EU Enforcement Law On Child Support Maintenance To Poland

EU Enforcement Law On Child Support Maintenance To Poland

TKF, as he is known, moved to live in Northern Ireland leaving his wife (from whom he had separated in about 1998) and two sons then aged seven and one.

His wife claimed child support maintenance through the Polish courts which ordered that TKF should pay for his sons. He claimed later not to have had notice of the proceedings.

The Polish order was registered in Northern Ireland. On TKF’s application for judicial review of the decision to register in R (on the application of TKF) v Petty sessions of Belfast and Newton Abbey [2018] NIQB 15 the question was whether order had been correctly registered. McCloskey J applied mostly the EC Council Regulation No 4/2009 (the ‘Maintenance Regulation’) Article 75 and in relation to the period between the order being made and Poland joining the European Union.

Registration of the order was correct, and it could therefore be enforced. On service the judge was unconvinced; but said even if he accepted what TKF had said it was overridden by the principle of mutual trust between EU states. (If EU withdrawal is finalised it remains unclear whether enforcement as in this case, which depend on mutual recognition of orders amongst EU countries, can proceed.)

The EU Court of Justice has said it is willing to look at this decision. TKF’s lawyers argue that the Polish payment decisions were made before Poland joined the EU. It is thought that the outcome of TKF’s case – if it goes in his favour – will have a substantial effect on the application of law across member states for countries who have recently joined or who intend to join. It remains the case, however, that a purposive approach to the welfare of children – not specifically taken into account by McCloskey J – might persuade the EU court that registration should stand.

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