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Liechtenstein[1] [print]

Last edited: June 2005

 

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Liechtenstein's Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (ABGB), or civil code, contains several provisions protecting the rights of children to be heard in judicial proceedings.[2]  Most importantly, the ABGB provides that before issuing orders that affect the care or upbringing of a child, the court must hear the child in person.[3]  The court can decline to hear the child only when a hearing, or the delay a hearing might require, would endanger the child's well being, or when, in view of the child's age or level of development, an expression of opinion is not to be expected from the child.[4]   Instead of appearing in court, children under 10 years of age may be interviewed by the Amt für Soziale Dienste, or Office of Social Services.[5]

 

The civil code offers special protection to children who are the subject of adoption proceedings.  A child who is the subject of adoption proceedings, and who has reached the age of five, has a right to a hearing.[6]  Likewise, before transferring custody of a child to her foster parents, the court must hear from the child herself, if she is at least 10 years old.[7]

 

In some circumstances, under the ABGB, children are empowered to submit their own motions to the court.  For example, when measures urgently need to be taken in order to safeguard a child's well being, the court can act without the consent of one or both parents, as long as legitimate interests of the parents will not be unreasonably harmed.[8]  Among the parties who may move that the court act in this way is the child herself.[9]  A similar provision (though it does not bear directly on child protective proceedings) permits a child over 14 to seek a judicial hearing if she cannot reach agreement with her parents regarding her own education.[10] 

Finally, Liechtenstein's 1998 State Party Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child provides several additional insights into the rights of children to be heard in Liechtenstein:

 

The purpose of hearing the child is to broaden the court's basis for taking a decision and to improve the information available to the judge.  The court does not, however, have an obligation to give effect to the views of the child.  Practice has shown that with increasing age, the views of the child take on greater importance.  Occasionally, the problem arises in hearings that the child interprets the right to be heard differently, and accordingly is not able to understand decisions of the court.[11]

 

These observations appear to be rooted in practice, rather than in particular provisions of the ABGB.  The 1999 report also anticipates that Liechtenstein's accession to the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights will strengthen children's procedural rights, though it is not clear whether this actually occurred.[12]

 

The civil code of Liechtenstein provides that whenever a child is situated so that there is no one entitled to represent her in court, a legal guardian, or Vormund, must be appointed for her.[13]  An attempt to find an analogy for the Vormund in U.S. law finds that she is more like a plenary guardian than a guardian ad litem, in that she not only must see to the child's legal representation, but also must care for the child's person and property.[14]  Moreover, it is not necessary that the Vormund be a lawyer.  If no other suitable Vormund can be found for a child, the Office of Social Services acts as Vormund.[15] 

 

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

 

Original Text

 

Statutes

 

ABGB § 137a

1) Dritte dürfen in die elterlichen Rechte nur insoweit eingreifen, als ihnen dies durch die Eltern selbst, unmittelbar auf Grund des Gesetzes oder durch eine behördliche Verfügung gestattet ist.

2) Soweit im folgenden nicht etwas anderes bestimmt ist, kann das Gericht auf Antrag eines Elternteiles oder des betroffenen Kindes die Verweigerung der Zustimmung des anderen Elternteiles, allenfalls sogar beider Elternteile, durch eine Genehmigung ersetzen, wenn es sich um eine Rechtshandlung, Maßnahme oder Verfügung handelt, deren Vornahme im Interesse des Kindeswohles dringend erforderlich ist und die wohlerwogenen Interessen der Eltern, soweit sie nicht zustimmten, nicht in unzumutbarer Weise verletzt.

 

ABGB § 147

Hat ein minderjähriges Kind, welches das 14. Lebensjahr vollendete, seine Meinung über seine Ausbildung den Eltern erfolglos vorgetragen, so kann es das Gericht anrufen. Dieses hat nach sorgfältiger Abwägung der von den Eltern und dem Kind angeführten Gründe die zum Wohl des Kindes angemessenen Verfügungen zu treffen.

 

ABGB § 178b

Berücksichtigung der Meinung des Kindes

Vor Verfügungen, die Pflege oder Erziehung eines Kindes betreffen, hat das Gericht das Kind tunlichst persönlich zu hören; ein noch nicht zehnjähriges Kind kann auch durch das Amt für Soziale Dienste oder in anderer geeigneter Weise befragt werden. Das Kind ist nicht zu hören, wenn durch die Befragung oder durch einen Aufschub der Verfügung das Wohl des Kindes gefährdet wäre oder im Hinblick auf das Alter oder die Entwicklung des Kindes eine Meinungsäußerung nicht zu erwarten ist.

 

ABGB § 181a

1) Ein Recht auf Anhörung haben:

1.   Das nicht eigenberechtigte Wahlkind ab dem vollendeten fünften Lebensjahr, außer es hat bereits seit diesem Zeitpunkt beim Annehmenden gelebt;

2.    Die Eltern des volljährigen Wahlkindes;

3.    Die Pflegeeltern oder der Leiter des Heimes, in dem sich das Wahlkind befindet;

4.    Das Amt für Soziale Dienste.

2) Das Anhörungsrecht eines im Abs. 1 genannten Berechtigten entfällt, wenn er als gesetzlicher Vertreter des Wahlkindes den Annahmevertrag geschlossen hat; ferner, wenn er nicht oder nur mit unverhältnismäßigen Schwierigkeiten gehört werden könnte.

 

ABGB § 186a

4) Das Gericht hat vor seiner Entscheidung die Eltern, den gesetzlichen Vertreter, die Pflegeeltern, weitere Erziehungsberechtigte, das Amt für Soziale Dienste und jedenfalls das bereits zehnjährige Kind zu hören. § 181a Abs. 2 gilt sinngemäß.

 

ABGB § 187

Bestimmung der Vormundschaft, Kuratel und Beistandschaft

1) Einem Minderjährigen ist ein Vormund zu bestellen, wenn nicht wenigstens einer Person die beschränkte gesetzliche Vertretung im Rahmen der Obsorge zusteht.

 

ABGB § 188

Unterschied zwischen der Vormundschaft und Kuratel

Ein Vormund hat vorzüglich für die Person des Minderjährigen zu sorgen, zugleich aber dessen Vermögen zu verwalten. Ein Kurator wird zur Besorgung der Angelegenheiten derjenigen gebraucht, welche dieselben aus einem andern Grunde, als jenem der Minderjährigkeit selbst zu besorgen unfähig sind.

 

ABGB § 213

Ist einem Minderjährigen ein Vormund oder ein besonderer Beistand zu bestellen und lässt sich eine hierfür geeignete Person nicht finden, so hat das Gericht das Amt für Soziale Dienste zu bestellen.

 

 

Translation[16]

 

Statutes

 

Civil Code § 137a

1) Third parties may intervene in children's relationships with their parents only insofar as this is permitted by the parents, by the law directly, or through an official decision.

2) Unless otherwise specified below, on the motion of a parent or the child, the court can set aside the other parent's refusal to give consent, or even the refusal of both parents, where a proceeding, measure, or order is concerned, which is urgently required for the child's well-being, and which will not unreasonably injure legitimate interests of the parents.

 

Civil Code § 147

If a child over 14 has presented his views on his education to his parents without success, he can appeal to the court.  After careful consideration of the reasons advanced by the parents and the child, the court must make an appropriate order for the child's well being.

 

Civil Code § 178b

Consideration of the child's views

Before issuing orders that affect the care or upbringing of a child, the court must hear the child in person.  A child under 10 years of age can also be questioned in another suitable way through the office of social services.  The child is not to be heard, when through the interview or through a delay of the order, the child's well being will be endangered, or when in view of the child's age or development, an expression of opinion is not to be expected.

 

Civil Code § 181a

1) The following have a right to a hearing (in the adoption context):

1.  The non-emancipated child of at least five years of age, unless it has already lived with the adoptive parents to this point;

2.  The parents of a child who is of age;

3.  The foster parents or the head of the household in which the child resides;

4.  The office of social services.

2) The right to a hearing of one of the parties listed in paragraph 1 is waived, when he, as the legal representative of the child, has concluded a contract of adoption; or when he cannot be heard; or when he cannot be heard without unusual difficulties.

 

Civil Code § 186a

4) Before making a decision (in proceedings concerning transfer of custody to foster parents), the court must hear the parents, the legal representative, the foster parents, others with rights connected to the child's upbringing, the office of social services, and always a child over 10 years old.

 

Civil Code § 187

Definition of Vormund, Kuratel, and Beistand

1) A minor is entitled to a Vormund, when there is not at least one person entitled to provide him with limited legal representation in the framework of custody.

 

Civil Code § 188

The difference between a Vormund and a Kuratel

A Vormund must care for the person of a minor, while also administering the minor's property.  A Kuratel is needed for the administration of the affairs of anyone who, on any ground other than minority, cannot look after himself.

 

Civil Code § 213

If a child needs a Vormund or special Beistand and an appropriate person cannot be found, the court is to appoint the office of social services to represent the child.

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[2] This discussion is limited to the Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended,.  While Liechtenstein's rules of civil procedure might appear to have relevance here, they do not, in that they do not govern family law proceedings.  This discussion also will exclude Liechtenstein's Jugendgesetz, or Youth Law.  While profoundly relevant to children and youth, the Jugendgesetz does not bear on the right of children to be heard in child protective proceedings.

[3] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [ABG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 178b, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 181, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[7] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 186a, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[8] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 137a(2) , available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[9] Id.

[10] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 147, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[11] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial report of States parties due in 1998: Liechtenstein, ¶ 87, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/61/Add.1 (Aug. 2, 1999), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/689e26017f389ad3802568c4005323e6?Opendocument, and also as .pdf Document.

[12] Id. ¶ 130.

[13] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 187, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word DocumentThis discussion uses the German term, rather than attempting a translation, in order to maintain a clear distinction between the Vormund and other types of legal representative provided for under the AGBG, e.g., Kuratel, Beistand, Beirat.

[14] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 188, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[15] Allgemeines Bürgeliches Gesetzbuch [AGBG] [Civil Code] Landesgesetzblatt [LGBl] No. 34/1967, as amended, § 213, available at http://recht.li, and also here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[16] All translations are unofficial.

 

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