Parental agreements on child maintenance: are they valid?

Parental agreements on child maintenance

When two parents split up, it is necessary to come to an agreement regarding the children. Custody, maintenance, choosing the house in which they will live: these are just some of the many aspects that need to be taken into account to protect minor children, who are most exposed to the consequences of a break-up between mother and father. Generally, this regulation is done before the judge, in compliance with the law. In this article, however, we will answer a specific question: whether agreements between parents on child maintenance are valid.

Parental separation has precise effects depending on whether the couple is married or not:

  • if they are married, then the separation must necessarily be sanctioned by the judge or agreed by the spouses by means of a formal agreement before lawyers (so-called assisted negotiation) or in the municipality;
  • if they are unmarried, then the separation does not have to be formalised, but the maintenance, upbringing and education of the children must still be provided for.

In other words, if the couple is not married, one cannot even technically speak of ‘separation’, which, on the contrary, presupposes a conjugal bond between the parties. Instead, the obligation to provide for the children remains, which is independent of marriage.

The agreement on the maintenance of the children (minors or non self-sufficient adults) must necessarily be contained in any agreement that the spouses have reached and that they intend to submit to the court for approval.

If the spouses with minor or non economically independent children wanted to exclude maintenance from the agreement, it would be refused by the court.

In fact, the court is free to adopt the measures it deems most appropriate to protect the interest of the offspring, as it is not bound by the will of the spouses.

Thus, even if, for purely hypothetical reasons, husband and wife agreed on a minimum amount of maintenance for the child (e.g. one hundred euros), the judge could decide without taking the agreement into account, setting a higher amount.

Spouses who want to separate cannot disregard child maintenance, and the same applies to unmarried parents, who can, however, also agree informally, i.e. with an agreement signed without involving lawyers or judges. Let us see how.

In brief: according to case law, agreements between parents on child maintenance are valid and, if not respected, can be enforced in court.

VGS lawyers is a law firm specialised in child maintenance and divorce allowance: in case you need assistance just drop your enquiry at

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