EU sets out new international rules to collect child assistance

The EU presented new rules Thursday to make it easier for parents to claim support from a partner who lives in another EU country. The European Commission said there was a "genuine social need" for simple affordable procedures to chase people who owed debts to someone in another member state. "Children are the most important maintenance creditors," it said. "The growing number of separated couples and one-parent families automatically boosts the number of children with a claim for maintenance payments."

One in three European marriages ends in divorce, the Commission said, and some 6 million Europeans live outside their home nation. Couples of mixed nationality make up 4 percent of the EU's 92 million households. The EU head office said better rules to recover debts would improve the living and schooling conditions of large numbers of children.

It wants to allow creditors to be able to take their claim to a local court and make any payment order enforceable in all 25 EU nations. This should make it easier for parents to track down and demand direct payment from an ex-partner's wages or bank accounts even if he or she lives in another country.

Currently EU countries apply different rules on reclaiming cross-border debt. The EU said creditors still face far too many formalities to get an enforcement order and still have problems claiming money because EU rules do not cover cooperation between national authorities. The new rules need the support of all EU governments before they can enter into force.

The EU also wants governments to back new rules, known as Rome I, which allows businesses or individuals choose the law which applies to a civil contract if international conventions for a certain sector are more relevant than national law. The Commission said current rules leave the national courts with wide discretion on what law should apply "which turned out to be a source of uncertainty" for businesses, reports the AP. N.U.

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