You bought the kid Christmas gifts fit for a king, in the hope that your ex might for once forego alimony payments? Think again…
When the shared household disintegrates and the parents part ways, the one who didn’t get custody is principally required to make child support payments into the hands of the other parent. If these payments do not arrive on time, then the beneficiary (i.e., the child, represented by the other parent) may file for a writ of attachment. Four consecutive counts of non-payment (i.e., failure to pay child support for four months in a row) actually qualify as a criminal offense!
Once set, the amount of child support payments can only be moderated by a new court decision, but not e.g. by a mutual understanding between the parents (see the Czech Supreme Court ruling 20 Cdo 380/2016), nor is it possible (in the case of minors) to perform any set-off whatsoever against child support owed. The fixed amount of child support therefore must be credited every month to the other parent’s bank account (or otherwise be made available in the form of money, depending on what was agreed in family court).
According to the Supreme Court (in AZ 4 Tz 114/2001), „a discharge of the duty to provide child support for a minor in the form of performances in kind (as opposed to cash) is principally permissible, but only on the condition that such performances fully and timely cover the legitimate needs of the child.“ In other words, the Supreme Court concedes the possibility that, instead of making alimony payments, the obliged parent buys food, clothes, or other needful items for their child. None the less, we urgently advise everyone not to engage in this form of substitute child support: a bailiff ordered to collect alimonies is not required (nor will they be inclined) to enquire whether a proper substitute performance in kind was rendered – not to mention that it will be exceedingly hard to prove in the first place that such performances in kind did indeed „fully and timely“ cover the „legitimate needs of the child“, especially if the other parent fails to cooperate (which must be expected to be the case).
You are certainly entitled to demand that the other parent does their part when it comes to one-off purchases such as skiing equipment or a bicycle, or a youth camp stay, on the basis of a prior mutual agreement on whether the given purchase should be made and how the costs will be split. But even in this case, you will never be allowed to perform a one-off reduction of the amount of child support.
Similarly, Christmas gifts and other presents and „occasional performances“ (as they are known) cannot be set off against alimony payments, nor may the payment in any way be reduced in connection with such performances. Of course, this is not supposed to mean that the parent who receives the child support payments on behalf of the child is the only one to ever buy the kid presents – quite to the contrary. Gifts have nothing to do with child support payments, as the latter strictly serve one purpose only: to cover the child’s legitimate needs (i.e., necessities such as food and clothes). Gifts and occasional performances are paid for from the own funds of each parent, including the parent who disposes of the child support payments.
For completeness’s sake, we note that any allowance paid directly to the child does of course not count against alimony payments.
In short, those who pay child support must religiously observe the letter of the relevant court order and pay the relevant amount within time to the other parent. Unless and until the amount has been adjusted in a new court decision, deviating from one’s alimony duties is extremely risky and almost always unlawful.
Act No. 89/2012 Coll., Sec. 910 et seq.