Separated, divorced, widowed, single parents? Here are five very useful tips.
Tip number 1: don’t be afraid if you don’t earn enough money.
Germany offers a range of financial support to single and struggling parents that should not be underestimated. In order to obtain financial assistance and tax relief, however, you need to contact the relevant authorities and fill out numerous forms. The bureaucracy is long and full of obstacles, but it never hurts to try. Moreover, in 2020, the new “Starke-Familien-Gesetz” opened access to the Kinderzuschlag to all single parents who had previously been refused an application.
According to the statistics, about half of lone parents are at risk of poverty, either because they do not earn enough money or because they do not receive child support from their former partner. In this case you should know that by applying regularly you can receive financial support (Unterhaltvorschuss) directly from the Jugendamt.
The Unterhaltvorschuss is paid monthly, but does not have a very high amount, so the main advice is to require the former partner to pay the alimony regularly (if so determined by the court), even through legal channels. People on low incomes can apply for a legal aid certificate at the local court and then obtain advice and out-of-court representation from a lawyer for a personal contribution of 15€.
Tip number 2: good organization is everything.
In order not to make mistakes, it is best to use simple tools that serve their purpose: a good calendar, question and file folders (with registration) and a budget planner. This can be done online or in the classic way with a budget book and a calculator, the important thing is that there is money left at the end of the month.
To really find a job, you need to find a childcare facility. The good news is that, under certain circumstances, the costs for daycare, childcare or after-school care are covered. Lone parents are also often given preferential consideration, so be sure to say something about this. There is also the legal right to care for children under the age of three. For more information, please contact the Jugendamt.
Tip number 3: Unity is strength.
It is not necessary to start from scratch and remain isolated, rather it is better to get in touch with other single parents. Where to find them? There are of course online groups, but the advice centers of Caritas and the Catholic Women’s Social Service (SkF) are also very useful for establishing contacts. Another good place to find people in the same situation is the “Kinder im Blick” course for separated parents, which is offered in many counseling centers.
Tip number 4: take some time just for yourself.
Single parents tend to do lots of things, dividing themselves between work (sometimes more than one) and raising their children. They never have time for themselves and this is wrong. It is absolutely necessary to take time for yourself, for relaxing and for finding new energy.
Tip number 5: Ask the right people for advice.
What is the minimum maintenance and what happens when the child are 18 years old?, how do I know if I can apply for social security, child benefit, child benefit supplement and housing allowance (Sozialgeld, Sozialhilfe, Kinderzuschlag und Wohngeld)? These are two of the many questions that single parents ask other people and often the wrong ones.
The best way to get the correct information about any kind of help is always to contact the office of the Jugendamt, charities, counseling centers in general. Getting advice from competent people reduces the risk of making mistakes and not taking advantage of all the potential benefits.