Children are responsible for their parents

"Parents are liable for their children" This sentence will seem familiar to most of you. If parents fail to meet their child’s duty of supervision, they must pay for the damage their children have done.

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But can one also interpret this quotation the other way around, so that children have to pay for their parents in some way? Short answer: "YES". As most people are probably not familiar with, the sentence “ Children are liable for their parents ". How exactly this statement is to be understood and what consequences it has for the children, at some point for their parents be liable, I would like to go into this in more detail in this blog post.

Most “parents” definitely don’t want you to have your children on your pocket later on. This is especially true if they become a case of care. That is why we often hear a phrase from the "nursing care insurance specialists" such as: "I don’t want my children to have to pay for me later".
Unfortunately, this happens much more often than you think. numbers the Foundation This is borne out by patient protection. In 2010, the state still got 54.2 million euros from those obliged to pay maintenance, and in 2015 it was 67.9 million euros. The cost of the person to be cared for often exceeds the income such as pension, savings and long-term care insurance. In this case, the social welfare office requires the solvency of the children to be checked. It does not matter what relationship the children have to their parents, as the following example shows:

Sons and daughters have to pay for their mothers and fathers’ care costs?

In our example, the Federal Court of Justice had to deal with this question. The plaintiff, let’s call him Alexander K., refused to meet the social security office’s claim of around € 10,000 for his father in need of care. The reason for this is the loss of contact in 1971, which came from his dad, let’s call him Hans K..
Afterwards, Hans K. had consistently ignored all of his son’s efforts to get in touch with him again and also only granted him the “strictest mandatory part” in his will. He wanted to use his new partner as the main heir. Alexander K. therefore refused to pay the municipality as a result of the “serious misconduct” because the father did not meet his parents’ entitlement in childhood. The father didn’t even respond when the son tried several times to contact him. Therefore he would not see it under any circumstances to pay for his father Hans K.’s care costs, since he hadn’t heard from him for decades and was therefore not there for him.

The judgment:

In short: Yes, children are liable for their parents, regardless of the relationship between them.

According to the Federal Court of Justice, a break in contact is not sufficient to deny the parents’ right to maintenance. This is because the father, Hans K., also looked after his son Alexander K. up to the 18th birthday, as the judge claimed. In this way, the father “essentially fulfilled his parental duties”. Therefore a right to have his son bear the remaining costs of his care.

Supporting paragraphs for this court decision:

Paragraph 1601 of the Civil Code stipulates: "Relatives in a straight line are obliged to provide each other with maintenance."

Parental maintenance divides society: The law is on the side of those who demand full family solidarity. Others consider the approach unbearable and unsocial because the children who are dependent are being massively exhausted. The rude tone and the almost "merciless" approach of individual social welfare offices cause a lot of bad blood.

Summary of the most important points on the topic "Children are liable for their parents"

  • Even if the contact between parents and their children has been broken for some time, children are still legally obliged to maintain their parents. However, this only within the scope of their own financial possibilities.
  • If the costs in case of necessary accommodation in the home are so high that the care insurance and pension of the person concerned are not sufficient, the social welfare institution pays first, but the money is later requested from the children
  • How much and whether children actually have to pay for their parents’ maintenance depends on their income and wealth
  • As a rule, a deductible of 1,800 euros is deducted from the adjusted net income, whereby the increased deductible of a family is around 3,240 euros. (As of 2016)
  • It should also be noted that the maintenance claims of one’s own children take precedence over the maintenance of your own Has parents
  • if the income of the children is not sufficient, the assets of the children must also be used up to a certain limit
  • A suitable, self-used property is, for example, part of the children’s wealth. It must therefore not be claimed for maintenance

Example calculation for the parents’ right to maintenance:

Assume the son has adjusted net income of € 2,400 a month. Then a deductible of 1,800 euros is deducted. This results in a maintenance claim of 50 percent of the 600 euros. In our example, this is 300 euros a month that the son has to raise for his father in need of care.

Child’s protective assets

As already mentioned in the last of the most important points, the children are entitled to a protective fund that cannot be claimed for the care of the parents. Because even if they have to make their own assets available to those in need, this kind of sparing assets are excluded. There is no limit or fixed amount, but the amounts have to be presented to the social welfare institution and the reasons why the money is being held back. For example, the assets must be demonstrably used for their own old-age insurance, or they may also be kept at a reasonable amount as a financial reserve for repairs to the house, for vacation or as a replacement for a broken car. However, according to the Federal Court of Justice, the strongest protection lies with your own and your own property.

Now, however, the question still arises: Do children have to pay for the costs of caring for their parents, even though they themselves still have savings?

This question can be answered with a clear “NO”. Before the children can be used for maintenance payments, the parents must disclose all of their income and assets. In addition, they also have to spend everything from their saved assets. You are only permitted to withhold a surplus as an asset reserve, which is defined as so-called unusable assets with a present value of currently 2,600 euros.
Furthermore, if they are entitled to basic security in everyday life, the parents must also apply for it. This income also clearly takes precedence over the child’s child support. It is particularly important for descendants to know that if their parents receive such payments, they are not obliged to return this money to the state.
If, however, the father or mother become so in need of help and have to go to the home, in addition to the basic security mentioned, there is also the help for care, which will probably not be enough to cover the monthly costs. The rest will then be covered by the social welfare institution, but later reclaimed by the children as part of their performance.

Summary for "Children are responsible for their parents"

If the parents are in need of care, children, as the examples and points above show, are responsible for securing their parents’ living needs through maintenance payments. However, this only takes place within the limits of their financial means. However, they are only relatives in a straight line, like their own children, who are descended directly from their parents to pay the maintenance. Grandchildren or children-in-law are therefore not directly affected by these demands, even if the children-in-law cannot really be distinguished from their own children, since these are also indirectly affected by payments, if they may have a joint account with the children, for example who are financially responsible for caring for their parents. Thus, the income of the children-in-law is also taken into account in the calculations of the individual family needs and there is therefore one indirect in-law child liability.


Only those who are unable to maintain themselves are entitled to maintenance from their children. This means so much that the wealth of the needy parents must first have been used up. Only then can the children be made maintenance payments. And also for the children themselves, the first thing is that their own maintenance has priority over that of the parents. This means that if you are not able to pay for the care of your parents, taking into account all your own financial burdens and expenses, you do not have to make these maintenance payments. The most important points for the maintenance claim are:

  1. The needs of the dependent, i.e. a parent
  2. His current need because his own income and savings are insufficient
  3. And lastly, the performance of the maintenance person, i.e. the child

However, if the child is financially able to pay for maintenance, it is almost impossible to refuse. This also applies if, as in our example, the father has broken off contact with the child for over forty years.


So that the children are not financially burdened when their parents are nursing, independent financial experts therefore recommend taking out private supplementary nursing care insurance! With our free long-term care allowance insurance comparison, you can easily determine the best long-term care allowance tariffs for your personal needs.

(c) Image source: CopyrightFreePictures – Pixabay


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Christina Cherry
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