9 August 2009

Ever since the days of Enoch Powell there's been discrimination against immigrants, all over the world. In those far off days when first I read his 'rivers of blood' speech, I never thought we ourselves would one day be immigrants in a foreign land. But, here we are. And what has all this taught me? That there are many things we can learn from others - especially how they look after and care for their families.
Here in France there is a law that says 'children owe maintenance to their father and mother or other ascendants who are in need'. For this law to kick in, the father or mother (or both) must be in need; that is to say he or she cannot sustain themselves as their estate and revenues are too little. In this case children are personally obliged to contribute, in proportion to their respective wealth. However, the obligation of a spouse to maintain his/her spouse comes first, so the children can refuse to comply if the other parent is still alive and in a position to provide.
When parents and children do not live in the same country, the Hague Convention applies (signatories include the US and the EU). In practice this means that if a parent lives in the UK but the children live in France, the parent could apply to a French law to enforce the maintenance responsibilities. Elsewhere, it's possible but costly to enforce a ruling abroad.
But what a thing, when you need to go to court for something that should come naturally. Wasn't it the 4th commandment (or was it the 5th?): honour thy mother and father?
So, those arriving families from the 3rd world - with grandmothers in tow - can still teach us a thing or two.

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