14ymedio, Madrid, 17 February 2022 — For the first time, Cuba’s Family Code provides for something never before contemplated in Cuban legislation despite its urgent need: the possibility of claiming the maintenance obligation from a resident abroad. The previous rule was approved in 1975, but despite undergoing numerous amendments, the aspect that would legally allow this type of claim had not been modified.
The Family Code of 1975 established the obligation to give support to children, parents and siblings mutually, but did not contemplate what could happen in the event that one of them resided abroad. Title XI of the preliminary draft, which is currently being debated before being submitted to a referendum, addresses the rules of private international family law and develops economic and property relations between spouses or partners who have formed a de facto union, as well as with children, as well as the maintenance obligation.
The issue was addressed this Wednesday on the State television program Mesa Redonda (Roundtable), which spoke of “transnational families” and featured several experts in private international law.
Although María Ofelia Rodríguez, a researcher at the Center for Demographic Studies of the University of Havana, recalled that migration is a global phenomenon, the weight that this factor has in Cuba was clear and she explains that this planned legal modification has finally been introduced in multitudes of countries but not precisely in one that has around a quarter of its population distributed throughout the world, although the bulk is concentrated in the United States.
In her review, the specialist recalled the Special Period in Cub and did not waste the opportunity to insist that it is an emigration of an economic nature, completely ignoring the political factor. In this sense, the intervention of Rodolfo Dávalos, professor of Private International Law at the University of Havana, who attributed the migratory phenomenon to “the cosmopolitan nature of the human species,” was also peculiar.
“Today we have an affective union of a Cuban mother with a Spanish citizen, she procreates a child residing in Cuba, the father disregards the obligation to provide food, there is an international family conflict, then, what law is applicable to the conflict? The Family Code offers an adequate solution and establishes the application of Cuban regulations, which is the law of the minor’s domicile,” he explained.
Last January, 14ymedio published a report to address the possible improvements that the new Family Code could bring to grandparents, who on many occasions must take care of the support of their grandchildren because their parents have emigrated, sometimes even to the point of disappearing.
“I also don’t know how the obligations of the emigrated parents are going to turn out, because the girls’ father also emigrated a few years ago and has never sent a penny,” one of those interviewed told this newspaper.
With the new text, it will be possible to claim the maintenance obligation internationally, although it has not yet been explained how it will be articulated. In Spain, as in the example provided on the Mesa Redonda, the body responsible for managing it is the Ministry of Justice through the Subdirectorate General for International Legal Cooperation, to which the required documentation must be sent, including the pertinent judicial decisions and application.
It remains to be clarified how the amount to be paid will be calculated when one of the parents lives outside the island. One of the serious problems with the current child support model in force in Cuba is that it is calculated based on the salary in Cuban pesos, although many individuals have informal incomes or receive remittances that constitute the bulk of their family budget.
After the start of the Ordering Task* and the end of the dual monetary system, the amounts that a parent must pay for child support have become even more derisory compared to the cost of basic products, especially food. If the one who pays the pension lives and receives a salary abroad, it is also pending to know in what currency and through what routes the money will reach the family in Cuba.
*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others.
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