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US - Finland conference call May 3, 2007. Tiina Nurmimäki, Hanna Rantala and Tuija Miettilä. AN OVERVIEW OF THE FINNISH SYSTEM OF CHILD SUPPORT ESTABLISMENT, VARIATION AND ENFORCEMENT. FINLAND. SWEDEN.

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US - Finland conference call May 3, 2007

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us finland conference call may 3 2007

US - Finland conference call May 3, 2007

Tiina Nurmimäki, Hanna Rantala and Tuija Miettilä

an overview of the finnish system of child support establisment variation and enforcement



Democratic republicMember of the European UnionPopulation 5.3 millionArea 130,558 sq miCapital HelsinkiOfficial languages Finnish and Swedish






child maintenance act
Child Maintenance Act
  • A child is entitled to maintenance from the parents until the age of 18, but even after that the parents can be responsible for the costs incurred by education if deemed reasonable.
  • Maintenance is payable in cash on a monthly basis and in advance, or as an exception it can be established as a lump sum.
  • The amount is determined individually based on the child’s needs and the parent’s financial capacity.
  • Due to rises in living costs, an automatic increase applies to maintenance paid periodically.
The amount and payment method of validated maintenance can be adjusted by agreement or judgement, if the circumstances have changed remarkably.
  • Child maintenance is paid to the child’s custodian (deposited in a bank account specified by the custodian).
  • Interest on overdue maintenance payment is enforceable based on law.
  • Maintenance payments and interest on arrears fall under the statute of limitations in five years.
security of child maintenance act
Security of Child Maintenance Act
  • If the person liable does not pay the validated maintenance, the person entitled to maintenance can:

1) request assistance from the local enforcement authority to collect maintenance

2) apply for advance of child support from the local social welfare authority (2007: € 129,91 / $ 173 per month)

  • Advance of child support does not affect the liable parent’s duty to pay maintenance in full and the authority has the sole right to collect all maintenance arrears from the person liable for payment.
establishment of child support
1. Confirmation of maintenance on the basis of agreement

more than 90 % of the child support cases

in writing and signed by the parents

submitted for the confirmation of the social welfare board of the municipality in which the representative of the child has his habitual residence

the board pays special consideration to whether or not the agreement can be deemed reasonable in view of the right of the child to sufficient maintenance, the financial ability of the parents and other relevant factors

Establishment of child support
Confirmation of maintenance on the basis of a court decision

If the parents cannot reach an agreement, the matter has to be handled through a judicial process

    • the court confirms the responsibility to pay maintenance from the date the action was brought or from a later date specified in the decision
    • the responsibility to pay maintenance can begin from a date preceding the bringing of action if there are especially weighty reasons for this, but not beyond the year preceding the date the action was brought.
    • if the action for maintenance was brought within one year of the date paternity had been established, the father may be ordered to pay maintenance from the date the child was born if deemed reasonable (not beyond five years preceding the date action was brought)
method of calculating child support
Method of calculating child support
  • A child has the right to sufficient maintenance
  • The parents are responsible for the maintenance of the child in accordance with their abilities
  • In assessment consideration shall be given to
    • their age
    • ability to work
    • opportunity to take part in gainful employment
    • the amount of their assets
    • their other statutory maintenance liability
  • Consideration shall also be given to the ability and opportunity of the child to be responsible for his own maintenance
variation of child support
Variation of child support
  • maintenance payments are subject to automatic reassessment carried out by the Ministry for Social Welfare and Health (Act on linking of certain maintenance payments to the cost-of-living index)
  • if the circumstances that must be taken into consideration in confirming the maintenance have changed to such an extent that alteration of maintenance is deemed reasonable in view of the circumstances of both the child and the parents-> by an agreement confirmed by the social welfare or court decision
enforcement of child support
Enforcement of child support
  • an agreement on maintenance confirmed by the social welfare board is enforceable in the same way as a final judgement
  • a judgement ordering a person to pay maintenance of increasing/decreasing the amount of maintenance can be enforced immediately as a final decision, regardless of appeal
  • child support is given priority compared to other debts in execution
  • methods available for enforcement: wage withholding, tax refund intercept, garnishment from a bank account or other sources, distraint of property for a forced sale
enforcement of us support order in finland
Enforcement of US Support Order in Finland

Ministry for Foreign Affairs as the receiving central authority:

  • verifies the address of the debtor
  • requests the local social welfare authority to contact the debtor and to examine his financial situation -> aim is to get the debtor to pay voluntarily
  • if the debtor is solvent but refuses to pay voluntarily or is not willing to give account of his financial situation -> sends the US support order to Court of Appel of Helsinki for recognition and enforcement
  • sends the enforceable decision to the District Enforcement Office for recovery of the maintenance (recovered maintenance is sent directly to the US bank account, not through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
enforcement of finnish support order in us
Enforcement of Finnish Support Order in US

Ministry for Foreign Affairs as the transmitting central authority:

  • provides assistance to the social welfare authorities or the custodian
  • ensures that the application contains all the relevant information and documentation
  • sends the application to the competent US authority

Please note that Finnish banks charge a fee of approx. $ 15 when payment is made by check.

establishment of child support in us related cases
Establishment of child support in US related cases
  • If the child lives in Finland; the social welfare authority / court corresponding to the domicile of child’s custodian has jurisdiction.
  • If the child lives in US; court corresponding to a) the former domicile of the child’s custodian or if there is no former domicile, b) District Court of Helsinki or c) the domicile of the person liable to pay maintenance has jurisdiction
  • An attorney from the State Legal Aid Office will represent the applicant.
modification of a foreign decision on child support
Modification of a foreign decision on child support
  • in the recognition proceedings the Finnish courts are not allowed to review the merits of the foreign decision
  • if the applicant requests a variation of the foreign decision, same rules apply in regard to the jurisdiction of Finnish courtsas for the establisment of child support
contact information
Contact information
  • Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Legal adviser Hanna Rantala tel. + 358 9 160 55 740 / fax + 358 9 160 55 755 Legal adviser Tiina Nurmimäki tel. + 358 9 160 56 398 / fax + 358 9 160 55 755

  • Department of Social Services of Helsinki Child Support Officer Tuija Miettilä