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Last update: 22-08-2007
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Maintenance claims - Latvia

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What do the concepts «maintenance» and «maintenance obligation» cover according to the law of Latvia? 1.
2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance? 2.
3. In which cases is the law of Latvia applicable? 3.
4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of Latvia apply? If both the person who asks for maintenance and debtor are in Latvia? 4.
5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organisation, a government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance? 5.
5.A. How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department (central or local) , and what procedures apply? 5.A.
6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age? 6.
7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court how does he/she know which court has jurisdiction? 7.
8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organisation or government department (central or local) etc.) ? If not, which procedures? 8.
9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure? 9.
10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted how will it be assessed? Can the court’s decision be revised to take account of changes in the costs of living or family circumstances? 10.
11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid? 11.
12. If the maintenance debtor doesn’t pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay? 12.
13. Is there an organisation or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance? 13.
14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her place? 14.
15. Can the petitioner obtain the assistance of an organisation or government department (central or local) in Latvia? 15.
16. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted? 16.
17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)? 17.
18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organisation or government department (central or local) in Latvia? 18.
19. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted? 19.
20. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)? 20.

 

1. What do the concepts «maintenance» and «maintenance obligation» cover according to the law of Latvia?

The Latvian national legislation does not provide for a comprehensive definition of maintenance and maintenance obligation, however, there exists common understanding of certain issues related to maintenance matters. For example, maintenance for a child means the child support – expenditures which each and every parent is obligated to provide to the child regardless of their financial situation and which minimal amount is prescribed by the Cabinet of Ministers. The definition of the child maintenance is provided in the Maintenance Guarantee Fund Law. However by developing of the case law there exists common understanding of certain issues related to maintenance matters without reference to the title of them (maintenance, maintenance obligation or means for subsistence). For instance, there also exists common understanding of maintenance matters concerning spouses, namely: maintenance means long-term financial aid provided by one spouse to another due to worsening of financial situation.

Which persons have to pay a «maintenance allowance» to another person?

- parents to their children?

Parents of a child are obligated to provide maintenance for the child until the child is able to support himself/herself. Therefore, the obligation to provide maintenance for a child is not limited to reaching by the child of major age. If, however, the child has already reached major age, the court may assess whether or not claim for maintenance should be satisfied, especially where the child who has reached major age does not pursue continued education or professional training or where the child is able to obtain means through his or her own work, but avoids to do so. It should be taken into account that the obligation of parents to provide maintenance for their children has to be commensurate to the financial situation of each parent. Each parent is obligated, however, to provide the minimum amount of maintenance prescribed by the Cabinet of Ministers, regardless of the parents’ financial situation. The obligation to support the child is binding regardless of whether the child resides with one of the parents or lives separately.

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To provide maintenance for a child means to provide him/her with food, clothing, housing and health care; caring for, educating and raising the child (providing both mental and physical development, with due regard to his/her individual personality, skills and interests, and preparing the child to public-profitable activity).

- children to their parents ?

Obligation of the children to provide maintenance for parents lies upon all of the children equally. If the respective financial situations of the children are unequal, a court may determine their obligation to provide maintenance for parents commensurately to the financial situation of each child.

- a divorced spouse to the former spouse ?
  1. if a marriage is annulled and one of the former spouses was aware of the eventual annulment of marriage at the time of its conclusion, then the other spouse is entitled to claim from the former spouse means commensurately to his/her financial situation if such means are necessary to maintain the previous level of welfare or to provide subsistence
  2. upon or after divorce, the former spouse may claim from the other spouse commensurately to the latter’s financial situation if the latter has by his/her actions contributed that the marriage fails the means necessary to maintain the previous level of welfare or to provide subsistence.
- Other?
- grandparents to children?

If there are no parents or they are unable to provide maintenance for the child, this obligation shall lie upon the grandparents equally. If the respective financial situation of the grandparents is unequal, a court may determine their obligation commensurately to the financial situation of each grandparent.

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- children to their grandparents?

Obligation to provide maintenance also for grandparents, if necessary, lies upon all of the children equally. If the respective financial situation of the children is unequal, a court may determine their obligation commensurately to the financial situation of each child.

- spouse to the other spouse?

If spouses live separately, a spouse may, if necessary: 1) claim from the other spouse, who has promoted separated life commensurately to his/her financial situation, means in order to maintain equivalent level of welfare; or 2) claim from the other spouse, who has promoted separated life commensurately to his/her financial situation, means for subsistence, by which is meant food, clothing, housing and, in case of need, personal care.

- maintenance obligations arising from contractual maintenance obligations?

The parties can agree on maintenance (obligations) and the manner of payment thereof in a maintenance contract. Pursuant to a maintenance contract, one party provides the other party, whether in payments of money or in another kind of financial benefit, for which the other party shall provide maintenance to the party during the life of the recipient of maintenance, unless otherwise agreed regarding the duration of such obligation. Maintenance shall include, unless otherwise agreed, food, housing, clothing and care, but if the recipient of maintenance is a minor, also raising and education in primary education establishments.

-maintenance obligations arising from personal injury?

Maintenance obligations can also arise as obligations arising from personal injury. Such maintenance obligation is considered as a part of liability to compensate damages caused by personal injury to another person. Thus, in situations, where the injured person, having the maintenance obligation towards someone, dies from injury, the obligation shall pass over to the person who is at fault for his/her death. The amount of such compensation shall be determined at the discretion of a court, taking into account the age of deceased, his/her ability to provide subsistence at time of living, and, finally, the need of the person to be provided with maintenance. If the person to be provided with maintenance has sufficient means, the maintenance obligation shall cease.

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2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance?

The parents are obligated to provide maintenance for their child commensurately to their financial situation, until the child is able to support himself/herself. Therefore, pursuant to the Latvian national (Civil Law) legislative, the maintenance obligations in relation to a child are not limited to reaching major age by the child.

3. In which cases is the law of Latvia applicable?

The Latvian law is applicable to the matters of maintenance obligation, taking into consideration the above mentioned common understanding of certain issues related to maintenance and different types of legal relations. For example:

  1. legal relationship between the children and parents are governed by the Latvian law where the place of residence of a child is in Latvia
    In respect of such property that is located in Latvia, parents and children are subject to Latvian law notwithstanding the fact that the place of residence determined for a child is not in Latvia
  2. personal and property relationships of spouses are governed by the Latvian law where the place of residence of the spouses is in Latvia
    If property of the spouses is located in Latvia, they, in respect of such property, shall be subject to the Latvian law notwithstanding the fact that they themselves do not have a place of residence in Latvia
  3. concerning contractual rights and obligations, mutual relationship of the contracting parties is subject to the Latvian law where the contracting parties have agreed so (e.g. in relation to maintenance obligations arising from contractual maintenance obligations).
  4. non-contractual obligations, in respect of their substance and consequences, are subject to the Latvian law, if the ground giving rise to the obligation, was in Latvia (maintenance obligations arising from personal injury, for example).

4. If this law is not applicable, which law will the courts of Latvia apply? If both the person who asks for maintenance and debtor are in Latvia?

Foreign law is applicable to such legal relationships between the children and parents where a child does not have place of residence in Latvia and the property related to such relations is not located in Latvia

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  • Foreign law is applicable to personal and property relations of spouses if they do not have a place of residence in Latvia and property of the spouses is not located in Latvia
  • In all the above-specified cases, foreign law is applicable insofar as it does not conflict with mandatory or imperative norms of the Latvian law.

5. Should the applicant apply to a specific organisation, a government department (central or local) or a court to obtain maintenance?

The applicant in order to obtain maintenance (maintenance obligation or means for subsistence) has to apply to a court in accordance with the procedure stipulated in the Civil Procedure Law.

Latvia has established the Maintenance Guarantee Fund designed to provide maintenance for minor children from the assets of state budget. The holder of the assets is the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund. The Administration of the Fund is subordinated to the Ministry for Children and Family Affairs.

Maintenance may be obtained from the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund under the precondition that maintenance is first attempted to recover via court proceedings; then, in case of failure of enforcement, the applicant is entitled to apply to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund.

The Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund only awards maintenance allowance, where the enforcement of a court decision on recovery of maintenance in accordance with the applicable civil procedure, i.e., the Civil Procedure Law, has been declared as failed or if the debtor complies with the decision of the court decision awarding maintenance, however fails to provide the prescribed minimum amount of maintenance.

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5.A. How do I apply for maintenance from this organisation or government department (central or local) , and what procedures apply?

To apply for maintenance from the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund:

  1. the applicant may apply directly to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund submitting the application and the following documents:
    • transcription of the court decision granting maintenance;
    • certificate issued by the bailiff that confirms that enforcement against the debtor of a decision awarding maintenance failed or that the debtor complies with the decision of the court awarding maintenance allowance, however fails to provide the prescribed minimum amount of maintenance. This certificate is valid for submitting to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund within one month from the date of its issuance;
    • copy of the child’s birth certificate (the original should be presented);
    • power of attorney or a copy thereof (the original should be presented) in the event maintenance claimed by authorized representative.
  2. the applicant may also send by post the application subject to the following conditions:
    • the applicant’s signature on the application must be certified by a notary;
    • the following documents shall be enclosed with the application:
      • transcription of the court decision granting maintenance;
      • certificate issued by the bailiff that confirms that enforcement against the debtor of a decision awarding maintenance failed or that the debtor complies with the decision of the court awarding maintenance, however fails to provide the prescribed minimum amount of maintenance;
      • copy of the child’s birth certificate authenticity of which is certified by notary;
      • power of attorney or a copy authenticity of which is certified by notary where maintenance is claimed by authorised representative.

6. Can a request be made on behalf of a relative, a close relation, or a child under age?

Yes, authorized representative may bring a claim on behalf on a relative or a close relation.

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In case of minor children, the claim may be brought on their behalf by their parents or other holders of the parental responsibility rights over the child.

7. If the applicant plans to bring the case to court how does he/she know which court has jurisdiction?

The claims for the recovery of maintenance (maintenance obligation or means for subsistence) are examined by the competent district (city) court in accordance with the provisions on jurisdiction.

In Latvia, the district (city) court has jurisdiction to examine the claims for the recovery of maintenance (maintenance obligation or means for subsistence) :

  • in accordance with the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters;
  • in accordance with the provisions of bilateral or multilateral international treaties binding upon the Republic of Latvia;
  • pursuant to the Civil Procedure Law except if the provisions of Regulation 44/2001 or provisions of bilateral or multilateral international treaties binding upon the Republic of Latvia apply:
    • an action against defendant may be brought in a court in accordance with his/her place of residence;
    • an action against defendant whose place of residence is unknown, or who has no permanent place of residence in Latvia, may be brought in a court in accordance with the location of his/her immovable property or his/her last known place of residence;
    • an action regarding recovery of maintenance may also be brought in accordance with the place of residence of the plaintiff;
    • an action arising out of maintenance obligations arising from personal injury (private delicts) which have resulted in mutilation or other damage to health, or the death of a person, may also be made according to the place of residence of the plaintiff or the location where the delicts were inflicted.

8. Does the applicant have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court (e.g. a lawyer, specific organisation or government department (central or local) etc.) ? If not, which procedures?

No, the applicant is not bound to pursue any reconciliation steps prior to examination of the claim before court.

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However, preparing a case for the trial the judge shall strive to reconcile the parties. Therefore, the parties are encouraged to seek settlement of their claims still prior to examination of the claim before court.

It also has to be emphasised that the parties may agree on the matters of maintenance without bringing the claim to court.

9. Does the applicant have to pay fees to bring a case to court? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the plaintiff are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure?

Plaintiffs are exempted from payment of court costs (state fees, office fees and costs related to adjudicating a matter) to the State in claims regarding recovery of maintenance payments;

Plaintiffs are exempted from payment of court costs (state fees, office fees and costs related to adjudicating a matter) to the State in regard to claims arising from personal injuries that result in mutilation or other damage to health, or the death of a person;

Defendants are exempted in matters regarding reduction of maintenance payments awarded by a court, and reduction of such payments as the court has assessed in claims arising from personal injuries resulting in mutilation or other damage to health, or the death of a person;

In general, the state provides legal aid if the particular situation, financial situation and overall income level of the person causes objective difficulties for that person to ensure appropriate protection of his/her rights. Legal aid is granted in accordance with provisions of the Law on state provided legal aid.

In general, legal aid covers the costs related to preparing of the procedural documents, legal advice during the proceedings, representation before court and enforcement of court decision.

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10. What kind of maintenance is likely to be granted by the court? If an allowance is granted how will it be assessed? Can the court’s decision be revised to take account of changes in the costs of living or family circumstances?

When the court grants maintenance for a child, it may grant them in the form of definite amount of means, but when the court grant maintenance obligation or means for subsistence, it may grant them in other values, such as food, clothing, housing, etc., or both.

To assess and grant definite amount of maintenance payments (maintenance obligation or means for subsistence) , the court shall first take into account the financial situation of the parties as well as their living and family circumstances, giving due consideration to the evidences provided by the parties.

Alteration of the amount and recovery period of the granted maintenance payments (maintenance obligation or means for subsistence) , as well as exemption from the maintenance payments is only available on the grounds of a new claim made by the party concerned. Therefore, the court may, on the basis of the changes in the costs of living or family circumstances, pursue new proceedings to review the amount of granted maintenance.

11. How and to whom will the maintenance be paid?

The debtor shall pay maintenance to the maintenance creditor. Where a parent on behalf of a minor child brings the claim or other holder of the parental responsibility rights over the child brings such claim, the maintenance will be paid to such parent or other holder of parental responsibility rights over a child instead of the child himself/herself. Traditionally, maintenance is paid on periodical basis in certain amounts, e.g. such as salary deductions; less often it takes the form of other values.

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12. If the maintenance debtor doesn’t pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay?

If the debtor fails to pay maintenance on voluntary basis to the person in favour of whom it has been granted, a writ of execution has to be obtained from the court that delivered the judgment or decision. Then, the writ of execution should be submitted for enforcement to the bailiff within 10 years from coming into lawful effect of the court decision, except where other lapse periods apply. The bailiff shall commence compulsory enforcement pursuant to an application in writing by a person in favour of whom the maintenance payments were awarded. The bailiff is bound to accept the writ of execution for enforcement if either the place of residence of the debtor or location of his or her property, or workplace falls in the jurisdiction of the bailiff’s office region.

13. Is there an organisation or government department (central or local) which can help me to recover maintenance?

  1. The person can apply to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund to recover maintenance for a minor child where the enforcement of the court decision on recovery of maintenance in accordance with the applicable civil procedure has been declared as failed or if the debtor complies with the court decision on maintenance allowance, however fails to provide the prescribed minimum amount of maintenance.
  2. Where the person needs to recognise and enforce abroad a decision or judgment given by the court in Latvia or to recognise and enforce a decision given by foreign court in Latvia, the Ministry of Justice is available to provide assistance and information on procedure how to submit court decision or judgment for recognition and enforcement.

14. Can they replace the debtor and pay the maintenance themselves or part of the maintenance in his or her place?

The Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund can replace the debtor if the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund has recovered maintenance for a minor child (see Questions 5 and 5A). Where the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund has recovered maintenance, it is entitled to pursue recovery of the paid amounts.

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If the petitioner is in Latvia and the maintenance debtor has his/her residence in another country :

If the petitioner is in Latvia and the maintenance debtor has his/her residence in another country, the petitioner can still apply to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund, where the enforcement court decision on recovery of maintenance in accordance with the applicable civil procedure has been declared as failed or if the debtor complies with the court decision on maintenance allowance, however fails to provide the prescribed minimum amount of maintenance. Prior to applying to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund, the petitioner should submit the court decision for recognition and enforcement to the respective other country if the debtor resides in such other country and he or she has no property in Latvia that could be subjected to enforcement. If enforcement of the decision in other country is not available or also failed, the petitioner can apply to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund.

15. Can the petitioner obtain the assistance of an organisation or government department (central or local) in Latvia?

A person can apply to the Ministry of Justice and the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund for assistance with the relevant application (see Questions 5 and 5.A.).

16. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted?

Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Latvia

Brivibas blvd. 36, Riga,

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LV-1536

Telephone: +371 7036801, +371 7036716

Fax: +371 7210823, +371 7285575

E-mail: tm.kanceleja@tm.gov.lv

Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund

Pulkveža Brieža street 115, Riga,

LV-1010

Telephone: +371 7830626

Fax: +371 7830636

E-mail: pasts@ugf.gov.lv

17. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)?

If the petitioner is pursuing recognition abroad of a decision made in Latvia or recognition in Latvia of a foreign court decision, the Ministry of Justice is available to provide assistance to such person for the submission to the court respective decision or judgment for recognition and enforcement. Also, assistance of informative nature concerning the above mentioned issues can be obtained from the Ministry of Justice.

On the turn, the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund can replace the debtor and pay maintenance for a minor child as well as render informative assistance in maintenance matters (See Questions 5 and 5A).

If the petitioner is in another country and the maintenance debtor is in Latvia:

If the petitioner is in another country and the maintenance debtor is in Latvia, it would not be always possible to provide above mentioned assistance, in particular, when a person wants to apply for maintenance for a minor child from the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund.

18. Can the petitioner address directly a request to an organisation or government department (central or local) in Latvia?

If the petitioner is pursuing recognition abroad of a decision or judgment given by a court in Latvia or recognition in Latvia of a decision or judgment of a foreign court, he/she can submit to the Ministry of Justice all the documents necessary for recognition and enforcement of the court decision.

To recover maintenance for a minor child from the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund, the applicant can apply directly to the Administration of the Maintenance Guarantee Fund submitting the application and required documents.

19. If so, how can that organisation or government department (central or local) be contacted?

See Question 16.

20. What kind of assistance can the petitioner receive from this organisation or government department (central or local)?

See Question 17.

Further information

« Maintenance claims - General information | Latvia - General information »

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Last update: 22-08-2007

 
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