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Last update: 09-10-2007
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Maintenance claims - Lithuania

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What does the concept of maintenance obligation cover? 1.
2. In what circumstances is a person required to pay maintenance to another person? 2.
3. Up to what age is a child entitled to maintenance? 3.
4. Where can I get help for myself or my children? Are there any special bodies I should contact or can the authorities or the courts help? 4.
5. If I want to take someone to court to get them to pay maintenance, how do I know which court has jurisdiction? 5.
6. Can I bring a case on behalf of someone else, i.e. a relative or child who needs support? Do I have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court? If not, what procedures are used? 6.
7. If I do not have sufficient funds, can I get legal aid to cover the costs of the bringing a case? 7.
8. What support can be awarded by a court decision? If an allowance is granted, how much will it be? How it is adjusted to take account of changes in the cost of living or changes of circumstance? 8.
9. How is maintenance paid and who is paid to? 9.
10. If the maintenance debtor doesn't pay voluntarily, what action can be taken to force him or her to pay? 10.
11. Can I get help with recovering maintenance from any special organisation or authorities? 11.
12. Can they pay part or all of the maintenance themselves in place of the debtor? 12.
13. Can I ask for help from any special organisations or authorities in my own country or abroad? 13.
14. What is your address? How can I contact you? Where can I get the forms that I need to fill in? What documents do I need to submit with my application? Do I need to have them translated? Do the documents have to be certified authentic? 14.
15. What aid can foreign institutions grant? 15.
16. Is a court order needed for a Lithuanian or foreign institution or authority to grant me aid? If so, in which country does the decision have to be taken? If in a foreign country, what aid can I be awarded? If I cannot afford to pay the fees, can I still receive legal aid? 16.

 

1. What does the concept of maintenance obligation cover?

The concept of maintenance obligation does not feature in Lithuanian law. However, it is reasonable to conclude from the rules governing maintenance that the obligation extends to: a parent's obligation to provide material maintenance for his or her children below the age of majority; a divorced person's maintenance obligation towards a former marriage partner requiring support (provided the latter was not responsible for the breakdown of the marriage); a separated person's maintenance obligation towards a marriage partner requiring support (provided the latter was not responsible for the separation); an adult child's maintenance obligation towards parents who are unable to work and who require support; the obligation on an adult brother or sister capable of doing so to maintain a brother or sister below the age of majority; the obligation on grandchildren capable of doing so to maintain grandparents who are unable to work and who require support; and the obligation on grandparents capable of doing so to maintain grandchildren below the age of majority who require support.

2. In what circumstances is a person required to pay maintenance to another person?

  • Parents are required to maintain children below the age of majority. If the parent or parents of a child below the age of majority do not fulfil this duty, the courts award maintenance on the basis of a claim made by the child's parents, guardian (trustee), or by the public body responsible for defending the child's rights. Parents who divorce by common consent or who separate must draw up an agreement committing them to providing material maintenance for their children below the age of majority. This agreement must be approved by a court. If one of the parents does not comply with the agreement once it has been approved, the other parent can apply to the court for a writ of execution. If parents divorce or separate without reaching an agreement on maintenance for their children below the age of majority, maintenance will be awarded by a court. Neither the separation of a child from its parents nor the placing of restrictions on parental authority releases parents from their maintenance obligation towards their child.
  • If, in case of divorce, the question of maintenance is not dealt with in a mutual-consent settlement between the marriage partners, the courts will award maintenance to the partner requiring it, providing he or she was not responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. A marriage partner is not entitled to maintenance if his or her own assets or income are sufficient to maintain him or her. It is assumed that a marriage partner will require maintenance if he or she is bringing up a child below the age of majority belonging to him or her and the former marriage partner, and if he or she is prevented from working through old age or ill health.
  • In the event of the death of someone (a former marriage partner or parent) who has been ordered to pay maintenance, the responsibility for paying the maintenance will pass to that person's successors, insofar as the inherited assets allow.
  • When a court makes a decision concerning the separation of a married couple, it awards maintenance to the party requiring it, to be paid by the party responsible for the separation.
  • Adult children are required to maintain parents who are unable to work and who need support. Maintenance is paid on the basis either of a mutual agreement or of a court decision.
  • Adult siblings who are capable of doing so are required to maintain their brothers and sisters below the age of majority if they are orphaned or otherwise unable to obtain maintenance from their parents. The maintenance is given voluntarily or on the basis of a court decision.
  • Adult children who are capable of doing so are required to maintain grandparents who are unable to work and who need support. The maintenance is given voluntarily or on the basis of a court decision.
  • Grandparents who are capable of doing so are required to maintain grandchildren below the age of majority who need support if they are orphaned or otherwise unable to obtain maintenance from their parents. The maintenance is provided voluntarily or on the basis of a court decision.

3. Up to what age is a child entitled to maintenance?

Parents are required to provide materially for their children until they reach the age of majority, i.e. until the age of 18, except in cases where the child is unable to work because of a disability as a result of which he or she is deemed not to have reached the age of majority. Moreover, a parent's material maintenance obligation towards their child does not end when the child reaches the age of majority if the child is still attending day classes at a secondary school, higher-education institution or vocational college, has not yet reached the age of 24 and requires support. Maintenance is awarded to adult children attending day classes at a secondary school, higher-education institution or vocational college until they complete their studies or reach the age of 24, whichever is the sooner.

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4. Where can I get help for myself or my children? Are there any special bodies I should contact or can the authorities or the courts help? 

Claims for maintenance should be made through the courts.

5. If I want to take someone to court to get them to pay maintenance, how do I know which court has jurisdiction? 

Civil cases are always heard by the district courts in the first instance, with one or two exceptions, mentioned in the Lithuanian Civil Code. As a rule, the location of the court will depend on the defendant's place of residence. However, maintenance claims may also be dealt with by the court with jurisdiction over the claimant's place of residence. So, claims may be made either in the court where the defendant lives or in the court where the claimant lives. The territorial jurisdiction of the district courts is governed by the Law of 15 June 1994 establishing the Supreme Court of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Court of Appeals and the regional courts, determining the territorial jurisdiction of the regional and district courts and reforming the Lithuanian Prosecutor's Office.

6. Can I bring a case on behalf of someone else, i.e. a relative or child who needs support? Do I have to go through an intermediary to bring the case to court? If not, what procedures are used?

Claims for the awarding of maintenance for a child may be brought to court by one of the child's parents, a guardian (trustee) or a public body responsible for defending the child's rights.

In other cases, claims are brought by the person requiring maintenance themselves.

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7. If I do not have sufficient funds, can I get legal aid to cover the costs of the bringing a case?

Under the Lithuanian Civil Code, the cost of bringing a case comprises official fees and the cost of court proceedings. Under Article 83(1) of the Code, in cases relating to maintenance, claimants are exempted from paying the official fee. Under the Lithuanian Law on public legal aid, Lithuanian citizens, citizens of other EU Member States and other natural persons legally resident in Lithuania or another EU Member State are entitled to secondary legal aid, which also covers the cost of bringing cases heard in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure, provided their assets and annual income do not exceed the limits set by the Lithuanian Government for the provision of legal aid. However citizens of other EU Member States and natural persons legally resident in other EU Member States are eligible for legal aid only for cross-border disputes. Secondary legal aid may also be claimed, regardless of the asset and income levels set by the Lithuanian Government for the provision of legal aid, by people eligible for a social allowance under the Lithuanian Law on cash social assistance for low-income families (single residents) lietuviu kalba, and people able to prove that they cannot dispose of their property and funds for objective reasons and that the property and annual income of which they can freely dispose do not therefore exceed the asset and income levels established by the Lithuanian Government Lithuania for the provision of legal aid. (For more information, go to www.teisinepagalba.lt).

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8. What support can be awarded by a court decision? If an allowance is granted, how much will it be? How it is adjusted to take account of changes in the cost of living or changes of circumstance?

Maintenance awarded to a former marriage partner may take the form of a one-off payment, a regular monthly payment or a transfer of assets. When a couple divorces or separates and a court decides whether to award maintenance to the party requiring it and, if so, how much to award, it must take account of the duration of the marriage, the need for maintenance, both parties' financial situation, health, age and fitness for work, the ability of an unemployed partner to find work and other significant factors. If maintenance has been awarded in the form of regular payments, either of the former marriage partners may, following a fundamental change in circumstances, apply to have the amount of maintenance increased or reduced or to stop paying it altogether.

A child below the age of majority may be awarded maintenance in the form of a regular monthly payment, a sum of money or a transfer of assets. The amount of maintenance must be proportionate to the child's needs and to its parents' financial situation and must be sufficient to provide the necessary conditions for the child to develop. If, after a court decision awarding maintenance, there is a fundamental change in the parties' financial situation, the court may, at the request of the child, the father, the mother, a public body responsible for defending the child's rights or the public prosecutor, reduce or increase the amount of maintenance and change the form of maintenance. The possible grounds for applying to have the amount of maintenance changed include an improvement or deterioration in the father or mother's financial situation or a change in the child's needs, for example. The amount of maintenance may be increased as the result of additional childcare costs (if the child is ill or injured or requires care or constant supervision). If necessary, the court may order the cost of any treatment required by child to be paid.

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9. How is maintenance paid and who is paid to?

The court will decide how maintenance is to be paid: as a one-off lump sum, as a regular monthly payment or through a transfer of assets. The maintenance will be paid to the former marriage partner who needs it (current marriage partner in the case of a separation).

With regard to maintenance for a child below the age or majority, the court must award the maintenance to the child but also appoint the child's father, mother or guardian (trustee), responsible for looking after the child's interests, to administer the funds. The child's father or mother holds the child's maintenance by usufruct. If the child has a guardian (trustee), the maintenance is awarded to the child. The guardian (trustee) is appointed as administrator of the funds and assets.

10. If the maintenance debtor doesn't pay voluntarily, what action can be taken to force him or her to pay?

If the person responsible for paying the maintenance does not comply with the court's decision awarding the maintenance, the person benefiting from the court's decision (i.e. the petitioner) can apply to the court in writing for a writ of execution. If one of the parents does not comply with an agreement for child maintenance once it has been approved, the other parent can apply to the court for a writ of execution. The petitioner appoints a bailiff to enforce the writ or court order. See answer to question 11.

If necessary, the court may, in relation to a decision awarding child maintenance, order the child's parents (or one of them) to mortgage their property. Failure to comply with a court decision concerning the recovery of maintenance will result in the maintenance being recovered from the mortgaged property in accordance with the relevant laws. The same procedure is used for the maintenance of former marriage partners in case of divorce or partners in case of separation.

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11. Can I get help with recovering maintenance from any special organisation or authorities?

A bailiff will assist you with the execution of court decisions, taking measures to enforce it if necessary. A bailiff is a person appointed and empowered by the state to perform compulsory enforcement of execution titles, to ascertain facts, serve documents and perform other duties laid down by law.

On receiving a writ or court order, a bailiff will start enforcement, acting in accordance with procedures laid down by law. He can summon the debtor and the person owed the money, ask them to propose ways of complying with the court's decision, and send the debtor reminders. If the debtor fails to comply the with court's decision within the time limit stipulated in the reminder, the bailiff will start enforcement no more than ten days after the end of the time limit for compliance. The maintenance is recovered from the debtor's salary and all other forms of income. If a person fails to pay the regular maintenance payments he or she has been ordered to pay but does not work and has no other source of income, the maintenance will be recovered from his or her assets.

12. Can they pay part or all of the maintenance themselves in place of the debtor?

No. However, the state will maintain children below the age of majority who, for a period of more than one month, do not receive maintenance from their father, mother or other close relative capable of maintaining them. The state's contribution to the child's maintenance takes the form of social assistance.

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IF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING MAINTENANCE LIVES ABROAD:

13. Can I ask for help from any special organisations or authorities in my own country or abroad?

For a Lithuanian court decision awarding maintenance to be executed abroad, it must be recognised and declared enforceable by the relevant courts in the country in question. The procedure for the recognition and enforcement of court decisions in EU Member States is laid down by Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. Anyone wishing to have a Lithuanian court decision recognised abroad must submit the request to the relevant foreign court or institution themselves, along with any other documents that may be required.

Under the Lithuanian Law on state legal aid, primary legal aid (e.g. legal advice and consultations etc.) may be granted to interested parties. The entitlement to primary legal aid extends to all Lithuanian citizens, citizens of other EU Member States, other natural persons legally resident in Lithuania or another EU Member State and other people mentioned in international treaties to which Lithuania is party.

Requests for legal aid may be submitted directly to the relevant institution in the EU Member State which the applicant wants to recognise the court decision. Requests may also be submitted via the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice, as the sending institution. The request must be translated into the official language of the EU Member State lietuviu kalba or one of that country's official languages that is also an official language of the Community institutions or another language which is acceptable to the other Member State and has been notified as such to the Commission. (For further information, see Article 29 of the Lithuanian Law on public legal aid, e.g. on this website: www.teisinepagalba.lt).

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14. What is your address? How can I contact you? Where can I get the forms that I need to fill in? What documents do I need to submit with my application? Do I need to have them translated? Do the documents have to be certified authentic?

The application should be submitted to the relevant court or institution with jurisdiction over the debtor's place of residence abroad. The relevant courts and institutions are specified in Annex II to the Regulation referred to in the answer to Question 13 and in the European Judicial Atlas in Civil Matters (/justice_home/judicialatlascivil/html/index_en.htm). The request should be accompanied by a copy of the Lithuanian court decision for which recognition is being requested and the standard form from the first instance court that handed down the decision. (The form can be downloaded in Lithuanian from the Lithuanian Justice Ministry's website. Click on the "Bendradarbiavimas" tab on the homepage at www.tm.lt, then on "dokumentų formos" from the side menu). If the court or competent authority so requires, a translation of the documents must be submitted. The translation must be certified by a person qualified to do so in one of the Member States. Forms completed and documents issued by a court must be authenticated by the official stamp of the court.

If you wish to claim primary legal from the state aid in Lithuania, you must apply to the executive institution of the municipality of your declared place of residence or, if you have no declared place of residence, to the executive institution of the municipality where you live.

15. What aid can foreign institutions grant?

Competent institutions in other EU Member States will provide information on the application procedure, requirements concerning the form of the application and other information relating to recognition and enforcement of Lithuanian court decisions in the Member State in question.

16. Is a court order needed for a Lithuanian or foreign institution or authority to grant me aid? If so, in which country does the decision have to be taken? If in a foreign country, what aid can I be awarded? If I cannot afford to pay the fees, can I still receive legal aid?

No court order is required for legal aid to be awarded to people in Lithuania. Primary legal aid must be provided immediately upon the application of a person to a municipality's executive institution. If it cannot be provided immediately, the applicant must be given an indication of when, within the next five days, it will be. The legal aid will be provided free of charge.

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Last update: 09-10-2007

 
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