I need to recover maintenance from abroad (payments to the Czech Republic)

If you live in the Czech Republic and need to recover child support from abroad, you can contact the Office for the International Protection of Children or you can contact the courts in the place of residence of the obligor individually.

The prerequisite for the possibility of judicial recovery of maintenance abroad is:

  • a judgment (enforcement order) of a Czech or foreign court, which establishes a maintenance obligation for a specific person
  • legal regulation between the states concerned, i.e. the Czech Republic and the state from where the maintenance is to be recovered
  • effective procedure for recovery of maintenance abroad

Court judgments are not automatically applicable in the territory of another state.

A prerequisite for the enforcement of a foreign judgment is its recognition in the State where it is to have legal effect and where maintenance is to be enforced. States have signed up to a number of legal obligations which govern both the process of recognition of judgments and the procedure for cooperation between central authorities in the recovery of maintenance (e.g. the so-called Council Regulation (EC) on maintenance, the 2007 Hague Convention on the recovery of maintenance, or the declaration of reciprocity between States...).

Application for recovery of maintenance from abroad through the Office

Always discuss your options for recovery from a particular foreign country with a member of the Legal Aid Department.

To quickly establish cooperation, fill out this form and attach a copy of the judgment (or other documents) establishing maintenance to your request.

You will receive detailed instructions on how to proceed directly from the case worker. We most often complete in collaboration with the courts and clients:

  • a copy of the judgment establishing the maintenance obligation, with a certified translation into the language of the country from which the maintenance is to be enforced, including a legal force and enforceability clause
  • for maintenance recoveries from EU Member States, an extract from the decision pursuant to Article 56 of the European Maintenance Regulation (to be drawn up by the court)
  • a power of attorney for the central authority abroad
  • a certificate of the minor's studies (over 15 years of age)

In the framework of cooperation with foreign central authorities, the Office for International Child Protection can often verify the place of residence of the obliged person. It is also possible to request cooperation in obtaining an enforcement order issued abroad which is not available to the entitled parent.

The Office for the International Protection of Children in the recovery of maintenance:
  • completes the application for the recovery of maintenance abroad and arranges for the translation of the necessary documents
  • in cooperation with the client, updates the calculation of the maintenance debt in the relevant tables
  • cooperates with the Czech courts in securing the necessary extracts from judgments or in drawing up a certificate of enforceability of the judgment
  • forwards the request for recovery of maintenance abroad and communicates with the foreign partner authority
  • regularly ascertains from the partner authority the status of the proceedings abroad
  • mediates communication between the client (beneficiary) and the foreign authorities

The Office has jurisdiction only within the Czech Republic. It is therefore not within its power to "ensure" better performance abroad or to directly influence the activities of partner organisations. Nevertheless, the Office tries to speed up the process as much as possible and to conduct it in the interest of the child to whom maintenance is to be paid.

How long does it take to collect child support through the office?

The total time required to recover maintenance cannot be determined in advance, delays may occur, the time ranges from half a year if the person liable starts paying maintenance voluntarily, to several years in cases where judicial enforcement of the decision or enforcement is ordered.

The outcome of the enforcement process depends on the specific state, the willingness and economic situation of the obligor, the flexibility of the courts and other individual circumstances of the case, which the Office discusses with clients in advance. Enforcement is conducted in accordance with the law of the requested state, which has an impact on the actual course of enforcement or, for example, on the amount that may no longer be affected by enforcement (the so-called non-forfeitable amount).

Nor can enforcement be relied upon to succeed if the debtor is not working, does not receive sufficient social benefits, or is working 'under the table'.

In the experience of the Office of International Child Protection, there is a relatively high success rate in the recovery of maintenance from Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, the USA and Australia.

On the other hand, attempts to recover maintenance from Arab, Asian, African, Latin American (including Cuba), successor states of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the former Soviet Union often remain unsuccessful, even in situations where they are contracting states to international treaties that regulate the recovery of maintenance. Cooperation with Italy, Spain, Greece or Israel is also problematic.

Payment of maintenance through the Office for International Child Protection

If maintenance is recovered through the Office, the foreign partner authorities will normally pay the recovered maintenance into the Office's account.

The Office processes the payments, keeps a record of them and pays the maintenance payments to the entitled child (or his/her legal representative). It is possible to agree on the method of payment (letter of credit, bill) or the currency in which the maintenance will be paid.

If a higher amount is recovered (and the maintenance debt is also paid), the Office will deposit the payments and pay maintenance to the entitled parent up to the amount of the monthly maintenance obligation specified in the judgment (unless otherwise instructed by the obligor). Overpayments and underpayments are often due to exchange rate differences. Any balance on the account is duly accounted for and paid back to either the obligor or the beneficiary when the maintenance obligation is terminated.

Exchange rate differences are a risk in recovering maintenance from abroad. It happens that the partner authority abroad already considers the debt to have been paid, whereas in the Czech Republic, due to exchange rate differences, we register an underpayment. These situations are always dealt with individually.

What are the prerequisites for a Czech judgment to be enforced abroad?

A sovereign state will not "just so happen" to accept a foreign judgment as its own and "just so happen" to enforce a maintenance claim on the basis of a foreign judgment by its own judicial power. Each state has therefore (in negotiating international conventions or in the terms of its own law) set out the conditions under which a foreign maintenance judgment is recognised and enforceable in their state.

The courts of other States generally determine whether the conditions of due process in the State of origin of the judgment have been met, in particular whether the obligor has had the opportunity to participate in the hearing and whether the judgment is not manifestly contrary to the public policy of the State of enforcement. Establishing the residence of the debtor and duly serving him in the maintenance proceedings is therefore crucial for the judgment to be recognised and enforceable abroad.