Child support or Child maintenance refers to the periodic payment made by one parent to the benefit of a child following the end of a marriage or a relationship. The institution of marriage is therefore irrelevant. Child maintenance is paid directly or indirectly by an obligor to an obligee for the care and support of children. Often the obligor is a non-custodial parent.
The parent who applies for child support will be entitled to do so even without French nationality or even without residing in France. It is important to notice that the payment is made exclusively for the benefit of the child and the needs of the obligee or not taken into account.
So, how does a parent go about asking a French judge for child support ?
1- Why apply for child support in France ?
A parent may want to apply for child support if the obligor lives in France. If the Obligee has reasons to believe that the obligor will not return to the country where the child was born. In that case, the only option would be to apply before a French judge.
Furthermore, both parents reserve the right to request a court review for modification after the issuance of the order or if the circumstances have changed such that the child support would change significantly (For instance, if the obligor has a change in income or an increase in mandatory expenses). It also goes both ways. The obligor can request a court review in order to decrease the amount of the child support if the obligee’s income have increased.
2- Establishing paternity
This might seem obvious to some but it is not uncommon to see the applying parent fail to establish the paternal affiliation of the child.
Of course, this is by far the most common case. For instance, a mother will give birth to a child in another country without mentioning the name of the father on the birth certificate or a father will refuse to recognize the child as his own.
On the other hand, it is extremely rare, for obvious reasons, to see a father trying to establish the maternal affiliation of the child.
Therefore, in order to apply for child support, the first step is to establish paternity.
A mother may bring a paternity suit if the child is a minor at that time. Under the provisions of article 311-14 of the French civil code, the law governing the suit will be that of the mother. If the father is French or if he resides in France, it will be necessary to bring the law suit in France while applying the law of the mother.
For example : The mother is Canadian and lives in Canada, while the father lives in France. In this situation the mother may bring the suit in France. The French judge will apply Canadian law.
In order to establish the paternal affiliation of the child, the mother will have to demonstrate that she had a intimate relation with the alleged father at the time the child was conceived (call logs, emails, text messages, letters, common bills, etc).
The mother only has to demonstrate that the suit has merit and that there is sufficient evidence to go further into establishing paternity. If the Court is convinced, a DNA testing will be ordered.
The presumed father can refuse to take the test but the court may view this refusal as a confession of fatherhood. Indeed, because the DNA testing could establish paternity, any refusal is prejudicial to the father, and French courts often draw all inferences from it.
3- Apply for child support
It is possible to obtain child support without establishing paternity but it is very difficult because i twill only rely on the evidence brought by the mother, which is often insufficient.
A claim for child support will be based upon the resources of both parents, their expenses and more importantly the needs of the child. Child support is due to the mother until the child turns 18. Then, child support will be due to the child directly. The majority does not necessarily imply the termination of child support (college fees, etc, …).
You can use the contact form at the end of the home page to contact Terence RICHOUX, attorney at law in Paris. You will receive a response within 24 hours.