
  2. Childcaregiving ex-partners or ex-partners after a long marriage
  3. All other ex-partners
  4. All other major aged children
  5. Grand children
  6. Parents
  7. Grand-parents

If there are children of an equal rank, the remaining money is equally divided among them.

Having child support calculate by Jugendamt or by an attorney?

As you could read, in Germany the Jugendamt can represent children’s rights to claim to child support. But not everyone wants this office to do so, may due a

  • language barrier,
  • personal experiences or
  • due to other reasons.

As everything in life, there are here some pros and cons for both alternatives – having child support calculated by the Jugendamt or an attorney.


On the basis of which criteria can both services be compared?


Costs is a benefit of the Jugendamt. Actually. It is true that the Jugendamt does not charge the child or the representing parent for their work, no matter if you own a million EUR or just 1 EUR.


The thing is: The one owning just this 1 EUR does not have to pay anything for an attorney’s service either. Parents of less income can apply for a special legal aid (Beratungshilfe) to get themselves helped by an attorney’s service. The application is to be done at your local court (Amtsgericht).


Since everyone gets a free service by the Jugendamt – it takes a while until your file is through. Of course, also an attorney could be slow.


The thing is: You can easily change your choosen attorney. But unless you move out of your district, you cannot change the Jugendamt

Doublecheck – how to handle a wrong child support calculation?

If you have a feeling, or you even clearly see, that the calculation of the Jugendamt might be wrong, who is helping you? There is no doublecheck inside the Jugendamt.


Most people object to the calculation, reasoning it out and sending another calculation to the Jugendamt, operated by an attorney. If there still is no agreement after that, the file gets to the court. The cash owing parent then anyway needs an attorney, and it might be good then if one already got one.

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Let’s get on – what’s next?

You might have a reason for reading our article about child support in Germany. If you want to have child support calculate by our Alimony Service, go ahead. Be it

  • just out of interest, for a future divorcement or separation,
  • because you want to settle a private agreement or
  • because you got a payment request by an attorney or the youth welfare office, and want to object or at least have it doublechecked.

Please find our form for the necessary information here to fill in online or print. You will not be charged yet by just sending the PDF file to us ( After we received your mail or e-mail, we will get in touch with you to answer your questions and inform you about the cost for a legally reliable child support calculation.


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