How long must child support be paid?

The payment of child support is a common source of conflict between former spouses, as well as divorce cases involving a Spaniard and a foreigner in Spain. There are several aspects that may provoke disputes, or at the very least questions by one of the parties involved, so it is worthwhile to explore the existing legal basis in this regard before starting to evaluate any specific case.

Today we’re going to analyze one such aspect: when does the obligation to pay child support end? Does this responsibility cease once the children legally reach adulthood? What other criteria may exist? To begin to unravel these questions, we can refer to the Spanish Civil Code, which addresses child support in book I, title VI.

Its provisions do not establish a time criterion for the termination of the benefit, so it follows that it must be provided as long as the recipient is not financially self-sufficient. Therefore, turning 18 is irrelevant in this regard. However, article 152 includes other possible reasons for the cessation of this obligation, in addition to the aforementioned financial independence criterion.

In addition to the hypothetical death of the recipient or the possibility of a situation in which the parent lacks the financial ability to make the payments, there are two criteria directly linked to the child support recipient which may be subject to interpretation.

The first is the commission of “any offense giving rise to disinheritance”, and the second is the case that their needs arise from “bad conduct or lack of application at work”. Thus, a door is left open for the parent to request the cessation of the child support, although it requires going to court to prove that one of the established conditions is met.

In recent years, there have been several rulings in favor of parents requesting the cessation of child support, generally in situations in which it is evident that the child is not studying or working (and has sufficient income), nor are they actively seeking employment.

If you’re facing any problem related to a parent’s responsibilities to their children, at ICN LEGAL you can access extremely thorough family legal services. In addition, given the international experience of our team, we are specially trained to respond to any peculiarity that may arise in cases derived from a divorce involving a Spaniard and a foreigner in Spain, or another similar situation.

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