These days, one child in five is born to unmarried parents in Switzerland. For this reason, new laws came into effect on 1 January 2017, which require separated unmarried parents to pay substantially more to the parent looking after their children, most often the mother.
Broadly speaking, the new laws bring the rules applicable to unmarried couples into line with those applied to divorced married couples. Until the end of last year, unmarried separated parents only had to pay child maintenance. From now on they will also need to cover some of their former partner’s costs such as rent, health insurance, basic living expenses and loss of earnings.
In Geneva, basic costs for a solo parent are calculated at CHF 1,350 per month according to lawyer Anne Reiser. Other costs such as rent and health insurance would have to be added to this amount. Speaking to 20 Minutes, lawyer Bernard Nuzzo, said that a separated father who currently pays CHF 500 per month might now have to pay CHF 3,500, seven times as much.
In 2009, in the canton of Vaud, 16.9% of solo parents received money from the government. 95.4% were mothers.
Julien Dura, spokesperson for a group which defends the rights of fathers, is critical of the move. He thinks the new rules don’t encourage separated mothers to go back to work, and will push some fathers into poverty, making it harder for them to live in conditions that allow them to take care of their children. According to him, men who request shared custody, often fail to get it, and find themselves reduced to walking wallets.
Sophie Thorens-Aladjem, président of the Tribunal civil de Genève said that no formula has been set. Most likely the basic cost figure of CHF 1,350 will be extended to include rent, charges, tax and public transport, she said. In addition, the minimum amount for fathers will be maintained. Geneva’s courts won’t prescribe anything, she added. Policy will be decided at a federal level.