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European Commission - Press release

Children and families to benefit from new EU rules on maintenance payments

Brussels, 21 June 2011 - Under new EU-wide rules which apply as of this week, children across the EU will benefit from speedier maintenance payments when families split up. With an estimated 16 million international couples in the EU and 1 million divorces every year, more and more families need to recover maintenance fees when one parent lives abroad and refuses to provide financial help. The new rules set up an EU-wide system for facilitating the recovery of maintenance payments, so that absent parents will no longer be able to evade their obligations.

"The interests of children must always come first. These rules will make sure they will still receive financial support if a parent lives away from them in another EU country," said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner.

At present, Europeans can face problems trying to recover unpaid child support and other forms of maintenance from someone in another EU country, such as when a couple divorces and one parent goes to live abroad. This can have considerable costs to parents and children, both in financial and psychological terms. In addition, governments often have to pay to make up for the defaults of debtors.

The new rules will allow people to effectively recover maintenance claims in cross-border situations. In most cases, a decision on maintenance obligations in one EU country will be enforceable in another one without any special procedure. This will speed up procedures and save parents money. The Regulation also sets up rules on co-operation between central authorities to provide assistance in relation to maintenance applications.


The Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations was adopted on 18 December 2008. The Regulation applies between EU Member States as of 18 June 2011.

At the global level, the 2007 Hague Maintenance Convention sets up a worldwide system for recovering child support and other family maintenance payments. The EU signed the Convention on 6 April 2011 (IP/11/441). The Convention creates a common legal framework between the EU and non-EU countries, so that authorities cooperate in enforcing maintenance claims and debtors can no longer escape by leaving the EU.

The Commission closely monitors the implementation of the Regulation by individual Member States in order to ensure that the requirements of the Regulation are met. The Commission can then take all appropriate measures, if needed.

For more information

Justice Directorate General Newsroom:

Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:

Contacts :

Matthew Newman (+32 2 296 24 06)

Mina Andreeva (+32 2 299 13 82)

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