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U.S. House passes international child support legislation

Earlier this month, legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives which, if it becomes law, will make it much easier for parents and state agencies to collect child support from parents who live in other countries.

Specifically, the U.S. will ratify the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Although the government signed the treaty along with the European Union and several other countries, Norway is the only country to ratify it thus far.

The United States currently has bilateral child support agreements with 15 countries. However, it remains difficult to collect child support owed by parents who are living internationally. In a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this spring, the former president of the National Child Support Enforcement Association testified that while child support agencies in the U.S. generally enforce child support obligations from other jurisdictions, many foreign countries have refused or failed to enforce child support orders from U.S. family courts.

In one example, the director of child support for the Michigan department of human services testified that her state is currently dealing with between 4,000 and 5,000 child support cases in which one parent lives in a foreign country. It is common, she said, for families to wait five or more years for a support obligation to be established, even when there is a bilateral agreement between that parent’s country of residence and the U.S.

As parents who rely on child support well know, five years is a long time to wait for support payments. Hopefully, the U.S. acts to ratify this treaty soon in order to make this process less time-consuming and complicated.

Source: Greenfield Reporter, “House acts on international child support treaty,” Jim Abrams, June 5, 2012

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