Child maintenance and coming of age – when should I cease paying?

Child maintenance is about providing for a child’s living costs and education. Its legal reasoning does not allow for it to be extended indefinitely nor to end it too soon. In Spain, the fact that children turn 18 years old is not a reason to automatically put an end to child maintenance. Parents are expected to continue paying child maintenance if the children are studying at university for example or they are not financially independent.

Upon the breakdown of a relationship, each parent must contribute to the maintenance of their children in accordance with their financial and personal circumstances, making sure the children’s needs are covered, including any extraordinary expenses.

As a general rule, child maintenance shall end when the child achieves his or her financial independence. However, if the child of age is acting with laziness, slackness, neglect or indifference, the parent paying child maintenance can apply to the court for it to be extinguished as Judges do not consider fair nor adequate to promote these attitudes. Particularly, the Spanish Supreme Court has declared on several occasions that it is possible to extinguish their maintenance when they do not study nor work. In accordance with article 152.4 of the Spanish Civil Code (SCC), the obligation to pay child maintenance will end if the creditor’s needs are caused by his or her own misconduct. Moreover, article 142 of the SCC establishes that when a child turns 18 years old, the obligation to pay him or her maintenance will remain unless his or her misconduct is the cause of the end of their studies.

On the contrary, disabled children of age will receive child maintenance for as long as they live in the family home and they lack his or her own means.

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