Peter Agius petitions MEPs over woman still fighting for maintenance from ex-husband

Former MEP candidate Peter Agius says cross border enforcement is 'inadequate' with reference to a woman who has not received child maintenance in 11 years because her ex-husband moved to France

File photo
File photo

Former MEP candidate Peter Agius is petitioning the European Parliament on behalf of a Maltese woman fighting to receive maintenance for her ex-husband who lives in France.

The mother of two has been waiting 11 years to receive maintenance despite a Maltese court's ruling on the matter.

The case concerns “Mrs M”, who in 2009 separated from her husband “Mr M”, who then left Malta and went to France. Mrs M was given custody of the couple’s two children, and the local courts decreed that she was owed €1,100 per month from her husband in maintenance. 

“Such maintenance decree which has the full force of the law in Malta was never executed in France, and the monthly maintenance was never paid,” Agius said in the petition.

Agius said that Mrs M sought the help of the European system of recognition of judgements established as per Regulation 4/2009 to enforce the maintenance decree in France.

The former MEP candidate said that the Maltese court decree was submitted to the Maltese National Authorities as per European Law 11 years ago. However, the execution of this law was never put into place. Mrs M was never given a reason as to why the regulation was not put into place.

“The officials in charge at the national authority in Malta refer to ongoing contacts with the French authorities, which have failed to deliver any outcome for 11 long years. Mrs M remains in the dark, without any explanation as to the reasons for the insufferable delay or to the actual state of play on the satisfaction of her due rights.”

Agius said that may be the case of a “dysfunctioning relationship between national authorities in particular cases or a lack of communication with the citizen in others.”

Furthermore, he said that the system required better monitoring to unblock the “bottlenecks” and ensure that every case is prioritised.

“Mrs M has been pushing for her maintenance with the Maltese national authority without ever getting much of an explanation in return, raising her children with hardship, on her own means while these became teenagers from toddlers, without the due support of the maintenance decided by the Maltese court.”

Agius said that having discussed the case with the national authorities himself, he found that no “concrete explanation justifying such delays” was put forward, nor was Mrs M offered any to an appeal.

“In this case, however, we see a total collapse of the system, which is showing itself inadequate to provide solutions,” he said.

The former MEP candidate said that the European Commission should consider putting into place some sort of appeal or review mechanism to an overlying European office when national authorities fail to achieve results for the citizen in their roles as facilitators of recognition of judgments.

Moreover, it should consider whether the system of collaboration between national authorities should be subject to an ad hoc troubleshooting forum where cases without a solution for longer than a predetermined period are discussed in a discrete exchange involving the European Commission with a view of unblocking the pending situation.

“The European project failed Mrs M, and we must see clearly the reasons for this and the ways to secure a result for Mrs M and her children and how to avoid similar delays for other cases,” Agius said.  

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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