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Alimony and Child Support in Costa Rica

Many people in Costa Rica believe that Alimony and Child Support payments are “set in stone”. This is far from the true reality.

In order to determine the judgment payment in such cases, authorities must analyze each case with a basic recognition in mind, Necessity versus Possibility. A delicate balance must be reached between the involved parties when alimony and child support judgments are set. The final judgment takes into account the needs of the beneficiary, their living conditions, and finally, the financial possibilities of the “Obligor”.

There are instances, sometimes, that a judge will decide to set the judgment to maintain the current lifestyle of the beneficiary without taking into consideration the financial situation of the person that has to pay.

Payments Can Change

Alimony and/or child support payments are not set in stone once a judgment has been reached. The Alimony and Child Support Act (Ley de Pensiones Alimentarias) makes it possible to change payment amounts when the financial possibilities of either the payee or beneficiary necessitate a need for an increase or reduction of the payment amount.

The party, beneficiary, or payee, requesting the change can file for a proceeding called “incidente de aumento o rebajo de pensión alimentaria” seeking a different award amount. The action may be requested by one spouse for another, for a minor or disabled child for their parents, and by parents or grandparents for adult children or grandchildren or vice versa, within the family court.

To request an increase in the amount of a benefit, it is mandatory to demonstrate proof of circumstances that imply a need for a larger amount of support because the needs of the beneficiary have changed or because the income and life status of the payee has improved.

To request a reduction in the amount of the benefit, it is required to demonstrate a change of the circumstances that imply a decreased possibility of providing for the dependent(s).

Stopping Payments

There are some situations, allowed by law, by which judgment payments are eliminated:

1) The termination or forced loss of a job;
2) Economic losses;
3) The minor child reaches 18 years of age (unless they are regular students, in which case they are covered until age 25);
4) An illness or serious injuries.

If you need assistance regarding Costa Rican Alimony or Child Support issues, please contact us, and we will gladly put you in contact with one of our experienced lawyers.

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