Am I obligated to help my needy parents when they get old?

Am I obligated to help my needy parents when they

Parents have an obligation to provide assistance to their children. An obligation in theory reciprocal, except in certain specific circumstances.

Parents spend their lives taking care of their children, worrying about their health, their diet, their education, devoting their time so that they can grow well, study and flourish. It is therefore normal, in return, that their children, once adults, take over when they become dependent. Article 205 of the Civil Code expressly encourages it: “Children owe support to their father and mother or other ascendants who are in need.” A maintenance obligation which also applies to sons-in-law and daughters-in-law who owe, in the same circumstances, maintenance to their father-in-law and mother-in-law. This obligation is reciprocal and, the parents and the parents-in-law have also a maintenance obligation towards their descendants.

If the Civil Code speaks of food, this aid in reality concerns all expenses necessary for everyday life: food of course, but also housing and even health expenses. This help can take different forms: ensuring that the person has enough to eat by bringing them food, doing their shopping, but also ensuring that they are decently housed, for example by providing them with accommodation or a room within the family home. This maintenance obligation can therefore be provided in kind, but it can also be provided by means of a pension paid in money. This also involves, for example, contributing to the financing of part of the accommodation costs in EHPADs. In the majority of cases, it is an amicable agreement, which can be set in writing and is sometimes approved by a judge, between the child and his parent in need.

However, it happens that the descendant refuses to evade this obligation. The parent can first contact a family mediator to try to resolve the situation. If this fails, he can contact the family affairs judge by demonstrating that he is in need, that is to say unable to buy food, clothing, medicine or even to find accommodation. The judge will set, in the judgment, the maintenance contribution taking into account the situation of both parties. In the event of refusal and if the descendant does not pay the pension for more than two months, this is an offense which exposes him to a prison sentence of 2 years and a fine of 15,000 euros.

It is important to know that in certain circumstances, a descendant can be exempted from this maintenance obligation by the family affairs judge (Jaf). This concerns people whose father or mother has seriously failed in this obligation towards them (examples: violence, abandonment of family), whose parent has had parental authority withdrawn or when the child has been removed from his family environment before he was 12 years old and for more than 36 months. The person must obviously provide proof of these breaches and make a request for a maintenance obligation to the Jaf, invoking the “exception of unworthiness”.