Turkey plans revision of alimony payments, deadlines

Child support payments are an urgent problem, especially for women without economic independence. On the other hand, “lifetime” alimony for divorced husbands is a cause for complaint. The Justice Ministry plans to revise the rules on alimony payments, according to a report in Tuesday’s Hürriyet newspaper. The issue is on the agenda of newly appointed Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag.

The newspaper reported that the new rules would introduce deadlines for child support payments. For example, one spouse must pay child support to the other spouse for five years if the two have been married for less than two years. The alimony limits are a maximum of 12 years for marriages lasting up to 10 years. If the spouse who is responsible for maintenance is still in financial difficulties after the maintenance period has expired, the maintenance is extended by up to three years.

Legal experts point out that there is no such thing as “lifetime” alimony under Turkish law, and alimony requirements can be waived by court order if a spouse has the financial means to support themselves. Yet most of them criticize current child support practices – claiming that men have had to pay child support for years even though they have been married for only a few months, have no children and have little financial means.

Hurriyet says a draft regulation will be submitted to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for approval. The draft changes the interpretation of current legislation on this issue, including the assessment of alimony based on spouses’ income and occupation.

Among other things, the plan is to end child support payments for divorced couples if they are over 18 and have additional income. Currently, children do not receive child support once they turn 18 unless they are in school. Under the new plans, older children will be exempt from child support if they are both studying and working.

It’s unclear whether the benefit payments can be further extended after the final extension, but the report, which cites officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), says the government could give grants to spouses in need if their financial difficulties persist. The situation is particularly bad for housewives who had no work, vocational training or education before marriage. In a country where women’s employment rates still lag behind men’s, finding a job for women who are past the average age for starting a job (around 20) can be difficult.

On the other hand, data in the same media report shows that 66% of child support payments remain unpaid.

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