There are two main benefits for single parents. First, there is the Allocation Soutien Familial (ASF), which is a non-contributory benefit for families where there is no second parent. Secondly, there is the means-tested Allocation de Parent Isole (API) which is payable for twelve months, or until the youngest child turns three years old. API is more generous that the general income support benefit, Revenue Minimum D'Insertion (RMI), but when the entitlement to API expires, a single parent may claim RMI.
In France, the courts set child support liabilities. For divorcing parents the judge will set the amount of child support along with contact arrangements. The judge requires child support agreements to be made when the divorce is by mutual consent and joint petition. Cohabiting couples may also use the courts where they cannot come to an agreement on separation. There are no formal guidelines for calculation of child support in France but the judge usually takes into account the needs of the children and the income of the non-resident parent. Child support levels are generally low.
Child support is not paid in about 10 per cent of cases and irregularly paid in another 40 per cent. The resident parent can ask the family benefits office to recover child support on their behalf after two months of non-payment. Payments can be deducted from the salary or bank account of the non-resident parent, or collected by a tax collector or bailiff. There is provision to recover a minimum maintenance amount but this measure is rarely used.