Understanding Alimony and Youngster Assist in Costa Rica Understanding

Contrary to popular belief, maintenance payments and / or maintenance payments are not “set in stone” according to a judgment. The Costa Rican law provides for the possibility of a change if the financial possibilities of the debtor or the beneficiary make it necessary to increase or decrease these benefits. This can be achieved if the interested party applies for a procedure called “incidente de aumento o rebajo de pensión alimentaria”, in which a different payment amount is requested.

The amount to be paid for maintenance or child maintenance can be changed by a family court at any time if the person concerned can prove that the circumstances have changed within the meaning of the law. This is the way to avoid negative situations caused by events such as prison inmates, children with unmet needs, or anger at the legal system. The action can be brought by one spouse for another, for a minor or disabled child for his or her parents, and by parents or grandparents for adult children or grandchildren, or vice versa.

According to the laws and jurisprudence of Costa Rica, alimony and child support cannot be quantified with any mathematical formula. This means that there is no such thing as a “magic formula”, so the authorities have to analyze each case with a view to the essentials; Necessity vs. possibility. Based on this concept, there must be a delicate balance in any judgment or agreement between the parties; When making a decision, all aspects such as the needs and living conditions of the beneficiary as well as the debtor’s options should be taken into account.
However, sometimes it happens that a judge decides to set the amount of the surcharge in such a way as to maintain the beneficiary’s current lifestyle without taking into account the situation of the person who has to pay. In order to apply for an increase in the benefit amount, it must either be demonstrated that the circumstances have changed that require a higher need for support because the needs of the beneficiary have changed, or that the debtor’s income and standard of living have improved.

In order to apply for a reduction in the benefit, it is necessary to demonstrate a change in circumstances that implies a reduced possibility of the benefit. Some of the legally permissible situations on which the decision to reduce or waive the obligation to pay may be based are: A) Termination or forced loss of job, B) Economic losses, C) the minor child has reached the age of 18 (unless the student is a regular student, in which case it is up to 25 years of age) D) An illness or serious injury.

The procedure for applying for a change in the amount or the terms of payment is referred to as an “incident” in accordance with Section 58 of the Maintenance Act and proceeds as follows: A) The applicant will submit a petition setting out the facts underlying the change requested and providing evidence to justify the change. B) The judge has at least five working days to respond to the claim. C) After examining the arguments of the parties and the evidence presented, the judge will decide the case.

The biggest mistake in filing such a petition occurs when the request is made but there is insufficient evidence to show the need for an adjustment or the petitioner cannot demonstrate a change in circumstances. The requesting party must provide sufficient and appropriate evidence to convince the judge that a change is indeed necessary and that a change is very necessary. A mere assertion that only provides circumstantial evidence can only result in the judge rejecting the application and confirming the current decision.

Of course, if such a decision is against either party, they have the right to appeal, which will be decided by the appropriate appellate court. Some additional things to consider are: A) Only after the final decision can the maintenance / child benefit be changed; B) The plaintiff and the defendant may agree a reasonable amount through an alternative dispute settlement arrangement; C) Each case is different and should be analyzed with caution and professionalism.

This article was prepared with the assistance of another Costa Rican attorney, Jose Alejandro Garro Agüero, who has extensive experience and knowledge of family and labor law.

About the author: Allan Garro was founded in 1996 as a lawyer and notary public. He specializes in litigation, corporate and real estate law. He also served as an outside legal advisor to Congress. He is the author of more than 100 published English-language articles and can be contacted at [email protected]

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