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Last update: 06-08-2007
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Maintenance claims - International law

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"I can't get someone in a non-Member State to pay my maintenance."

In order to compel a maintenance debtor in a State outside the European Union to pay maintenance, you must use the courts of the State in which you want to have your judgment enforced. International conventions such as those listed below can help you to enforce your claim to maintenance abroad.

  • The New York Convention of 20 June 1956 on the recovery abroad of maintenance (United Nations) establishes arrangements on administrative co-operation between the competent authorities;
  • The Hague Conventions of 1958 and 1973 concerning the recognition and enforcement of decisions relating to maintenance obligations, establish arrangements between the contracting parties for reciprocal recognition and enforcement and rules applicable to legal aid (see "Legal aid - General Information");
  • The Hague Conventions of 1956 and 1973 on the law applicable to maintenance obligations give priority to the law of habitual residence of the child in question or of maintenance creditors in general (or the law of the country of new habitual residence in the case of a change in habitual residence). But there are a number of exceptions:
    • The law governing maintenance obligations between spouses who are divorced or separated is the law applicable to the divorce or separation;

    • The application of the law designated by the Convention may be refused only if it is manifestly incompatible with public policy;

    • In the case of a maintenance obligation between persons related collaterally or by affinity, the debtor may contest a claim by the creditor on the ground that there is no such obligation under the law of their common nationality or the law of the debtor's habitual residence.

    Moreover, the two Conventions differ on certain points:

    • The 1956 Convention determines the law applicable to maintenance obligations only regarding children, while the 1973 Convention applies to maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity, including a maintenance obligation in respect of a child who is not legitimate;
    • The 1956 Convention applies only if the designated law is that of a contracting State, while the 1973 Convention is universal in that it applies even though the applicable law is that of a non-contracting State .
Those divergences give rise to complications. Moreover, the five Conventions are not complementary and do not provide a quick and effective means of tracing debtors who are seeking to evade their obligations. For those reasons consideration is being given to carrying out a general review of those obligations and embodying them in a new general convention on maintenance obligations.

Reference documents

  • New York Convention of 20 June 1956 on the recovery abroad of maintenance (United Nations);
  • Convention concerning the recognition and enforcement of decisions relating to maintenance obligations towards children (The Hague Conference on Private International Law);
  • Convention on the recognition and enforcement of decisions relating to maintenance obligations (The Hague Conference on Private International Law);
  • Convention on the law applicable to maintenance obligations towards children (The Hague Conference on Private International Law);
  • Convention on the law applicable to maintenance obligations (The Hague Conference on Private International Law).

« Maintenance claims - General information | International law - General information »

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Last update: 06-08-2007

 
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