New legal epic for family allowances

By Camille FratiLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

The case of blended families has not been entirely settled by the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2020. The Court of Cassation is considering the appeal of a Belgian cross-border worker who is still being refused child benefit by the "Caisse pour l'avenir des enfants" for his stepchildren.

This is a new ramification of the family allowance saga that began on 1 August 2016, when the reform steered by Family Minister Corinne Cahen (DP) for the DP-LSAP-déi Gréng coalition came into force. This reform promised "a modernisation of family and social policy and an integrated approach that puts the child at the centre of concerns", as the legislator stated in the explanatory memorandum of the corresponding bill. According to the financial statement attached to the bill, this reform would also make it possible to save 148.6 million euros between 2016 and 2021 for family allowances paid monthly (or twice a year for the children of cross-border workers), by setting a flat-rate amount of 265 euros per child instead of the previous progressive scale.

However, for some cross-border workers, this reform also sounded the death knell for their entitlement to Luxembourg family allowances. Article 270 of the law stipulates that "children born in wedlock, children born out of wedlock and adopted children of a person are considered to be members of that person's family and are entitled to family allowance". This choice was justified by the "unmanageable situations" caused by the previous wording: the child had previously had to reside in the household of the worker who was entitled to the allowance, which made it difficult to grant the allowance in the event of custody of the child by the other parent or alternating custody.

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