Divorced parents have no obligation to keep their children for life. Once they reach the age of majority, the parents can plead certain reasons why they consider that the children are no longer deserving of that right. The poor academic performance of young people who, reached a certain age, neither work nor try, is one of the most common reasons why courts withdraw their alimony. A recent ruling of the Supreme Court (whose text can be consulted here), points out a new reason why parents can request the extinction of this obligation: the total detachment and lack of relationship of the children with their parents whenever this situation is attributable mainly to young people and fully accredited. The High Court thus seems to open the door to a social reality, that of fathers or mothers who limit themselves to defraying the expenses of their children without them wanting to see them or have a relationship with them.
The specific case that the Supreme Court resolves is that of a divorced person who requested the termination of the pension that was passed to his ex-wife by his two children, a boy of 25 years and a girl of 20, whom he had not seen for eighteen years. years respectively. Among the reasons that he alleged, besides the diminution of his economic capacity, the lack of use in the studies and the no personal relationship with the young people.
The court gave him the reason because, despite discarding economic reasons or "neglect" in the dedication to studies by their children, considered credited an "absolute disaffection" between young people and their parent and a "total detachment" of these towards the father. A reality manifested without "bluntness" by young people, said the court, in the interrogation to which they were subjected as witnesses. The son said he had ten years without talking to his father or trying and he acknowledged that he personally prevented him from receiving any type of information on his academic progress. The girl said she had not seen her father for eight years and that "he had no interest in seeing him again".
No affective relationship
The judge concluded that, regardless of to whom the situation was attributable, the manifest and continuous rejection of his father, voluntary and free, and the "repeated and uninterrupted lack of emotional relationships and communication" between them, justified the extinction of the pension. It is, the judge emphasizes, a situation that, due to its relevance and permanence in time, and without "this diminishes responsibilities to the father due to his lack of skills", substantially changes the circumstances taken into account when the pension was granted. Would be "improper", concludes in his sentence, maintain the pension in favor of young people because it would be fostering a kind of "unjust enrichment at the expense of a father whose children have moved away from their lives."
The mother of the young people appealed the decision of the court, but the Provincial Court of Madrid confirmed that resolution. The null continuous affective relationship in time, free and voluntary, constitutes a substantial alteration of the circumstances that allows to nullify the duty of contribution of the non-custodial parent, said the Court.
Reasons for the break
The Supreme Court, on the other hand, gave the reason to the ex-wife. He concluded that, Although the alleged situation may lead to the termination of the pension in favor of children of legal age, it had not been sufficiently demonstrated that the rupture of the relationship was imputable, in a "main and relevant" way to young people. This is, stresses the Supreme Court in its judgment, a determining issue to consider maintenance terminated for this reason. And is that, according to repeated doctrine and jurisprudence, the causes of extinction of the maintenance of food must be interpreted in a restrictive and rigorous manner. Thus, admitting as a possible reason for ending the pension, it must be demonstrated that the lack of relationship with the children of legal age is imputable to the young.
Despite the decision of the Supreme Court to maintain the pension in this specific case, the novelty lies in the fact that it performs a flexible interpretation of the Civil Code which can open the door to future demands of divorced parents who feel totally ignored and separated by their children.
Despite the fact that the Civil Code (applicable to territories that do not have their own civil right) does not expressly contemplate the lack of a family relationship as a cause of extinction of the obligation of divorced parents to contribute to the expenses of older children, the Supreme admits it by making a flexible interpretation of the norm. Considers the forecast of the Catalan Civil Code to be extrapolated, that expressly includes "the manifest and continued absence of family relationship" as a reason for disinheritance and food extinction as long as the national legislator does not foresee. In addition, justifies the court, this figure rests on the principle of family solidarity, "when intergenerational solidarity has disappeared, its deprivation is lawful," he says.