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Recovery of child support debt

Child increases to unemployment benefits to be abolished – check how this affects you

The child increases that Kela pays as a supplement to the labour market subsidy, the basic unemployment allowance and the commuting and relocation allowance will be abolished as of 1 April 2024. The child increases that unemployment funds pay as a supplement to the earnings-related unemployment allowance will also be abolished as of that date. If your child support debt is being recovered by Kela and you receive unemployment benefits, the abolishment of child increases may affect the recovery of your child support debt.

Read more (in Finnish): Child increases to unemployment benefits will be abolished as of 1 April 2024 – find out how the change affects you if you are liable for maintenance or receive child maintenance allowance

If a resident parent receives child maintenance allowance payments from Kela because the parent liable for maintenance has not made the required child support payments, the unpaid child support will be collected by Kela’s Overpayment Recovery Centre. The child support payments that are to be collected are called child support arrears.

If you have child support arrears, Kela will send you a letter with information on the child support arrears and the amount of any possible child support that will fall due and instructions for payment. If you cannot pay all the child support arrears at once, you can suggest a payment plan in the OmaKela e-service or by contacting Kela’s Overpayment Recovery Centre. Please note that our e-service is only available in Finnish and Swedish. When suggesting a payment plan, take into account both any possible child support that will fall due and the repayment of the child support arrears.

If Kela does not receive the payments stated in the letter or you do not agree on a payment plan with Kela, we will refer the debt to collection through an enforcement order. You will not receive any separate notice about this.

If you pay the child support directly to the child or to the other parent, the payments will not reduce the amount of child support arrears to be collected by Kela.

The amounts of the child maintenance allowance and the child support are linked to the cost-of-living index. The amounts are adjusted annually. You can view the amount of the child support for the following year in the OmaKela e-service after the middle of December. You can also view the payment details for the child support arrears in OmaKela.

Exemption from payment

If your outstanding child support payments are being recovered by Kela and you are unable to pay them due to temporary financial difficulties, you can apply for an exemption from payment of the child support arrears owed to the government from Kela. In this case, Kela will waive the recovery of the child support arrears owed to Kela.

Exemption is granted retrospectively for a minimum of one calendar month and for a maximum of one year. Exemption is granted insofar as there are outstanding payments of child support for the calendar month in question. For particularly weighty reasons, an exemption from payment can be granted for more than a year before the application. Forgetting or not knowing that you are liable to pay child support are not considered particularly weighty reasons.

Exemption from payment cannot be granted for future payments. You can apply for an exemption from payment from Kela for the current month at the earliest on the first day of the following month.

Reasons for inability to pay

In order to qualify for an exemption from payment, your inability to pay must be due to circumstances outside of your control. The reason for inability to pay can be for instance

  • unemployment
  • work disability
  • full-time study
  • parental leave
  • absence from work due to caring for a sick child (special care allowance)
  • participation in rehabilitation
  • serving a prison sentence
  • performing compulsory military service
  • receiving an old-age pension.

The reason for your inability to pay must have been in force throughout the month for which you apply for an exemption from payment. If you have long-term financial difficulties and cannot make the child support payments, it may be necessary to change the confirmed amount of child support. Concerning issues related to the amount of child support, you should contact the child welfare officer of your wellbeing services county.

Income limit for exemption from payment

If you are entitled to an exemption from payment, you can earn a maximum of EUR 1,324.57 per month (gross, i.e. before taxes). In the period 1.1.2023-31.12.2023 the income limit is EUR 1,263.43 per month. The income limit is increased by EUR 331.15 for each child under 18 years of age provided for, with the exception of the children for whom child maintenance allowance has been granted. In the period 1.1.2023-31.12.2023 the increase is EUR 315.86 per month per child. Your spouse’s or partner’s children do not affect the income limit.

Income taken into account

All earned income and capital income as well as social security benefits count as income in connection with the exemption from payment. The income is, as per the date of payment and at its gross amount, taken into account as income for the month when it was paid out. The following incomes are taken into account:

  • earned income incl. fringe benefits
  • capital income as per the date of payment
  • social security benefits (e.g. unemployment allowance excl. child increase, child benefit as well as general housing allowance, which is counted as income for the parent liable for maintenance, if this parent is living in the same household as the recipient of the housing allowance)
  • insurable earned income under the Self-Employed Persons' Pensions Act (YEL) or the Farmers' Pensions Act (MYEL).

Instructions on how to apply for exemption from payment are available at How to deal with recovery-related issues.

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Last modified 27/2/2024