Family abandonment (« abadnon de famille ») pursuant to French law
What is family abandonment pursuant to French law?
The act of not paying in full for more than two months a pension, a contribution, subsidies or benefits of any kind due to a minor child, descendant, ascendant or spouse which are due as a result of family obligations provided for by the French Civil Code abandonment of the family.
Family abandonment is punishable pursuant to articles 227-3, 227-4 and 227-29 of the French Criminal Code (“Code Pénal”).
The basis for the prosecution for abandonment of the family must be a judicial decision or one of the documents provided for in article 373-2-2 of the French Civil Code (such as a judicially approved agreement) defining the family obligation incumbent on the accused (alimony, compensatory allowance).
The offence of abandonment of the family is committed by the mere fact that the debtor refrains from providing the full amount of the subsidies for more than two months.
The offence of abandoning a family is an intentional offence.
It is therefore necessary to prove that the offence was committed intentionally.
Such intention may however result from the circumstances (example: the offender knew that he/she was sentenced to pay, but nonetheless did not pay).
Failure to notify the change of residence to the creditor or to the body responsible for paying family allowances within a period of 1 month after such change also constitutes a criminal offence.
How is family abandonment punishable under French law?
Individuals found guilty of abandoning a family are liable to a two-year prison sentence and a €15 000 fine.
Failure to notify a change of address is punishable by six months' imprisonment and a fine of €7 500. In all cases, individuals are also subject to the additional penalties of article 227-29 (ban on civil, civic and family rights, ban on carrying out a professional or voluntary activity involving habitual contact with minors, etc.)
The court competent to hear the case is that of the place where the offence was committed, the place of residence of the accused or the place of arrest or detention, but also, and specifically, that of the domicile or residence of the person who was to receive the sums due.
Landmark decisions of French Courts on family abandonment
· Crim. 29 janv. 2014, n° 13-81.918
· Crim. 12 juin 2013, n° 13-82.622 QPC
· Crim. 23 mai 2012, n° 11-83.901
· Crim. 16 févr. 2011, n° 10-83.606
· Crim. 29 janv. 2003, n° 01-88.881
· Crim. 20 févr. 2002, n° 01-84.527
· Cass., ch. mixte, 12 mai 2000, n° 96-80.077
· Crim. 26 nov. 1997, n° 96-86.255
· Crim. 20 déc. 1966, n° 92-58.665
· Crim. 24 déc. 1932, Bull. crim. n° 266