Maintenance law includes all legal provisions that affect the legal relationships between those obliged to pay maintenance and those entitled to maintenance.
As part of family law, maintenance law is regulated in various provisions of Book Four of the Civil Code. Certain groups of people who cannot adequately support themselves are entitled to maintenance. Under German maintenance law, direct relatives and (divorced) spouses can be entitled to maintenance. As a special case in maintenance law, the maintenance claim of mother and father on the occasion of the birth is regulated in Section 1615 l BGB.
Relative maintenance is legally anchored in Sections 1601 ff. of the German Civil Code (BGB). According to § 1601 BGB, direct relatives are obliged to provide support for each other. The main case here is child support, i.e. maintenance from parents to their children. But under maintenance law, children may also be obliged to pay maintenance to their parents, often in the event of a need for care.
The maintenance obligation as a result of entering into a marriage is regulated differently in maintenance law. Classic family maintenance in an intact family is regulated in maintenance law in Sections 1360 – 1360 b BGB. If the spouses live separately without being divorced, they may be entitled to separation maintenance in accordance with Section 1361 of the German Civil Code (BGB). After the divorce has been finalized, everyone has to provide for their own maintenance, see Section 1569 of the German Civil Code (BGB). As an exception, under maintenance law, maintenance must also be granted after the divorce; these exceptional circumstances are standardized in Sections 1570 ff. of the German Civil Code (BGB).