AWhen the federal government announced the reform of the maintenance advance last year, the joy among the 2.1 million single parents in Germany was great. Mothers or fathers who have no or no regular support from the other parent for ordinary children can now apply for money from the state.
The performance, which previously was only for children under the age of 12 and was up to six years old, is now unlimited and until the 18th birthday. Between 154 and 273 euro depends on the age of a child. A "milestone for single parents" praises Miriam Hoheisel, the general director of the Association of single mothers and fathers.
The number of times that the state pays in advance for defaulters is now shown in the report on the consequences of the Advance Retention Act, which Minister of Foreign Affairs Franziska Giffey (SPD) presented to the Cabinet on Wednesday. According to this, 714,000 children and adolescents in Germany now receive a child welfare subsidy, 300,000 more than before the reform. Federal, state and local government expenditures amounted to 1.1 billion euros in 2017 – compared to 860.7 million in 2016.
"The high take-up shows how important the maintenance of a single-parent family is," Gifey said. "Reaching 300,000 more children than before with this achievement is a great achievement and improves the livelihood of single parents and their children, and it's good that the state comes when parents do not meet their maintenance obligations. & # 39;
Many of them were in fact unable to pay for maintenance, emphasized the Minister of Family Affairs. However, there are also "the unwilling who can afford to pay, but fear it," Giffey said. "Here we want to tighten the thumb screws and bring more money than before."
So far the success rate has been low – only 19 percent of the money the state has become a franchisee with, it was able to collect from the defaulting debtor about 209 million euros. And this despite the fact that some offices make great efforts to get their money back. In Cologne, for example, the Entertainment Attraction department almost doubled in the social assistance office. Bavaria recorded the highest returns in 2017, at 27 percent, and Hamburg at 7 percent.
It should not stay with these low quotas. The federal and state governments had agreed to develop common standards to get more money back, Giffey clarified. "We will accelerate this process and also resort to unconventional methods, such as driving bans for maintenance – according to the motto: who does not pay, runs."
A proposal that is opposed by the opposition. "Instead of absurd suggestions such as a driving ban, Ms. Giffey should consider how to restore the maintenance progress," said FDP family politician Daniel Föst. "With driving bans, the professional situation of the debtor ultimately deteriorates: no work without a refund, and it is also important to clarify why retrieval works in some communities and not in others."
He also argued for changing family law so that both parents take care of the same thing. "As long as the motto applies, one learns, the other pays, there is always a risk of poverty for single parents – and the maintenance progress rises and rises," Föst said.
Livelihoods are mainly fathers
The size of the problem of unpaid maintenance is calculated by the German Institute for Economic Research 2014. According to the document "Maintenance claims and their reality", half of all debtors do not fulfill their obligations at all, only a quarter are insufficient. Because 90 percent of divorced children live mainly with the mother, sinners are mainly sisters. It is even worse when it comes to the payment behavior of dependent mothers. Even 85 percent of them have not fulfilled their obligations.
One can only speculate about the reasons for the association of single mothers and fathers. "Unfortunately, there is no empirical research," says director Miriam Hoheisel. "But that would be urgently needed to objectify the discussion."
The Association for Maintenance and Family Law (ISUV), which specializes in the interests of divorce families, mainly refers to the tense financial situation of the debtors. "In order to be able to pay the minimum maintenance, a father must earn at least 1900 net, which is more than 3000 euros gross – that's what you have to earn first", says Josef Linsler from the federation. Of course there are also conscientious objectors. "But it is always beaten to all fathers," says Linsler.
The maintenance deposit, he considers a charity – especially for the lonely parent, the job and the child actually have to do alone. "They deserve more than support," says Linsler. The law also contains many points of entry for abuse, criticizes the ISUV spokesman. Often there is already a new partner in the household, but this is still reported elsewhere – in order not to endanger the claims. Moreover, the only thing that plays a role in the right to an advance on maintenance payments is that the ex-partner does not pay for the child – not his own income.
Linsler is currently involved in an extreme case. A single father asked for the child benefit payment for his three children, although he earns many more than his ex-wife, who became unemployed after the divorce due to psychological problems. It is now in the chalk of the state. "The correct and justified advance of the maintenance is an uncomfortable and unfairness when a parent in the welfare state can raise money at the expense of the other parent and can make debts, regardless of whether he refuses to work or lives with another partner. not to ", says Linsler. Although maintenance is strictly the right of a child, the income of the parents must play a role in the application, says Linsler.
And the Association of single mothers and fathers still sees room for improvement. Especially for single parents who dangle on level of existence, the maintenance allowance can be a pitfall. "In the worst case scenario, they lose their right to a child allowance and rent allowance – and thus to the benefits of the education and participation package," says Hoheisel. According to calculations by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology, they can even be worse off in individual cases than without a maintenance advance. "We need to improve urgently here," says Hoheisel.
However, the federal government has already recognized this problem. The reform of child benefit is on the agenda for this legislature. "In this context, care must be taken to ensure that the child benefit, the housing subsidy and the maintenance benefit are well coordinated," says the Ministry of Family Affairs.