German child support laws govern how much child support a noncustodial parent must pay to the custodial parent of a German child. Germany has similar laws to the United States, but there are some important differences regarding duration of child support and the procedure used to establish child support. In addition, Germany has laws governing child support when one or both parents is a U.S. citizen living in Germany or one parent chooses to return to the United States after a divorce.
Unlike in America, where parents can use mediation to come to an amicable agreement, Germany requires all child support agreements to be entered through the court system. Divorcing parents must go to court and abide by its decision regarding child support.
Duration of Child Support
In Germany, child support lasts until the child finishes his "first fundamental education." This can be either high school or college, depending on the child's educational needs and desires. If a child goes to college directly from high school, the parent may be liable to pay child support until the child is 25 years old—the average age at which a child finishes college in Germany.
Determination of Child Support
Monthly child support amounts are based on the child's needs and the parents' income. However, if a custodial parent has a child under a certain age, German law states that that parent may elect to stay home with the child, reducing her income to zero. In this case, the noncustodial parent will be required to pay higher child support and alimony payments than he would if the custodial parent were working.
Germany and Parents From the United States
Germany has reciprocal agreements with all but 5 states in the United States. This means that if a noncustodial parent of a German child resides in the United States, the custodial parent can petition the German government to enforce a child support order unless the noncustodial parent resides in South Carolina, Alabama, Maine, Mississippi or the District of Columbia. Similarly, if the noncustodial parent lives in Germany and the custodial parent in the United States, the custodial parent can ask the U.S. government to enforce a child support order overseas.
Under German law, if both parents and the child have lived in Germany for three years before the divorce, the divorce is a German matter; child support would therefore be applicable to German laws rather than U.S. laws in such a case.