Raising a child alone is a big task that many mothers and fathers master day after day. Even as a single parent, you face the challenge of doing right by your child, yourself, and possibly your job. To manage this balancing act, it can be helpful to have a network of supporters who can help and step in when needed. This can include relatives or friends. But different governmental offices or professional counseling centers can also be part of this network or support you in building such a network for yourself.
All mothers, whether single or in partnership, are entitled to various levels of financial assistance. These include child benefits (Kindergeld), child tax credits (Kinderfreibetrag) and parental allowances (Elterngeld). It also includes maternity pay (Mutterschaftsgeld) and maternity protection allowance (Mutterschutzlohn). Under certain conditions, you can also get what’s known in Germany as a ‘care allowance’, ‘home care’ or a home aide. In addition, you can apply for social assistance (Sozialhilfe) and basic security benefits for job seekers or housing benefits. However, there are also kinds of assistance that only single parents are entitled to. With so many different kinds of financial aid available, it's easy to lose track of what's going on. That's why you should seek professional advice and exchange ideas with other single parents, who can often provide valuable tips. It is also good to know that single parents have the possibility to deduct a certain part of their income from their taxes. This is called the ‘single parent relief amount’ in German.
You should also know that as a single parent you have a right to alimony from your former partner. For one, you may be entitled to alimony if you cannot work enough to support yourself because of raising your child. This is called ‘child support’, ‘childcare maintenance’, ‘alimony’ or ‘post-marital support’. Additionally, your child may be entitled to receive child support from your former partner as well. This is the case if they are a minor or still taking part in the education system. If your partner refuses to pay alimony or child support, you can apply for and advance on child support (Unterhaltsvorschuss) payments at the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt).
For general questions, it's best to first visit a counseling centre that offers comprehensive advice. You can get information about this at the Youth Welfare Office, for example. There are pregnancy, parenting, family and social counseling centres. Most of them are operated by non-profit organisations. If you need professional advice and support specifically for single parents, it is best to contact the Bundesverband alleinerziehder Mütter und Väter e. V. This association is the largest lobby group for single parents. Among other things, the staff can help you find out what financial aid you can receive and how to apply for it. They also help arrange stays at cures for rehabilitation and family recreation. In some cases, the association even grants subsidies for this. You can also make contact with other single parents through the association.
Mothers and fathers can get into stressful life situations for various reasons and may feel mentally or physically overwhelmed. A good place to start in such cases is the Early Help Network (Netzwerk Frühe Hilfen). This is an association of institutions that are familiar with different difficult life situations and can support you in a variety of ways. In the event of domestic violence, stalking or sexual harassment, there is a nationwide help hotline at 08000 / 116016. Counseling is offered there in 17 different languages. If necessary and desired, the staff there will refer you directly to help facilities in your area.
For help with legal problems, there are special legal advice centres that can help you. If you have any questions about notarizing documents, guardianship, or caring for your child in emergency situations, you can also simply contact the Youth Welfare Office. The staff there can also advise and support you if you need help and support with parenting.