France tries to collect €10k from fatherless girl

A 13-year-old girl in western France has been told she must pay back the €10,000 that was given to her by the state after her sailor father was killed in an accident.

France tries to collect €10k from fatherless girl
The teenager was told last week that she must pay back €10,000 in just 15 days. Euros: Shutterstock

The girl’s father, Stéphane Herault, who worked as a fisherman, died in 2013 while trying to save a colleague who had fallen into the sea during a stopover.

As a result his now 13-year-old daughter Océane was entitled to €5000 as well as an “orphan’s pension” of €500 per month from the National Institution for Disabled Marines (ENIM).

However, in a bizarre bureaucratic twist, the teenager received a letter last week telling her that she had just 15 days to pay back the €10,000 she has so far received.

The order was made following an appeal by the ship owner who said that Océane was not entitled to the money because high levels of alcohol had been discovered in Hérault’s system in an autopsy carried out the day after the accident. 

“If we had known in the beginning that Stéphane Hérault was drunk during the incident, we would never have agreed to this allowance for his daughter,” he said, according to Le Figaro.

Reacting to the news, the girl’s mother Karine Béranger said: “It’s awful, this premium. It’s the only thing that she got from her father, who only left her debts.”

“Sure, the accident happened in his free time, but if he wasn’t a sea fisherman, he would never have been on board the boat. That seems obvious to me,” she said.

Béranger added that most of the money had been put in a bank account for Océane’s future studies.

“The rest helps her to pay for recreational activities, to improve her ordinary life a bit, which I can’t afford to do with my salary,” she said.

Béranger has now lodged an appeal with a Social Court.

For now ENIM has stopped demands for the girl to repay the money but has suspended the payments pending the court’s decision.

Meanwhile, Océane continues to receive another allowance of just €100 per month. 

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.