Swiss Review of International and European Law Logo Schulthess juristische Medien AG
Logo SZIER Zeitschrift

Droits et obligations alimentaires entre êtres humains, droits et obligations entre Etats et intérêt de la Suisse à adhérer aux Conventions de La Haye de 2007 (Gian Paolo Romano)

The existence, scope and duration of maintenance rights and obligations between parents and children, spouses, divorcees, cohabitees, brothers and sisters, stepparents and stepchildren may differ from country to country. When maintenance is owed, it is critical for creditors to receive it quickly and with minimal effort, which is also consistent with interests of society, public assistance having often to step in if creditors do not get support. States have, domestically, been striving for greater efficiency in determining who is entitled to get support from whom, for which amount and how long. An increasing pressure is placed on debtors, including through support enforcement agencies or threat of sanctions, to encourage voluntary payment, reduce litigation and non-compliance with support orders. While States pursue, in the cross-border context, the same objectives, reaching them proves harder due to the potential for inter-country disagreements: Country A may entitle one of its residents, Person 1, to receive maintenance from Person 2, resident in Country B, but Country B may not be willing to impose the corresponding obligation to Person 2 or to impose it for half that amount or simply fails to cooperative with Country A to make sure Person 2 complies. Such disagreements and absence of cooperation, which create international anarchy and increase the public money spent on unneccessary procedures, may effectively be averted through multi-national law only, i.e. through creating schemes of States' mutual rights and obligations. Maintenance is indeed subject to multiple treaties, most of which date back to the fifties and seventies. Entering the 2007 Hague Convention and Protocol - which improve the 1956 New York and the 1973 Hague Conventions by strengthening the States' rights and obligations on a number of points - is likely to enhance the position of Swiss residents while contributing to international justice and prosperity for human beings at large.