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Do you have to help your parents or in-laws in need?

Verified 04 March 2020 - Directorate of Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister), Ministry of Justice

Children have an obligation to help a parent who is unable to provide for himself or herself. This obligation maintenance obligation, which results in financial assistance or in kind, which varies according to the child's and parent's resources and expenses.

The descendants have an obligation to help their parents or others ascending in need.

Constables and daughters-in-law must also help their needy in-laws. That is called the payment food.. This obligation ends in the event of divorce. It shall also cease in the event of the death of the spouse and the absence of a child born out of wedlock or when the latter have died.

The child may be exempted by the judge from this obligation if the parent has himself seriously failed to fulfill his obligations towards him (violence, abandonment of family...).

Withdrawal of parental authority means that the child is exempted from the maintenance obligation unless otherwise provided in the withdrawal judgment.

Children who have been removed from their family environment are also exempted from providing such assistance unless the judge decides otherwise. Withdrawal must be for a period of at least 36 cumulative months before the age of 12.

The parent claiming the maintenance obligation must be in need, that is to say, unable to provide for his/her livelihood (food, clothing, housing, health...).

He has to prove it.

The child must have sufficient resources. All his income is taken into account. He must prove the mandatory expenses he claims if he wants the judge to take them into account.

If his spouse has not been personally summoned or assigned, his resources are not taken into account.

The income of the spouse or common-law partner shall not be taken into account in the calculation of the maintenance obligation. On the other hand, the judge will take into account the burden-sharing (example: rent) from which the food obligee may benefit.

The duty to provide assistance between spouses takes precedence over the child's obligation to provide support. For example, if the mother is in need, it will first be up to her husband to pay the debt. It is only if his income is not sufficient that children will be solicited.

If the pension is not sufficient to pay the retirement home or theEhpad: titleContent, it is proof that the pensioner is in need and his children may be required to pay the part relating to food..

The maintenance obligation may be fixed:

  • by mutual agreement between the parent and the descendant,
  • by the Family Court Judge (Jaf) of the court to which the parent or child is subject (in the event of referral by the parent).

The judge will determine, in the judgment, the food contribution taking into account the situation of the 2 parties.

The food contribution may take various forms: free accommodation, food or money (board).


A child who does not pay maintenance to a parent for more than 2 months commits an offense of abandonment of the family.

The offense of abandonment of a family shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years and by €15,000 no more than a fine.

A letter must be sent by the parent to the public prosecutor the court on which the residence of his or her descendant or his or her own depends.

Remedy of a third party who provided for the parent

A third party (a person outside the family or organization) who has provided for the parent (in place of the child) may turn against the debtor.. The most common actions are:

  • the use of the department's services for the recovery of social assistance payments,
  • the use of public health institutions for the recovery of costs of hospitalization or nursing home accommodation.

A letter must be addressed to the public prosecutor court. An amicable procedure must be tried beforehand.