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Portugal / Constitutional Court / Judgment 274/2013

A. v Public Prosecutor and B

Policy area:
Employment and social policy
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Portugal / Constitutional Court
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

A. lodged an appeal against the decision sent down by the Family and Children’s Court of Funchal which had set the starting date for paying child-maintenance benefits of a minor payable by the Child Support Guarantee Fund, one month following the notification of the Court’s decision, and not on the date on which the claim involving the benefits was submitted. The rule applied by the Court a quo has been the object of an appreciation as regards its constitutionality in several judgements handed down by the Constitutional Court and interpretations have not always coincided. The main arguments cited in such judgements are as follows: “the duty to educate and maintain their children" falls to the parents in first place; and the right of children to “the protection of society and the State with a view to their full development, particularly against all kinds of abandonment" does not result in the fact that “the State has to take legal measures to guarantee child support to these off-spring, according to the dictates of the Constitution. “As normally happens where social rights are concerned and which involve State-subsidised material support, this right is a ‘right wherever it is possible to meet it’; neither the amount (quantum) nor the way in which it is paid is stipulated in the Constitution. Pursuant to the right to child support, when child maintenance payments or benefits are paid by the State, the limit cannot be changed by law-makers and may only (legally) be set by going through other constitutional means where the principle of upholding human dignity is foremost”.