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Legal reforms after court-ordered child support was unpaid for thirteen years

Boucke v. Montenegro  | 2012

Legal reforms after court-ordered child support was unpaid for thirteen years

The State has an obligation to organise a system of enforcement of judgments that is effective both in law and in practice.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, 21 February 2012

Background

Snežana Boucke had a baby daughter born out of marriage, called Kristina. Ms Boucke obtained a court order saying that Kristina’s father had to pay child maintenance. Thirteen years later, the authorities had still failed to get the father to pay child support. Ms Boucke obtained another court order, but this was not enforced either. 

Snežana and Kristina Boucke took their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The Strasbourg court ruled that the national authorities had been totally inactive for substantial periods of time, and failed to do enough to have the order enforced. This had breached Snežana and Kristina Boucke’s right to have binding decisions properly enforced.

Follow-up

The government carried out a series of reforms to improve the enforcement of court orders, notably concerning child maintenance. As a result, the government said the average time for child maintenance decisions to be enforced was cut to 90 days.

Child maintenance payments for Kristina Boucke were eventually taken directly from her father’s salary.