Useful information for persons liable for maintenance

A person liable for maintenance is a parent who is required to pay child support under a child support agreement or court decision.

If the parent liable for maintenance has neglected to pay child support, the parent who lives with the child can claim child maintenance allowance from Kela. In such a case, Kela will pay child maintenance allowance to the parent and collect all unpaid child support payments from the parent liable for maintenance, including late payment interest, and all future child support payments due every month. These child support payments to be collected are called child support debt or maintenance debt. Filing an appeal against a decision concerning child maintenance allowance or a decision concerning exemption from payment of child support does not suspend the collection of child support.

As long as Kela is paying child maintenance allowance to the parent in whose care the child is, the parent liable for maintenance will have to direct all child support payments to Kela. If the liable parent pays the child support directly to the child or to the other parent, the payments will not reduce the amount of child support debt to be collected by Kela. Child support debt expires in 5 years.

When child maintenance allowance has been granted, Kela will send a letter to the parent liable for maintenance stating, among other things, the amount of child support debt and the due date, account number and reference number for the payment of the debt.

If you are unable to pay a child support debt

If you are unable to pay the outstanding amount of debt in a single payment, you can negotiate a payment plan with Kela. In such a case, please contact Kela's Overpayment Recovery Centre.

If you have not contacted the Overpayment Recovery Centre and you do not repay the debt, it will be recovered through an enforcement order. Kela will not send a reminder for the non-payment of outstanding debt.

The child support payments recovered from the parent liable for maintenance are always allocated to the oldest debt. This means that if the debt has accumulated over several months, the liable parent cannot him/herself decide towards which month's overdue child support payment the settlement goes. If you are receiving unemployment benefit, Kela will collect the child increase of the unemployment benefit to cover unpaid child support. If you are receiving student financial aid, Kela can collect any provider supplement that may be included in the study grant as repayment for unpaid child support.

If you have mislaid the account number or reference number for payment, please contact Kela's online customer service or the Overpayment Recovery Centre. It is important to use the correct account and reference numbers to ensure that your payment will be matched to your child support debt.

Once collected, Kela will pass the payments of child support on to the recipient of the child maintenance allowance if the child has been left without child support payments due to him/her. The recovered child support is paid to the recipient on the 25th of the month.

If your financial situation is such that you cannot pay off your child support debt to Kela, you can apply to Kela for a temporary exemption. Read more about exemption from payment of child support debt. 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.