Maintenance is an obligation for parents and an essential right of children. However, it is the proportionality between the needs of the children, the income of the parent and the specific circumstances of the person who is to pay the maintenance that should determine the amount of maintenance.
On more than a few occasions, courts have been reluctant to reduce the amount of maintenance for one of the parents without taking sufficient account of the fact that their circumstances and income can vary, sometimes drastically.
While it is true that, even if the income of the parents varies, the right of the children remains the same: that their parents are responsible for their maintenance and that the needs involved in that maintenance are not going to change because the financial means of the parents has changed, it is also true that in all periods of life, one may not receive the same amount.
What should then take precedence: the amount initially set, which was considered fair and necessary to ensure the maintenance of the children, or the reduction in income that makes it difficult or even impossible to provide this amount?
Until recently, judges did not seem to agree and while some were more inclined to reduce the amount of maintenance when the circumstances of the parent changed, others opted to reject the claim to reduce maintenance, considering that the needs of the children were the same and, in view of this, there was little that could be done.
A Supreme Court ruling has, once again, clarified the criteria to be followed and, thus, has placed special emphasis on the fact that “the best interests of the child are based, among other things, on the right to be fed and on the obligation of the holders of parental authority to do so (…) in accordance with the economic circumstances and needs of the children at any given time (…) and in proportion to the wealth or means of the giver and the needs of the recipient”.
Therefore, if the parent documents the disproportionality of the amount of maintenance in relation to his or her income, it is possible to review that amount, which must be modified in the same way as “his/her income increases or decreases”.
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