Child Support: Calculating Alimony Correctly

Payment of child support is an important guarantee for the financial security of the child, which is why its calculation must be done carefully. But who determines the amount of the so-called alimony in the event of a separation or divorce, and how is it calculated? In this article, we explain the basic principles of child support calculation so that you can better understand it and get an overview of how much money you or your child are entitled to.

At a Glance

  • The final amount of child support is decided by the court in the event of a divorce or separation.
  • For this, both parents submit various documents to the court detailing their personal and financial situation as well as their share of custody.
  • Child support is usually paid at least until the child reaches 18 years of age.

Calculation of Child Support: General Information and Legal Situation

The calculation of alimony (child support) depends on many factors, which is why in the event of a divorce in Switzerland, a court makes the final decision on its amount (Art. 133 CC). Therefore, it is not easy for laypeople, almost impossible, to determine the exact extent of these payments on their own. When calculating alimony, the court considers several factors:

  • dhe needs of the child
  • the income, expenses, and employment status of the obligated parent (Article 285 CC)

To calculate alimony, the amounts related to the needs of the child and the income of the obligated parent are the most important factors. To determine the child's needs, you can first refer to the Zurich Child Cost Table. This is a statistical grid used to determine the annual costs for the maintenance of a child according to age. However, these fees may vary depending on the canton. Regarding the income of the obligated parent, the rule is: the higher their standard of living, the higher the maintenance contribution.

What Is the Definition of Child Support?

According to Article 176 CC, child support in Switzerland includes three areas:

  • The care and upbringing of the child
  • The education of the child
  • Cash payments for education, care, and living expenses of the child

Generally, both parents are equally responsible for ensuring adequate child support. If you are married, the obligation for child support exists according to matrimonial law (Art. 278 CC). However, if family circumstances and the division of parental responsibility change due to divorce or separation, these responsibilities are usually reallocated. In divorces by mutual consent, parents usually agree among themselves on how parental care and custody will be regulated from now on and how much maintenance payments will be. In contested divorces, these questions are assessed by the divorce court and in the best interests of the child (Article 133 CC).

Who Pays Child Support?

The obligation to provide support to a child exists until they reach the age of majority or until they complete their first vocational training (Art. 277 CC). If the parents live separately during this period, the parent not primarily responsible for the child's care (custody) is obligated to make maintenance payments. In cases of joint custody and alternating parental care, the respective caregiving shares of both parents are taken into account when calculating alimony (Art. 276 paragraphs 1 and 2 CC). However, if, for example, only the mother has custody, the father cannot validly claim caregiving time for the purpose of alimony – only cash payments apply. If maintenance is not paid, you can initiate debt collection proceedings with the cantonal authorities or consult a family law attorney. The latter can also grant maintenance advances while debt collection proceedings are initiated (Art. 290 CC).

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How is Alimony Calculated?

In Switzerland, unlike other European countries, it is very difficult to calculate the correct maintenance contribution for your child or children. This is a complex calculation that requires consideration of many criteria and numerous documents. Since 2017, alimony consists of two parts: the cash support (regular child support) and the care support. The latter is intended to compensate for any loss of earnings of the custodial parent due to childcare.

The amount of alimony depends on the actual financial situation of the parents, the expenses and incomes of the parent with custody and the obligated parent, their caregiving shares, and also the needs and assets of the child.

How Much is the Maintenance Amount per Child?

Ideally, the amount of alimony should range between 15% and 17% of the net income of the parent not primarily caring for the child. For two children, it increases to a range of 25% to 27%, and for three children, it ranges from 30% to 35%. However, the amounts vary depending on the parents' situation and are also staggered by age groups.

According to the Zurich Child Cost Table, for example, the monthly maintenance contribution for a 14-year-old child in 2020 averaged 1765 Swiss francs per month. This includes costs for accommodation (565 CHF), meals (350 CHF), clothing (125 CHF), health insurance (115 CHF), and other additional costs (610 CHF). The calculation also takes into account the level of inflation based on the national consumer price index determined by the Federal Statistical Office. When a court determines the amount of alimony, it also considers the level of the consumer price index determined by the Federal Statistical Office.

Reassessment of Maintenance Calculation

The amount of maintenance is determined at the time of divorce or separation. However, this amount can be adjusted depending on the respective situation and living conditions of the parents (Art. 134 CC).

If the parents' living conditions or the child's needs change significantly, the maintenance amount can be appropriately increased or decreased. This reassessment can be agreed upon amicably between the two parents or decided by a court. For example, a reallocation of parental custody or a loss of income by one parent can be the basis for a recalculation of maintenance.

If the child has an extraordinary need (e.g., medical care) that was not taken into account in the initial calculation, the maintenance can also be reassessed.

Questions about alimony?

Your partner does not pay alimony for the shared children? Or do you have other concerns about alimony?

I am happy to advise you personally.



Dominic Rogger

Attorney at Law, lic. iur., LL.M.

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FAQ: Calculating Alimony

The calculation of child support is complex and requires a court decision. The latter is based on three main criteria: the needs of the child, determined using the Zurich Child Support Cost Table, the income and living expenses of the custodial parent, and the income of the non-custodial parent.

In general, it is not entirely possible for a layperson to determine the amount of child support per child on their own. The calculation requires consideration of many factors and must be supported by numerous documents. A family law attorney can assist you in determining the amount for a proposal that will subsequently be decided upon by a court.

The obligation to support a child lasts until they reach the age of majority, i.e., until they turn 18. However, if the child has not completed their education by this age, support payments must be extended until the completion of their initial education.

If you are not receiving child support payments, you are entitled to initiate debt enforcement proceedings. The application should be directed to the debt enforcement office at the debtor's place of residence. In such a case, the person entitled to child support can also apply for state assistance to recover the outstanding amounts and receive financial support during this period.

Child support, i.e., monthly payments for child maintenance, is received by the person who has custody and primary care of the shared child. Child support is intended to ensure the financial security of the child and provide compensation for the custodial parent. The right to child support is not contingent on whether the parents were married or not.

Child support is financial assistance that is meant to cover various aspects related to parental care for the child. Child support should primarily cover the living expenses for the child (care, nutrition, clothing, housing, education, leisure, health insurance). However, it should also compensate for the financial loss resulting from childcare and any resulting incapacity for work.

Yes, the support payment can be both increased and decreased retroactively. This reassessment can be done by mutual agreement between the parents or decided by a court. Typically, changes in the standard of living of a parent or in the needs of the child lead to an adjustment in child support. The amount of child support can also change due to inflation.

Federal Law

Articles of Law

Duration of the Maintenance Obligation (Art. 277 CC)

Maintenance during Marriage (Art. 278 CC)

Calculation of the Maintenance Contribution (Art. 285 CC)

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