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Divorce and maintenance contributions

Maintenance of ex-spouse

After a divorce your ex-husband or wife is normally expected to support him or herself.

Criteria for maintenance contributions

Depending on how long you were married and the division of duties in the marriage, your age, health, level of education, career prospects and ability of your ex-spouse to earn a living, you may have to continue to support them financially, at least for a certain period.

Calculation of maintenance contributions

The court decides on the size of the maintenance contributions based on:

  • The income of the two individuals: how much each person earns (if the income of the person owing maintenance is over the minimum subsistence level),
  • Financial needs: rent, health insurance, clothes, food, etc. 

An agreement is drawn up by the ex-spouses or the court, which is then examined and approved by the court.

Child maintenance payments

Parents continue to be responsible for supporting their children financially after a divorce. This responsibility ends at the earliest when the child reaches the age of majority or completes a first level of education and training that allows it to start work.
The size of the maintenance contributions should reflect the needs of the child, although they must not exceed the means of the person paying maintenance and drive them below the minimum subsistence level.

For information on how maintenance contributions are calculated, contact a judicial authority or a lawyer.

Living conditions

  • If the children live primarily with you, you are responsible for bringing them up and contribute in this way to their maintenance.
  • If the children do not live with you, you must pay monthly maintenance contributions as long as your income is over the minimum subsistence level. The amount of time you spend looking after the children is considered in the calculation of the maintenance contributions

If maintenance is not paid

If your ex-husband or wife neglects their maintenance obligations:

  • The cantons are required to provide a free service to help the person entitled to maintenance to recover the payments. In addition, all cantons will, under certain conditions, make advanced payments to tide you over until the amount is paid.
  • In certain circumstances you can apply to the court for a debt recovery order to have the outstanding contribution taken directly from the salary of your ex-husband or wife and transferred to you.
  • If you are owed maintenance payments you can initiate debt recovery proceedings at the credit agency of the person owing contributions.

You can also initiate criminal proceedings against the person who neglects their maintenance obligations even though they were in a position to pay maintenance.

Maintenance recovery assistance and advanced payments – contact the relevant authority

Debt recovery and criminal proceedings – information and contact details of the competent court

The courts are organised differently from canton to canton. Ask your canton’s judicial authority or a lawyer if you are not sure which court to contact.

Initiate debt recovery proceedings – find the competent credit agency

Depends on the place of residence of the person owing maintenance

Information on the revision of the law on maintenance contributions