Contrary to various statements to the contrary that can be found on the Internet, enforceable decisions of German courts on child support, spousal support or separation maintenance are in principle enforceable in Switzerland under the so-called Lugano Convention (Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters), there Art. 32 et seq. Unterhaltsforderungen Schweiz
However, for enforcement in Switzerland, a Swiss domicile address for correspondence with the debt collection office, Swiss bank details and the enforceable copy of the court order are required.
If the defendant has not entered an appearance in the court proceedings and an order by default has been made, it must also be proved in accordance with Art. 34 No. 2 of the Lugano Convention that the document instituting the proceedings, e.g. the statement of claim, was received by the defendant. This is to ensure that the defendant had the opportunity to defend himself in these proceedings. However, Art. 34 No. 2 at the end of the Lugano Convention does not apply in Switzerland, since Switzerland has made use of the reservation in the Convention in this respect. The proof according to Art. 34 No. 2 LugÜ is provided with the corresponding form on judgments and court settlements of Annex V to the LugÜ, which is completed and confirmed by the respective German court.
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Unlike in Germany, in Switzerland only the maintenance for the past and not the current maintenance can be enforced. However, if the debtor has recognized that the German maintenance claim can also be enforced in Switzerland without any problems, the consequence is almost always that the current maintenance is then paid without delay in order to prevent further enforcement actions.
Maintenance claims are treated privileged by the Swiss debt collection offices in that the monthly garnishments are paid out to the maintenance debtor immediately and are not retained by the debt collection office over a longer period of time and only paid out at the end of the garnishment year, as can happen with other claims. It should be noted, however, that the debt collection offices do not transfer funds to accounts abroad, but that Swiss bank details must always be provided.
However, if a third party, e.g. a lawyer, wants to carry out enforcement actions on behalf of a client, it is absolutely necessary to keep a so-called client money account at a Swiss bank, which enables the lawyer to receive and manage foreign money. Not everyone may be aware that, according to the relevant regulations, Swiss banks are not permitted to receive foreign funds in ordinary Swiss accounts without further ado. The recipient of transfers must always be the beneficial owner of such payments. The way out is an account which lawyers, trustees, etc. licensed in Switzerland can set up specifically for this purpose. Unterhaltsforderungen Schweiz
Before initiating enforcement proceedings, it is advisable to check the debtor's exact residence details once again in order to avoid incurring unnecessary costs. The debt collection offices charge their fees even if the debtor cannot be served with the demand for payment due to lack of residence in their area of jurisdiction. If there is any doubt as to the debtor's place of residence, a letter can be sent to the municipality where the debtor lives, the so-called Einwohnerkontrolle (residents' registration office), and an address inquiry can be made for a fee. If the place of residence is not known, a so-called residence inquiry can be made via the Federal Office for Migration (FOM), Statistics Section in 3003 Bern-Wabern. This is subject to a fee for private persons, but free of charge for German authorities. The address request must be accompanied by appropriate evidence in accordance with Art. 15 of the ZEMIS Ordinance. Unterhaltsforderungen Schweiz
German maintenance advance funds, such as the Jobcenter or the ARGE, etc., can obtain an enforceable partial execution from the German courts with regard to the maintenance advance they have paid. These titles must then be submitted to the competent debt collection office in Switzerland. With regard to the clarification of residence, reference is made to the preceding paragraph and the possibility of making inquiries free of charge for the authorities. If the defendant does not agree to the proceedings, it is essential to obtain the certificate pursuant to Annex V of the Lugano Convention (see paragraph two of this essay). Again, a Swiss address for service and an account in Switzerland must be provided for the debt enforcement proceedings. Unterhaltsforderungen Schweiz
Nothing now stands in the way of the enforcement of German maintenance claims in Switzerland!