When calculating child maintenance, the first step is to determine a child’s needs. “Is it possible to increase a child’s needs?” is a question I am regularly asked by my clients. In this blog, I will therefore discuss needs-based costs in child maintenance, In other words, the costs that increase a child’s needs.
How do you determine a child’s needs?
A system for determining a child’s needs (what does a child cost?), based on CBS figures, has been developed in cooperation with NIBUD (Nationaal Instituut voor Budgetvoorlichting). This includes taking the size of the family into account. It also includes taking the age of the children and net family income, including government contributions such as child benefit, into account.
Is it possible to increase a child’s needs?
Not easily. The system provides clear guidelines and legal certainty. Moreover, the rationale is often that you can offset high costs on one hand with lower costs on the other. In other words, costs must be so high or special that they are not covered by needs. Examples that are regularly encountered in practice are the costs of an expensive sport or top-class sport, the costs of a disabled child and the costs of private lessons or high tuition fees.
Similarly, a recent ruling by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal dealt with whether the needs of two children could be increased. This case involved the cost of lenses, orthodontics, travel to school and dyslexia support. With regard to the lenses and orthodontics, the court ruled that these are not needs-based costs. With regard to travel costs to a school for one child, the court ruled that these did constitute needs-based costs. This was partly due to the fact that the child in question had chosen this school. It is also a school that has suitable support for dyslexia problems. This child’s needs were thereby increased by approximately €125 a month to cover the costs of the train season ticket.
Similarly, for the other child’s dyslexia support, the court held that this child’s costs were needs-based, partly because the child’s school performance declined when the dyslexia support stopped. This child’s needs were therefore increased by approximately €200 per month to cover the costs of this support. There was no increase in needs for one child’s dyslexia support because it was not substantiated that additional costs would actually be incurred.
Conclusion regarding needs-based costs in child maintenance
An increase in a child’s needs therefore does occur from time to time. However, every case is different. Ultimately, an assessment of whether costs are needs-based will be based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case.
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