Sharp increase in alimony and child support to beneficiaries abroad
The number of requests for implementation of decisions on alimony and child support from abroad is growing considerably.
The number of such applications in 2004-2006 was 60 per cent higher than in 2000-2002. The number of requests for the implementation of maintenance applications from Estonia doubled during that period.
Off all countries, Estonia continues to have the greatest number of recipients of alimony or child support payments from Finns.
In 2000-2006 the Helsinki Court of Appeals approved a total of 74 applications for the implementation of maintenance allowance payments abroad. More than half - 48 - came from Estonia.
Other countries figuring high on the list were Russia, Poland, and Hungary.
Germany and Austria are the only Western countries to have been the source of more than two requests for the enforcement of maintenance payments.
Another indicator of the direction of flows of maintenance support is the number of requests for the implementation of maintenance orders received by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
"Most of the requests that come to Finland from abroad come from Estonia and Germany", says lawyer Hanna Rantala of the Consular Section of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
In 2004-2006 a total of 187 cases were pending in Finland, and 84 of these - 45 per cent - came from Estonia, and involved a resident of Finland required to pay alimony or child support.
A total of 17 applications came from Germany.
Liisa Lehikoinen, an official at the Helsinki Court of Appeals, says that it is quite rare that applications would be submitted that the court would be able to turn down.
"An application cannot be ordered to be executed as such if the requirement is for, say, a quarter of the income of the person required to provide maintenance, but no clear sum in euros", Lehikoinen says. Such applications usually come from the former East European countries.
The Helsinki Court of Appeals handles only some of the demands for maintenance support coming from abroad.
Requests for maintenance support are also handled by Helsinki District Court. However, such applications are so few in number that they are usually not reported separately in the statistics.
"Relatively few applications for maintenance support come from abroad - no more than a few every year", says Maria Jyrkkä, head of finances at Helsinki District Court.
Most disputes over alimony and child support involving a payer living in Finland and a beneficiary living abroad are settled out of court, and do not figure in any statistics.