top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
Explore
arrow down

You are obliged to look after parents

French law says you "owe maintenance" to parents "in need" – even if they are in the UK

WHAT IS the law in France concerning the responsibility of adult children for their elderly and infirm parents? C.C.

François Trémosa, a notaire from Toulouse with the Groupe Monassier, replies: According to art. 205 of the Civil Code, “children owe maintenance to their father and mother or other ascendants who are in need” and according to art. 206, “sons and daughters-in-law owe maintenance to their father- and mother-in-law under the same circumstances.”

The father or the 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. It is up to the father or mother to prove this and if a dispute arises, a judge will settle it.

Children are personally obliged to contribute, in proportion to their respective wealth: art. 208 states “maintenance shall be granted only in proportion to the needs of the one who claims it, and to the wealth of the one who owes it.”

However, the obligation of a spouse to maintain their spouse comes first, so the children can refuse to comply if the other parent is still alive and in a position to provide.

The obligations apply to all that is necessary to have a decent life - food, clothes, heating, lights, lodging, medical care - and to funerals. Hospitals and funeral companies can also make use of the right. In the case of hospitals however, they can only claim amounts due starting from the day they claimed.

When parents and children do not live in the same country, the Hague Convention of October 2, 1973 on the law applicable to maintenance obligations applies (signatories include both the USA and the EU). Under this, for example, if a parent lives in Britain but their children are in France, the parent could apply to a French law to enforce the maintenance responsibilities.

A British parent in France could equally apply to do this for children living in France. It is possible also to do it for children living elsewhere but it would be complex and costly to have such a ruling enforced abroad.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Healthcare in France*
Featured Help Guide
- Understand the French healthcare system, how you access it and how you are reimbursed - Useful if you are new to the French healthcare system or want a more in-depth understanding - Reader question and answer section Aimed at non-French nationals living here, the guide gives an overview of what you are (and are not) covered for. There is also information for second-home owners and regular visitors.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now