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In family law in particular, neediness is understood to mean an economic situation of natural persons in which they are not, or not sufficiently, able to provide for their maintenance on their own . The social law against it uses the legally-term need for assistance .


Family law

In the literal sense of the word, neediness means that someone needs financial help. Need is a legal maintenance claim on the part of the beneficiary and limiting on the part of the obligated party. The indefinite legal concept of need has been filled in by a large number of judgments by the Federal Court of Justice .

According to Section 1602, Paragraph 1 of the German Civil Code ( BGB) , those who are unable to support themselves are in need in family law . Both the income and the asset situation must be examined. Hence, neediness must be based on lack of wealth and unemployment. Conversely, from Section 1577 (1) of the German Civil Code (BGB), someone can demand maintenance if they cannot support themselves from their income and assets. Need arises when someone cannot cover their needs, i.e. the amount of maintenance required, with their own means.

The maintenance obligation is limited by the ability to pay and must not lead to the person obliged to become needy as a result of the maintenance obligation ( Section 1603 (1) BGB). In his favor, therefore, a certain protective asset (including deductible ) must be taken into account.

Special laws

According to Section 46 (3) administrative regulations, a prisoner is in need if he does not have at least an amount of house money and personal money available in the current month that corresponds to the amount of pocket money . The need test is based on § 46 VV.

Principle of subsidiarity

The subsidiarity principle ensures a ranking among the maintenance debtors. According to this, the person in need is initially responsible for his own needs ( Section 1602 (1) BGB). If, however, he cannot pay for himself, his relatives - graded according to the family closeness to the needy - are first obliged to provide maintenance (§ § 1606 , § 1607 BGB). Only if they are also not productive and therefore not subject to maintenance ( § 1603 BGB) can the need for help arise and a right to corresponding social benefits arise.

No neediness

The laws recognize two situations in which there is no need in spite of the objective conditions.

  • Anyone who deliberately causes his own need may not demand maintenance. Willful presupposes intent or already frivolous action (“conscious negligence”). Whoever knows or even expects that his behavior will make him needy, but who ruthlessly ignores this insight, acts carelessly.
  • Need is disapproved or ignored by law if it is morally indebted need according to § 1611 BGB. If the need arises through moral negligence on the part of the person entitled, there is no need under family law. According to Section 73 (1) of the EheG , only those who had become needy as a result of moral fault could demand “makeshift maintenance”. A violation of human obligations to live together or of fundamental precepts of one's own life was considered to be morally indebted.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Senta Bingener, Problems of § 1611 BGB , 2002, p. 37
  2. Hans-Dieter Schwind and a. (Ed.), Commentary on the Prison Act , 2005, Section 46 marginal number 6
  3. Kurt Schellhammer, Family Law According to Entitlement Bases , 2006, p. 215