Separation or divorce

When parents separate or divorce, the children will often live with one of the parents. The other parent (the non-resident parent) is considered to have maintenance liabilities. He/she is referred to as the liable parent and must pay child support for the children.

The parents make an agreement on child support and the amount to be paid as well as, for example, on the living arrangements and the right of access.

If a parent who is liable for maintenance does not pay child support or if there is no parent with maintenance liabilities, Kela can pay child support to the parent in whose care the child is.

  • Child support = amount based on a child support agreement or a court decision, paid by the parent liable for maintenance in respect of his/her child.
  • Child maintenance allowance = benefit paid by Kela to provide economic security if the child does not receive child support from the parent liable for maintenance.
  • Person liable for maintenance = parent required to pay child support under a child support agreement or court decision.
  • Non-resident parent = parent liable for maintenance but not living in the same household with the child.
  • Resident parent = the parent who lives in the same household with the child.

Agreement on child support

On separating or divorcing, the parents agree on child support with an agreement confirmed by the municipal social welfare office. The agreement is usually drawn up by a child welfare officer. If the parents are unable to come to an agreement, the amount will be determined by a court of law. The parents can agree on child support informally, but child maintenance allowance from Kela will require an agreement confirmed by a court of law or the social welfare office. Kela can pay child maintenance allowance if the amount of child support is too low or if the parent liable for maintenance is unable to pay it due to his/her financial situation.

Further information about child support and confirmation of the amount of support is available, for example, from the social welfare office of your municipality.

Eligibility for other benefits

In a situation of separation or divorce, the parent who is living with the child may be eligible for various benefits paid by Kela.

  • The parent who lives with the child, but does not live with a new partner, may be eligible for single-parent supplement to child benefit. If the child lives alternately with both parents, the parents can agree between themselves on who will claim the child benefit and the single-parent supplement to child benefit from Kela. The single-parent supplement is payable even if the parents have shared custody of the child.
  • A separation or divorce may also have an impact on your housing benefits.
  • The care supplement and the municipal supplement to the child home care allowance are affected by the family's income, so you may become eligible for these benefits if the income of your family falls.
  • Social assistance, or income support, is the last-resort form of financial assistance.

     It is available to individuals and families who are unable to make a living by any other means, and whose income and assets and other social benefits do not cover their necessary daily expenses.

You can use the calculators (in Finnish or Swedish) to estimate your eligibility for benefits.