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Last update: 23-02-2007
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Maintenance claims - Poland

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. What do the terms “maintenance” and “maintenance claim” mean in Polish law? Who is entitled to maintenance? 1.
2. Up to what age can a child benefit from a maintenance allowance? 2.
3. In what cases is Polish law applicable? 3.
4. If the court does not apply Polish law, what law will apply (if both the claimant and the debtor are in Poland)? 4.
5. How do I apply for maintenance from a court, government department or other organisation? 5.
6. Can an application be made on behalf of a blood relative, a close acquaintance or a minor? 6.
7. How does the claimant know which court has jurisdiction for his/her claim? 7.
8. Does the claimant have to go through a professional intermediary to bring the case to court, or place a claim through the competent authority? 8.
9. Does the claimant have to pay the court costs? If so, how much are they likely to be? If the financial means of the claimant are insufficient, can he/she obtain legal aid to cover the costs of the procedure? 9.
10. How is the level of maintenance calculated in court proceedings? How do changes in the cost of living and family circumstances affect the level of the allowance? 10.
11. Who pays the maintenance allowance, and how? 11.
12. If the maintenance debtor does not pay voluntarily, what action can be taken in order to force him/her to pay? 12.
13. Is there an authority or organisation which helps those with entitlements to obtain maintenance? 13.
14. Can any of these authorities or organisations pay all or part of the maintenance allowance in the debtor's place? 14.
15. Can the maintenance claimant obtain the assistance of an organisation or government department (local or central) in Poland if he/she is resident in Poland but the maintenance debtor lives in another country? 15.
16. If so, how can that organisation or government department be contacted (please give exact names and addresses)? 16.
17. What kind of assistance can the claimant receive from this government department or organisation? 17.
18. Can the maintenance claimant apply directly to such a department or transmitting agency in Poland if he/she is resident in Poland and the maintenance debtor lives in another country? 18.
19. If so, how can that organisation or government department be contacted (please give exact names and addresses)? 19.
20. What kind of assistance can the claimant receive from this government department or organisation? 20.

 

1. What do the terms “maintenance” and “maintenance claim” mean in Polish law? Who is entitled to maintenance?

Under Article 128 of the Family and Guardianship Code, the maintenance obligation is the requirement that a lineal blood relative or sibling provide funds to cover upkeep (including clothes, food, accommodation, fuel and medicines) and also, where necessary, upbringing (including provision for physical and intellectual development and access to education and culture).

Maintenance is an allowance in cash or in kind and, in the case of children, also covers personal input into their upbringing and work in the shared home in compliance with the maintenance obligation.

A maintenance claim is the right of one person to claim from another person fulfilment of the latter's maintenance obligation to the former.

The general principle is that the maintenance obligation arises from various kinds of family relationship. According to the kind of family relationship, Polish law distinguishes between the following types of maintenance obligation:

  1. a maintenance obligation between blood relatives, and the specific category of the child maintenance obligation: In the case of blood relatives, only those in material difficulty are entitled to maintenance. Parents, however, are obliged to provide child maintenance to children who are not yet able to provide for themselves, unless revenue from the child's property is sufficient for his/her maintenance and upbringing. After their eighteenth birthday, children lose their right to maintenance unless they wish to continue their education and their results to date justify such a choice. Moreover, parents are not required to pay maintenance for a child who is over eighteen and, although prepared for employment, takes up further studies and then neglects them, does not make satisfactory progress, does not achieve pass marks and does not take exams within the deadlines set, and so does not complete his/her studies within the time allowed by their study programme;
  2. a maintenance obligation arising from adoption: If the adoption affects exclusively the relationship between the person adopting and the person adopted, the maintenance obligation to the adopted person on the part of the person who adopted takes precedence over the maintenance obligation of the relatives in the ascending line and siblings of the person adopted, while the maintenance obligation of the relatives in the ascending line and siblings comes last. In other respects the principles set out in point 1 apply to the adopted person;
  3. an obligation between persons related by affinity (stepmother, stepfather, stepchildren): Only persons who are in material difficulty are entitled to maintenance, and only if, in the given situation, imposition of the maintenance obligation would be in line with generally accepted social norms. In Polish legislation and jurisprudence, "material difficulty" means not being able to cater for one's reasonable needs from one's own resources and by one's own efforts;
  4. an obligation between spouses while a marriage lasts: Under Article 27 of the Family and Guardianship Code, family members may claim the right to an "equal standard of living" for all family members;
  5. an obligation between spouses after a marriage ends: If only one of the spouses has been held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage and the divorce entails a substantial deterioration in the material situation of the other spouse, the latter may demand that his/her reasonable needs be catered for even if he/she is not in material difficulty. In other cases, a spouse in material difficulty may claim maintenance from his/her former spouse to cover his/her reasonable needs in proportion to the earning capacity and financial situation of the former spouse. A maintenance obligation to a spouse ceases when that spouse remarries. However, where the obligation is borne by a divorced spouse who was not held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, the obligation also ceases five years after the decree of divorce, unless the court rules that the five‑year period be extended at the request of the spouse with the maintenance entitlement and on grounds of exceptional circumstances;
  6. an obligation of the father of a child born out of wedlock to the child's mother: A father who is not the mother's husband must contribute according to his circumstances to the costs associated with the pregnancy and confinement and three months' maintenance costs for the mother in the period of confinement. If there are pressing grounds, the mother may claim a contribution to her maintenance costs for a period of more than three months.

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

The premise for parents' maintenance obligation towards a child is that the child cannot provide for itself. For more information, see point 1.1.

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3. In what cases is Polish law applicable?

The issue of applicable law is governed in Poland by: the Act of 12 November 1965 on Private International Law, the Convention on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations signed in the Hague on of 2 October 1973 and bilateral agreements with Austria, Bulgaria, Belarus, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, North Korea, Rumania, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam (for information on these agreements, see the website of the Polish Justice Ministry: www.ms.gov.pl polski).

Where the Convention or provisions of the bilateral agreements do not provide otherwise, maintenance claims between blood relatives or stepparents and stepchildren are governed by the law of the country of which the person entitled to maintenance is a national. Thus Polish law applies where that person is a Polish national.

4. If the court does not apply Polish law, what law will apply (if both the claimant and the debtor are in Poland)?

The place of residence or domicile of the parties does not affect the choice of applicable law. All that counts is the nationality of the claimant. See point 3.

5. How do I apply for maintenance from a court, government department or other organisation?

Satisfaction of a maintenance entitlement can be obtained through:

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  1. voluntary fulfilment of the maintenance obligation,
  2. conclusion of an agreement on the obligation between the parties or
  3. if the person with a maintenance obligation does not fulfil the obligation, an application to a court to award maintenance.

6. Can an application be made on behalf of a blood relative, a close acquaintance or a minor?

A petition for the award of maintenance may be made on behalf of the person entitled by:

  • a proxy, who may, apart from a lawyer, also be a parent, spouse, sibling, relative in the ascending line or person in an adoptive relationship to the person entitled;
  • a representative of a local authority department responsible for social assistance [under the Act on Social Assistance of 12 March 2004 (Dziennik Ustaw of 2004, No 64, item 593) such representatives are: the manager of a local [gmina] social assistance centre or a district [powiat] family support centre];
  • a representative of a community-based organisation with a remit to assist families [a list of such organisations is set down in a regulation of the Minister of Justice of 10 November 2000 (Dziennik Ustaw of 2002, No 100, item 1080)];
  • a public prosecutor if this is appropriate in the interests of upholding the rule of law and the public interest.

A statutory representative acts for minors entitled to maintenance.

A close acquaintance cannot act on behalf of the person with the entitlement unless that acquaintance is one of the persons listed above.

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7. How does the claimant know which court has jurisdiction for his/her claim?

Under the Civil Procedures Code the court with jurisdiction is the district court. Jurisdiction is determined according to the place of residence of the claimant or the respondent.

Information as to which court has jurisdiction in a particular case may also be obtained from law firms and from the persons referred to in point 15 or from the European Judicial Atlas on the Commission website:
http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/judicialatlascivil/html/index_en.htm.

8. Does the claimant have to go through a professional intermediary to bring the case to court, or place a claim through the competent authority?

Representation by a lawyer is not required in maintenance cases. The claimant may choose to act on his/her own behalf or through a professional intermediary.

See point 9 for specific information on the possibility of having a lawyer appointed by the court to act for the maintenance claimant.

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

Under Polish law the person seeking enforcement of a maintenance claim is exempt from bearing court costs. This exemption is total, i.e. the person concerned does not pay any court costs, appeal costs or enforcement costs.

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In addition, a person enjoying exemption from court costs may apply for legal aid in the form of a lawyer appointed by the court. If the application for a lawyer is granted, the lawyer's fees are covered by the opponent of the party for whom a lawyer is appointed. Where that person loses the case, the lawyer's costs are borne by the State Treasury.

The rights of Member State nationals in this matter are regulated by the Act on the right to assistance in civil proceedings conducted in Member States of the European Union. Information on this Act is contained in the information provided by Poland on legal aid.

10. How is the level of maintenance calculated in court proceedings? How do changes in the cost of living and family circumstances affect the level of the allowance?

The extent of a maintenance allowance depends on the earning and financial capacity of the person required to pay it and on the reasonable needs of the claimant. Reasonable needs include everything which is essential to provide the maintenance of the claimant, not only in material terms but also in other respects (cultural and spiritual). The needs of minors include the costs of their upbringing. In assessing the earning and financial capacity of the person required to pay maintenance, what is taken into account is not the income which he/she actually earns but that which he/she could earn if he/she made full use of his/her earning potential.

Where there is a change in circumstances, a change to the court ruling or maintenance agreement may be requested. Either party to the maintenance relation may request such a change. Depending on the circumstances, they may claim cancellation of the maintenance obligation or an increase or decrease in the amount of maintenance. The conditions for altering the level of the allowance are that either the reasonable needs of the person entitled to maintenance or the earning capacity of the person paying maintenance have increased or decreased.

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11. Who pays the maintenance allowance, and how?

The person named as debtor in the enforceable [court] decision is the person who must pay. The principle is that the cost of the maintenance allowance is to be borne exclusively by the person with the maintenance obligation. If that person does not pay voluntarily, the person entitled to maintenance may apply for enforcement to the competent enforcement authority. Enforcement may be initiated ex officio at the request of the court of first instance which issued the decision establishing the level of maintenance. The person entitled to maintenance may also present the enforceable decision at the debtor's place of work or at the institution paying the debtor's pension and demand that the maintenance due be deducted from the amounts paid to the debtor. This demand is binding on the paying agency.

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

If the person with the maintenance obligation fails to meet that obligation voluntarily, he/she may be forced to do so. See point 11.

Furthermore, under the Penal Code failure to pay maintenance is an offence punishable by a fine, non-custodial measures or imprisonment of up to two years.

13. Is there an authority or organisation which helps those with entitlements to obtain maintenance?

As mentioned in point 6, a petition for award of maintenance can be submitted on behalf of the person with the entitlement by, inter alia, certain community-based organisations, local government representatives responsible for social assistance and, in some cases, the public prosecutor. These organisations and persons can also support the claimant by participating in maintenance proceedings that are already under way. Their role is then to support the person entitled to maintenance in their action before the court.

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14. Can any of these authorities or organisations pay all or part of the maintenance allowance in the debtor's place?

No, none of them may do so.

However, the Act of 22 April 2005 on proceedings against maintenance debtors and on maintenance advances, which came into force on 1 September 2005, provides that, where it is impossible to enforce the maintenance order issued by the court, the local [gmina] office and social assistance centre may award an entitlement to an "advance on maintenance".

Only the persons specified in the Act may apply for an advance. Advances on maintenance are paid by the head of the local authority, the mayor or the city president, according to the place of residence of the maintenance claimant, and may not exceed the amount of maintenance awarded by the court or the amounts specified in the Act. Claimants are entitled to advances in the amount of the maintenance awarded by the court but not paid.

However, if the person entitled to an advance on maintenance is living in an institution providing full-time upkeep (e.g. a social assistance centre, a children's home, a reformatory or in custody) or in a foster family, or has married or has a child and is entitled to a household allowance, the advance will not be awarded to that person.

This Act is applicable only if the person entitled to maintenance resides in Poland.

15. Can the maintenance claimant obtain the assistance of an organisation or government department (local or central) in Poland if he/she is resident in Poland but the maintenance debtor lives in another country?

If the debtor is resident abroad while the maintenance claimant is resident in Poland, the Regional Court [Sąd Okręgowy] competent for the place of residence of the maintenance claimant helps the claimant to draw up an application for maintenance by providing him/her with all the information and assistance necessary to complete the required paperwork and by checking that the application is formally correct.

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16. If so, how can that organisation or government department be contacted (please give exact names and addresses)?

Name of Court

Address

Area code

Tel.

Fax

Switchboard

President

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Bialystok

ul. M.C.Sklodowskiej 1

15-950 Bialystok

085

742-04-41

745-91-00

745-92-00

745-92-17

742-46-40

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Bielsko-Biala

ul. Cieszynska 10

43-300 Bielsko-Biala

033

499-04-99

499-03-16

499-03-18

812-39-15

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Bydgoszcz

ul. Waly Jagiellonskie 2

85-128 Bydgoszcz

052

325-31-00

325-31-04

321-31-01

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Czestochowa

ul. Dabrowskiego 23/35

42-200 Czestochowa

034

324-50-15

324-16-80

324-16-80

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Elblag

Pl. Konstytucji 1

82-300 Elblag

055

611-22-00

611-22-07

611-22-15

611-22-17

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Gliwice

ul. Kosciuszki 15

44-100 Gliwice

032

338-02-00

338-01-01

338-01-02

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Gdansk

ul. Nowe Ogrody 30/34

80-958 Gdansk

058

321-31-99

321-31-00

321-31-01

321-31-04

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Gorzów Wielkopolski

ul. Mieszka I 33

66-400 Gorzów Wielkopolski

095

722-42-80

do 85

720-28-07

720-28-07

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Jelenia Góra

ul. Wojska Polskiego 56

58-500 Jelenia Góra

075

641-51-00

752-24-34

641-51-51

752-51-13

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Kalisz

Al. Wolnosci 13

62-800 Kalisz

062

765-77-00

765-77-64

757-37-04

765-78-50

757-49-36

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Katowice

ul. Andrzeja 16/18

40-957 Katowice

032

251-14-21

251-40-91

251-69-83

251-67-28

251-69-83

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Kielce

ul. Seminaryjska 12

25-372 Kielce

041

340-23-00

344-59-45

344-49-23

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Konin

ul. Energetyka 5

62-510 Konin

063

242-30-22

242-38-16

242-65-69

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Koszalin

ul. Warynskiego 7

75-541 Koszalin

094

-

342-50-71

342-88-04

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Kraków

ul. Przy Rondzie 7

31-547 Kraków

012

619-50-00

619-58-00

619-58-22

619-57-77

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Krosno

ul. Sienkiewicza 12

38-400 Krosno

013

436-84-78

436-85-49

432-05-70

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Legnica

ul. Zlotoryjska 40

59-220 Legnica

076

722-59-00

722-59-11

722-59-12

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Lublin

ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 43

20-076 Lublin

081

535-91-00

do 10

532-08-40

532-99-95

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Lomza

ul. Dworna 16

18-400 Lomza

086

216-62-81

216-38-07

216-67-53

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Lódz

Pl. Dabrowskiego 5

90-921 Lódz

042

677-89-00

677-89-99

677-89-91

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Nowy Sacz

ul. Pijarska 3

33-300 Nowy Sacz

018

443-89-00

443-89-22

443-81-14

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Olsztyn

ul. Dabrowszczaków 44

10-001 Olsztyn

089

523-02-30

523-01-85

527-30-48

527-76-95

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Opole

siedziba tymczasowa

ul. Prószkowska 67

45-758 Opole

077

457-22-64

457-28-33

402-48-35

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Ostroleka

ul. Kosciuszki 19

07-400 Ostroleka

029

764-29-22

764-29-40

764-37-22

764-32-88

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Piotrków Trybunalski

ul. J. Slowackiego 5

97-300 Piotrków Trybunalski

044

-

647-21-94

649-64-14

647-89-19

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Plock

Pl. Narutowicza 4/6

09-404 Plock 6

024

262-52-44

268-85-84

268-85-79

262-25-26

262-25-26

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Poznan

ul. Marcinkowskiego 32

60-967 Poznan

061

856-60-00

852-33-06

852-93-85

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Radom

ul. Marszalka

J. Pilsudskiego 10

26-600 Radom

048

368-02-00

368-03-00

368-03-01

368-03-03

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Rzeszów

Pl. Sreniawitów 3

35-959 Rzeszów

017

875-62-00

875-62-36

862-72-65

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Siedlce

ul. Sadowa 2

08-110 Siedlce

025

632-52-35

do 39

632-62-11

632-61-98

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Sieradz

Al. Zwyciestwa 1

98-200 Sieradz

043

827-13-20

827-12-87

827-10-14

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Slupsk

ul. Zamenhofa 7

76-200 Slupsk

059

842-20-41

do 44

842-83-25

842-83-01

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Suwalki

ul. L.Warynskiego 45

16-400 Suwalki

087

563-13-30

563-13-01

563-13-03

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Szczecin

ul. Kaszubska 42

70-952 Szczecin

091

448-00-02

448-96-36

448-99-15

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Swidnica

Pl. Grunwaldzki 14

58-100 Swidnica

074

851-83-00

851-82-46

851-82-70

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Tarnobrzeg

ul. Sienkiewicza 27

39-400 Tarnobrzeg

015

823-48-80 do 81

823-49-20

823-05-51

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Tarnów

ul. J. Dabrowskiego 27

33-100 Tarnów

014

632-74-00

632-75-00

621-16-38

621-34-74

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Toru

ul. Piekary 51

87-100 Torun

056

610-56-00

610-56-04

655-57-06

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Warsaw

Al. Solidarnosci 127

00-951 Warszawa

022

620-03-71

620-13-57

620-13-57

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Wloclawek

ul. Wojska Polskiego 22

87-800 Wloclawek

054

411-62-00

411-62-05

411-62-05

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Wroclaw

ul. Sadowa 1

50-950 Wroclaw

071

370-42-00

370-42-01

343-64-75

344-49-59

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Zamosc

ul. Akademicka 1

22-400 Zamosc

084

-

638-48-13

639-33-59

Sad Okregowy (Regional Court)

in Zielona Góra

Pl. Slowianski 1

65-958 Zielona Góra

068

-

322-01-40

322-01-41

17. What kind of assistance can the claimant receive from this government department or organisation?

Where a Polish Court is the transmitting agency under the 1956 New York Convention or a bilateral agreement, it gives the maintenance claimant all the necessary information, helps the claimant to complete the required paperwork, checks that the application is formally correct and forwards the application abroad.

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18. Can the maintenance claimant apply directly to such a department or transmitting agency in Poland if he/she is resident in Poland and the maintenance debtor lives in another country?

In situations involving award by a court of a maintenance allowance, a claimant who resides in another country may, where the case falls within the scope of the New York Convention, use the procedure provided for in that Convention and apply to the competent transmitting agency of the country in which he/she is resident.

If the claimant lives in a country with which Poland has a bilateral agreement, assistance is given according to the provisions of that agreement. As a rule, these agreements provide for direct application to the Polish court or application to that court through a court of the country which issued the decision. In other cases the application is transmitted through a central government department - most often the Justice Ministry.

19. If so, how can that organisation or government department be contacted (please give exact names and addresses)?

In cases falling within the scope of the New York Convention, the competent transmitting agencies of the foreign countries are indicated in the declarations of those countries annexed to the Convention, which can be found on the Internet.

20. What kind of assistance can the claimant receive from this government department or organisation?

In cases falling within the scope of the New York Convention, the transmitting agencies of the foreign countries indicated in the declarations annexed to the Convention provide the claimant with all the relevant information, help him/her to complete all the required paperwork, check that the application is formally correct and transmit it to the other country concerned.

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

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Last update: 23-02-2007

 
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