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Legal assistance for family law matters

Lawyer Claudia Grassi

tel. +39 051 6440874
VAT number 02615451206

Lawyer Manuela Tirini

tel. +39 051 6446810
VAT number 02615461205

Sottrazione nazionale ed internazionale di minori

Maintenance Obligations

The function of a maintenance obligation is to ensure that those in need receive continuous or periodic supplies of all that is necessary for them to survive, a service closely linked to the economic conditions of the debtor.

Within the scope of the maintenance obligations, the Community institutions have implemented a project to protect the creditor, viewed as the weak chain in the link which requires reliable and timely protection, establishing less formal recognition decision procedures in order to ensure uniformity of solutions and become autonomous as regards national legislation.

The international legal framework concerning maintenance obligations is clearly highly fragmented. At present, in fact, there are four multilateral conventions in force: the Hague Convention dated October 4, 1956 (download pdf Hague Conv. 24/10/1956 - 37 KB) on the law applicable to obligations towards children, the Hague Convention dated April 15, 1958 (download pdf Hague Conv. 15_04_1958 - 41 KB) concerning the recognition and enforcement of decisions concerning matrimonial obligations towards children, whose scope of application is restricted to maintenance obligations towards legitimate, illegitimate or adopted unmarried minors under the age of twenty-one. The two more recent conventions are, however, the Hague Convention dated October 2, 1973 (download pdf Hague Conv. Aja 2/10/1973 - 44 KB) on the law applicable to maintenance obligations and the Hague Convention, also dated October 2, 1973 (download pdf Hague Conv. Aja 1973 - 52 KB) on the recognition and enforcement of decisions concerning maintenance obligations. These Conventions extend their scope of application to all the maintenance obligations in respect of adults and regulate those arising from family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity.

As regards maintenance claims, there is also the Convention for the recovery abroad of maintenance obligations, adopted in New York on June 20, 1956, which allows the maintenance creditor located in the territory of a contracting party, to enforce his/her claims in another contracting State, when the debtor is subject to the jurisdiction of the latter; this, therefore, supports and does not replace the other instruments of national or international law already in force.

Further to the aforementioned Conventions, therare are additional Community instruments which govern particular aspects of maintenance; first and foremost, Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 concerning jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters in European Countries and Council Regulation (EC) 805/2004 (later replaced by EC Regulation 4/2009) (download pdf Reg. UE 4 2009 ENG - 175 KB), establishing the European Enforcement Order Regulation for undisputed claims, i.e. a sum of money due and payable and held by the creditor against the debtor following a judicial decision for uncontested claims by the debtor as to the nature or extent of a debt.

As regards maintenance obligations, one should also mention the Protocol of November 23, 2007 (download pdf HAGUE PROTOCOL 23/11/2007 - 240 KB), which aims to reinforce the certainty and predictability of rights for maintenance creditors and debtors, and the International Convention of November 23, 2007 (download pdf Hague Conv. 23/11/2007 - 560 KB) on the international recovery of maintenance claims concerning children and other family members.
These regulations have been endorsed and implemented in Italy so as to improve cooperation among Member States in matters relating to maintenance obligations, providing procedures which are able to generate accessible, fast, efficient, economical, appropriate and fair results; the aim is to create a flexible system that can be adapted to meet new requirements.

Again at a Community level concerning the recovery of maintenance claims, and replacing the aforementioned Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2001, a further Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 was drawn up relating to the jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations.
Theis Regulation applies to maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage and affinity, but has not been extended to maintenance obligations arising from non-marital relationships between couples, whereby maintenance claims arising from unions other than marriage are not included.
As regards the recognition and enforcement of cross-country measures, the new regulation provides that, in most cases, any judgment exercised by a Member State will also be enforceable in another Member State without the need for intermediate proceedings in order to speed up procedures and save money for families.
Therefore the regulation of the different aspects of this subject, within a single legislative instrument, will safeguard the interests of the maintenance creditor in cross-country claims, creating the conditions to facilitate the adoption of decisions and enforce their execution by the laws of the Member States, other than the original one.

Studio Legale Tirini - Grassi is a qualified law firm and experts on maintenance obligations, capable of promply responding to individual requirements in this judicial area, with relationships based on immediacy, performance, clarity and confidentiality, in line with the style that characterises the highly professional services provided by the law firm owners and its employees.