Maintenance matters are never an easy matter. In addition, everything becomes more complicated when we deal with so-called cross-border cases, when the child is permanently residing in another country than the one whose parents (or one of the parents) are citizens. Until recently, the highly questionable issue was to answer the question which court should decide on maintenance for the child. Disputes on this subject finally decided to dispel the Court of Justice of the European Union (file reference C-184/14) stating that in the subject of these maintenance is competent the court of the state in which the descendant resides.
What does this mean in practice?
According to the law in force, if the child’s place of residence is Poland, the Polish court will be competent in the maintenance case concerning him. It is not important in this case that the matter of divorce or separation of parents was considered by a court of another state.
How is the alimony for a child residing in Poland from a parent living abroad being enforced?
Everything depends on the country in which the parent obliged to pay maintenance (the debtor) is staying. If a final judgment has already been issued, under which the court has granted maintenance to the child, the next step in enforcing these benefits will be to determine where the obligor is currently located. If it is a European Union country, the basis for enforcement will be Council Regulation (EC) No. 4/2009. A person entitled, through the district court competent for his / her place of residence, may apply to the central office in a foreign State for assistance. It is the office that will be burdened with the obligation to enforce the benefit. If, however, the debtor stays in a state such as the United States, the New York Convention will be the basis for pursuing maintenance claims.
A few words about the maintenance obligation
It is worth mentioning that the parents have a maintenance obligation regardless of whether they are on the territory of the Polish state or not. The fact that one of the parents has left the country (or is a citizen of another country) and as a result lives in a country where another legal system is in force does not mean that his maintenance obligation towards the child staying in Poland has ceased. Accordingly, if a parent who has emigrated evades his obligations to his offspring, in any such case it is possible to enforce the child’s rights in court. In proceedings before a court, the interests of a minor child will be represented by a second parent or legal guardian. Adult children can, on the other hand, claim their rights by filing an appropriate lawsuit.
The defendant’s participation in court proceedings
A parent who lives outside the country may take an active part in the proceedings. If, however, he decides not to do so, he should take into account that the court may issue a default judgment in the case.