I already have a court judgment – will the amount of support change?
v all children who are entitled to receive support in the amount of 292 euros per month in 2021 pursuant to a court decision will continue to receive the same amount per month;
v for all children who are entitled to receive support in the annually variable amount of more or less than 292 euros per month in 2021 (for example, 25% of the minimum monthly wage or twice the statutory minimum support) pursuant to the court decision, the amount will continue to change based on the change in the minimum monthly wage;
v all children who are entitled to receive support in a fixed amount (for example, 200 or 500 euros a month) pursuant to the court decision will continue to receive the same amount.
I have a notarial agreement with the other parent concerning the amount of support. What will happen to that?
If the support is fixed in a notarial agreement, then the amount will not change in the new year. If the support is agreed upon as a variable amount in the notarial agreement (related to the minimum monthly wage or the statutory minimum support), then, unlike the amounts set by court decisions, these amounts will change based on the change of the minimum monthly wage from 1 January 2022. In 2022, half of the minimum monthly wage will be 327 euros.
If enforcement proceedings have been instituted under such an agreement, the obligated parent (obligor) can issue a court claim for the declaration of inadmissibility based on the partial or total cancellation of the maintenance arrangement.
Why is the amount of support not automatically reduced for previous support decisions?
Making new decisions automatically in previous support cases or automatically changing the amounts of supports of previous decisions would be contrary to the principle of res judicata. There is no reason to assume that the needs of the child or the parent’s ability to pay the support ordered by the court have also changed due to the change in the amount of the statutory minimum support.
If the court has previously ordered the payment of support for the child, then all the circumstances of the case must be re-examined to determine what amount of support would be justified in the light of the new legislation and would meet the needs of that child. Such decisions cannot be made automatically.
The implementing provision of the draft decision of support was a compromise between many parties of conflicting interests and without it, the draft would most likely not have been accepted.
Examples of supports ordered before 1 January 2022:
v Order parent B to pay monthly support in the amount of 132 euros per month to child X from 1 December 2020, but not less than 45% of the statutory minimum amount of support per month until the child X is an adult. – The amount of support will remain linked to the minimum monthly wage established by the Estonian Government and will continue to change as this rate changes. For example, in 2022, the new amount of support in this case will be 147.15 euros per month (45% of half of the minimum monthly wage, which, in 2022, will be 654 euros per month).
v Order parent C to pay support in the amount which corresponds to the minimum monthly wage established by the Government of the Republic to child X from 1 March 2021 until the child X is an adult. – The amount of support will remain at 292 euros from 1 January 2022 onwards and will no longer depend on changes in the minimum monthly wage.
v Order parent D to pay monthly support in the amount of 270 euros for the maintenance of child X, but not less than the minimum support established in the Republic of Estonia until the child X is an adult. – The amount of support will remain at 292 euros from 1 January 2022 onwards and will no longer depend on changes in the minimum monthly wage.
v Order parent E to pay monthly support for child X from 1 June 2020 until the child X is an adult pursuant to subsection 101 (1) of the Family Law Act – The amount of support will be 292 euros per month from 1 January 2022 onwards and will no longer depend on changes in the minimum monthly wage. Although the amount of support is connected to a specific section of the Family Law Act which sets a minimum level of support and which changes on 1 January 2022, the law in force at the time of the court decision must be followed, because the court did not know at the time of the decision whether and how this provision would change in the future. However, the attached implementing provision will apply with the amendments to the law, which stipulates that if, pursuant to a court decision made before 1 January 2022, a parent is obliged to pay support to a minor child in the amount of up to the statutory minimum or half of the minimum wage per month, then from 1 January 2022, the parent is obliged to pay support of 292 euros per month pursuant to the court decision.
v Order parent F to pay monthly support for the maintenance of child X from 1 August 2020 until the child X is an adult, at the minimum rate provided in subsection 101 (1) of the Family Law Act (i.e. half of the minimum monthly wage established by the Government of the Republic – 292 euros from 1 January 2020). The defendant has the right to deduct in advance 50% of the monthly child allowance paid to the plaintiff based on section 17 of the Family Benefits Act (the full amount of child allowance in 2019 is 60 euros per month) from the monthly support payable to the plaintiff. The amount of support will remain at 292 euros from 1 January 2022 onwards and will no longer depend on changes in the minimum monthly wage. However, this amount depends on the change in the child allowance rate.
I have been ordered to pay a higher amount of support than the calculator shows that I should pay according to the new formula. What should I do?
The amount of support calculated based on the average gross monthly wage is the minimum amount that a parent must pay to their child on a monthly basis. The actual amount of support depends primarily on the needs of the child, but also on the financial situation of each parent and the distribution of the children’s costs between the parents. Therefore, the actual amount may be higher than the calculated amount. However, if the child or one of the parents does not agree with the amount of support sentenced before 1 January 2022, it is possible to go to a court to change the amount of support based on a change in the legal situation. However, in court proceedings, the court will not only proceed from the result of the calculator, but also consider all the circumstances as a whole, including the actual needs of the child.
The income of the obligated parent is lower than the average gross salary in Estonia. Why can I not enter it into the calculator?
It is not possible to enter an amount lower than the Estonian average gross monthly salary in the calculator, as the average gross monthly salary is the basis for calculating the minimum support and the court can only sentence smaller support for a good reason, for example if the obligated parent is incapacitated for work or their other children are financially disadvantaged. According to the Family Law Act, low income is not the basis for reducing the minimum support.
When is the allowance for families with many children considered?
Pursuant to the amendments to the law, a parent need not provide maintenance to the extent that the needs of a child can be satisfied on account of the child allowance and the allowance for families with many children.
The allowance for families with many children is considered in the calculator only if it is received for the joint children of the parent who is claiming and the parent who is obligated to pay the support. This means that if the family receives allowance for families with many children because there are also another partner’s children in the family, then the allowance for families with many children is not deducted from the support.
Why can I not calculate support for older children, for example those who are studying at a vocational school?
The procedure for minimum support is intended only for minor children. Starting from when the child turns 18, the general criteria for determining support (the standard of living and the possibilities for the obligated person to provide support) apply and there is no fixed minimum amount. Therefore, it is not reflected in the calculator.
I must pay support to several children living in different families. How do I calculate it?
When children are growing up in different families, then the person simply must add these amounts together – the support of the children of one family can be calculated together. In such a situation, the amount of support is not reduced from the second child either, as there will be no savings from raising several children at the same time.
Can the parents also agree on other amounts?
The draft establishes a formula for calculating the minimum amount of support. Under the new regulation, parents can still agree on or the court may order the payment of a larger amount of support if the child’s needs and/or the obligated parent’s income are higher. Support in an amount smaller than the new minimum can be ordered by the court only in exceptional cases, for example in the event of the obligated parent’s incapacity for work or if the obligated parent’s other children would be in a worse situation than the children receiving support.
Should I choose a mutual agreement or a court judgment?
The Family Law Act stipulates that Parents may specify, by mutual agreement, the performance of the obligation to maintain their child and determine in which manner and after which period of time maintenance shall be provided. An agreement does not preclude or restrict assertion of a claim arising from law, taking account of the provisions of the agreement. Therefore, the parent mainly raising the child has the right to go to court regardless of the agreement. The court proceedings determine the costs and needs of the child and the parent’s ability to pay the support.
The other parent does not allow me to contact the child, why do I have to pay support?
The Family Law Act provides that parents have equal rights and obligations with respect to their children unless otherwise provided by the law. Parents have the obligation and right to care for their minor child. If parents who have joint right of custody live permanently apart or do not wish to exercise the right of joint custody any further for any other reason, each parent has the right to request from a court in proceedings on petition that the right of custody of the child be partially or fully transferred to him or her (subsection 137 (1) of the Family Law Act).
Regardless of the right of custody, both parents have the right to contact the child. Subsection 143 (1) of the Family Law Act prescribes that a child has the right maintain personal contact with both parents. Both parents have the obligation and right to maintain personal contact with their child. Pursuant to subsection (2) of the same section, a parent shall refrain from any action which is harmful to the relationship between the child and the other parent or which hinders raising of the child. If you are not allowed to contact your child, you should go to court to determine the procedure for communicating with the child, but this is not grounds for not paying support. A child has the right to receive support from their parents, regardless of the right of custody or the procedure for meeting the child.