Child support and child maintenance allowance in Finland

Elatusapu ja -tuki Suomessa
In this section you will find information on child support and child maintenance allowance in Finland.

In international situations, the legislation of the country where the child lives is applied for the purposes of child support.

The child’s right to receive maintenance from his/her parents ends when he/she reaches the age of 18. Parents are also responsible for the child’s education-related expenses after the child has turned 18 if this is considered reasonable. 

Child support can be confirmed to be paid if a parent does not otherwise take care of the child’s maintenance, if the child does not live permanently with his/her parents or if the child lives alternately with his/her parents or other guardian. The amount of child support and the method of payment are confirmed by agreement or by a court.

Child maintenance allowance helps to safeguard the child’s maintenance in situations where the child does not receive maintenance from both parents. If the parent liable for maintenance has neglected to pay child support, you are entitled to child maintenance allowance. You are also entitled to child maintenance allowance if child support has not been confirmed to be paid due to the parent liable being unable to provide maintenance or if, due the parent liable being unable to provide maintenance, the confirmed amount of child support is lower than the amount of child maintenance allowance. Enforcement of child maintenance allowance is the responsibility of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).

The child must live permanently in Finland for child maintenance allowance to be paid by Kela. Child maintenance allowance can also be paid if one of the parents is an EU employee working in Finland and the child lives in Finland with him/her (EU Regulation 492/2011).

What is child maintenance allowance?

Who pays it and who to?

The Social Insurance Institution of Finland pays child maintenance allowance to the child’s parent or other person caring for the child. The allowance can also be paid to a child over the age of 15 him/herself.

How do you make an agreement?

The Social Insurance Institution of Finland checks entitlement to child maintenance allowance based on your application. Child support must have been confirmed either by a maintenance agreement or by a court decision. If you apply for child maintenance allowance on the basis of neglected payment of child support, the parent liable for maintenance is also consulted. Child maintenance allowance can also exceptionally be granted without consulting the parent liable for maintenance if his/her whereabouts are unknown.

How much is paid?

Child maintenance allowance is paid either in full or at a reduced rate. The full amount of the child maintenance allowance is €167.01 per month.

Child maintenance allowance is paid in full if child support has been confirmed to be at least as much as full child maintenance allowance and the parent liable is not paying the child support.

If the amount of child support has been confirmed to be lower than the full amount of child maintenance allowance due to the financial situation of the parent liable for maintenance, the amount of the allowance paid is the difference between full child maintenance allowance and the amount of child support.

Where child maintenance allowance is paid on the basis of neglected payment of child support and the confirmed amount of child support is lower than the full amount of child maintenance allowance for a reason other than the inability to pay of the parent liable, the amount of the allowance paid is only the confirmed amount of child support.

If the paternity of a child born outside of wedlock has not been confirmed and the child does not have two parents liable for maintenance, if an adoptive parent has adopted a child alone or if child support could not be confirmed at the same time as confirmation of parentage, the child maintenance allowance is paid in full.

How long is child maintenance allowance paid for?

Child maintenance allowance is payable up to the time when the child reaches the age of 18. Payment may end earlier if maintenance liability ends or if the other liability criteria are no longer met.

Child maintenance allowance if you live with the child

How do you apply for child maintenance allowance?

Child maintenance allowance is applied for in writing from the Social Insurance Institution. Attach your maintenance agreement or court order to the application. If you have adopted a child alone or the paternity of a child born outside of wedlock could not be confirmed, no maintenance agreement or court decision is needed.

If one of the parents lives in another Nordic country

If the parents live in different Nordic countries, but the child lives in Finland with one parent, maintenance is subject to Finnish legislation.

If one of the parents lives outside the Nordic countries

If the criteria for receiving child maintenance allowance are otherwise met, child maintenance allowance can be paid even if the parent liable for maintenance does not live in Finland. If the child has two parents liable for maintenance, you need a maintenance agreement or court order to apply for child maintenance allowance.

If a parent liable for maintenance who lives abroad does not paid the confirmed child support, the Social Insurance Institution can grant child maintenance allowance and recover the unpaid child support from the parent living abroad.

If the Social Security Institution does not pay you child maintenance allowance, unpaid child support cannot be recovered from abroad. Then you must contact the central authorities in your country of residence. The central authority in Finland is the Ministry of Justice.

If you move to another Nordic country

In order to get child maintenance allowance in Finland, the child must live in Finland permanently.

The allowance can be paid temporarily, for a maximum of 6 months, for a child resident abroad, if the child is nonetheless considered to live permanently in Finland.

If the stay abroad lasts over six months, your right to child maintenance allowance ends when you move away from Finland.

If the other parent moves to another Nordic country

The parent paying child support is liable to pay child support regardless of what country the child lives in. Liability to pay maintenance does not end, therefore, even if the child and the parent liable for maintenance live in different countries.

If the other parent does not pay

If the parent liable for maintenance does not pay the confirmed child support, you can get child maintenance allowance from the Social Insurance Institution. The parents must have a maintenance agreement confirmed by the municipal social services or a court decision regarding child support.

Child support can also be confirmed based on a decision, agreement or other document issued abroad. When child support is granted, the child support document confirmed abroad is considered equivalent to a Finnish child support agreement or court order, if the document issued abroad is enforceable either in Finland or in the country of residence of the parent liable for maintenance.

If a parent is granted child maintenance allowance on the basis of neglected child support, the Social Insurance Institution recovers all unpaid child support payments from the parent liable for maintenance and thereafter the amounts falling due each month.

If you want to appeal

If you think the decision regarding child maintenance allowance is incorrect, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Board. The decision of the Social Security Appeal Board can be appealed to the Insurance Court, which is the final appeal stage.

Child support for parents who do not live with the child

If the other parent lives in another Nordic country

The child must live permanently in Finland for child maintenance allowance to be paid by Kela.

The parent paying child support is nonetheless liable to pay child support regardless of which country the child lives in. Liability to pay maintenance does not end, therefore, even if the child and the parent liable for maintenance live in different countries.

If necessary, the parent living with the child can apply for child maintenance allowance in accordance with the rules of their country of residence.

If the other parent lives outside the Nordic countries

The child must live permanently in Finland for child maintenance allowance to be paid by Kela.

The parent paying child support is nonetheless liable to pay child support regardless of which country the child lives in. Liability to pay maintenance does not end, therefore, even if the child and the parent liable for maintenance live in different countries.

If necessary, the parent living with the child can apply for child maintenance allowance in accordance with the rules of their country of residence.

If you move to another Nordic country

If the parent liable for maintenance moves to another Nordic country, this does not affect payment of child maintenance allowance in Finland if the child still lives permanently in Finland.

The child is entitled to maintenance from both parents, i.e. liability to pay maintenance does not end even if the parent liable for maintenance moves to another Nordic country.

Unpaid child support is recovered from the parent liable for maintenance, even when the parent is abroad.

If the other parent moves to another Nordic country

If the child and the parent receiving child maintenance allowance move to another Nordic country and the stay abroad lasts over 6 months, entitlement to maintenance from Finland ends. Liability for maintenance does not end, however.

Nor does termination of the allowance suspend or end recovery of unpaid child support up till that date. So even if the allowance is terminated, the parent liable for maintenance must pay the Social Insurance Institution child support amounts falling due up to the termination date.

If you can’t pay

If you do not pay the child the confirmed child support, the Social Insurance Institution can grant child maintenance allowance in order to secure sufficient maintenance for the child. If child maintenance allowance is granted, the Social Insurance Institution recovers all unpaid child support amounts from you and thereafter the amounts falling due each month.

If you cannot pay the unpaid child support all at once, you can negotiate a payment schedule with Kela’s Overpayment Recovery Centre or apply for exemption from payment of the unpaid child support. If you do not contact the Overpayment Recovery Centre and do not pay the unpaid amounts, they are passed on for debt enforcement. If voluntary recovery is unsuccessful, also when unpaid child support amounts are recovered from abroad, the Social Insurance Institution will seek to recover the child support amounts through the courts in the country concerned.

Tax credit

In Finland you can get a tax credit due to a maintenance obligation if you pay child support for your child. There must be an agreement or court decision regarding the child support. The Finnish Tax Administration is responsible for questions about taxation.

If you want to appeal

A parent liable for maintenance can also appeal a child maintenance allowance decision. If you think the decision is incorrect, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeal Board. The decision of the Social Security Appeal Board can be appealed to the Insurance Court, which is the final appeal stage.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

  • Social Insurance Institution (Kela)
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Finnish Tax Administration
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