1st August 2010

A Surrey woman was recently shocked to receive a letter in French - headed obligation alimentaire - asking for details of her income as her father was in a Normandy care home. French law obliges children to have maintenance duties towards parents in need, but according to French avocats such as Gerard Barron in Boulogne, this is the first time that a French body has tried to enforce such a maintenance obligation against a non-resident, non-French 'maintenance debtor'. The French are obviously serious in trying to deal with increasing numbers of the old and frail by also introducing new 'care insurance' for all over-50s. They recommend a compulsory private insurance package called assurance dependance, to cover the cost of home help or staying in a care home. Likely cost? c.30 euros/month. But, will the insurers pay up?? Discussions in parliament are currently ongoing.
I have a feeling that the problem experienced by the Surrey woman will not be the first in the widely-differing laws across the EU country states.
But, in some ways I agree with the French maintenance law. We could all learn lessons from eastern cultures by repaying what our parents did for us. Vive respect for our elders!

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