Thursday, July 1, 2021

As Covid-19 Eases, Is Germany Again Seeking "Filial Support" (Elternunterhalt) Payments from Children?

It has been a while since I've written a "Filial Friday" post.  After more than a year of no calls or requests for information about "Elternunterhalt" payments in Germany, in the last 45 days I've heard from three sets of American citizens who recently received requests for financial contributions to the care of an aging parent in Germany.  In each of the instances, the adult children had never heard of Germany's parental maintenance laws before receiving the demand.   

Since last writing about elternunterhalt on this Elder Law Prof Blog (see here and here), I've learned about some changes to the German laws.  

First,  Germany adopted a threshold annual income for a potentially obligated child of at least 100,000 Euros, effective for claims after January 1, 2020.

Second, it appears that Germany has also clarified that only the adult child's income is considered in determining the amount of the potential support obligation.  In the past, the German authorities would routinely ask for "all" income and asset information for the child and any spouse or partner.  

For more on this, see this article and another article, from Germany, describing these changes as "reforms."  Germany's renewed use of filial support laws began with a ruling by the Federal Court on June 23, 2002.  "The legal basis is mainly Section 1601 and 1602 Paragraph 1 BGB," according to a third article.  

While I've often seen "claim letters" submitted to adult children living in the U.S., I've never seen a formal administrative proceeding or court proceeding to enforce such a claim if not paid voluntarily. In some instances, I've seen German authorities agree to drop the claim, usually because there is strong evidence that the now needy-parent neglected or mistreated the child while the child was a minor.  I have also sometimes seen a voluntary settlement between the U.S. child and the German authorities.  But, have  any of our readers seen a litigated outcome in a cross-border claim?  Do we have any attorneys reading this blog with experience with cross-border claims between the U.S. and Germany?   

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/elder_law/2021/07/as-covid-19-eases-is-germany-again-seeking-filial-support-elternunterhalt-payments-from-children.html

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Comments

Hi Katherine, do you have experience you can share with regard to how German authorities would want to investigate the US financial situation of the child, how they would want to factor in the US cost of living and so on, and how they would want they enforce payment / participation?

Posted by: Julian | Feb 7, 2024 4:10:04 PM

Julian, In the years since this 2021 post, I have continued to see occasional letters to adult children in the US about the costs to pay for parents' care in Germany. But as yet, I have not seen a lawsuit filed in the US. Recent changes in Germany's domestic policies on enforcing filial support laws would appear to make it less likely they will seek "cross-border" enforcement.

Posted by: Katherine C Pearson | Feb 11, 2024 10:00:19 AM