House Passes International Child Support Legislation


Posted on June 6th, 2012, by Benjamin Carafiol in Family Law. 2 comments

This past Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed House Resolution 4282, which puts the the United States one step closer to the easier and more effective collection of child support payments from parents living abroad. The International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, passed unanimously by the House, provides key language that will allow the U.S. and individual states to implement the terms of the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.

As reported by WTOP and other outlets (via the Associated Press):

The 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance has been signed by the United States, the European Union and several other mostly European countries, including Ukraine, Albania, Norway and Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far, only Norway has ratified it.

Under federal law, ratification of a treaty like the 2007 Hague Convention requires cooperation between the President and the Senate. The President is empowered to negotiate and sign a treaty, but two-thirds of the Senate must consent to the ratification of a treaty before it can become binding on the United States.

The Senate gave its consent to the 2007 Hague Convention in 2010, so at this point the issue is implementation, not ratification.

A treaty by itself is an agreement, similar to a contract, whereby international states or organizations agree to a set of rules. Signing a treaty obligates the United States not to take actions that would go against the purpose of the treaty itself, but the treaty does not change the laws of the United States. That can only be done through the legislative process, with bills like HR 4282 being drafted, passed, and (hopefully) signed into law by the President to modify U.S. law to implement the treaty and enable the United States to fully comply with its terms and obligations.

As things currently stand, states can (and mostly do) recognize foreign child support orders, but problems arise when foreign countries do not reciprocate these efforts, making it extremely difficult to collect child support from parents subject to U.S. child support orders living abroad. It is not uncommon for parents and children to wait several years before the foreign country establishes and enforces a child support obligation. This problem is what the 2007 Hague Convention was designed to combat, and implementing this treaty through HR 4282 will help cut down this lag time.

In an increasingly interconnected world, more and more individuals live and work outside of the United States. As more parents leave their children behind, for work or otherwise, the issue of international child support enforcement will only become more important. The family law attorneys at Livesay & Myers, P.C., handle child support cases throughout Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Woodbridge, Stafford, Fredericksburg, and all of Northern Virginia. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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About 

Ben Carafiol is a senior family lawyer in the Fredericksburg office of Livesay & Myers. He has years of experience representing clients in the courts of Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania and surrounding areas. Knowledgeable in all areas of family law, he is particularly experienced with issues of military and government retirement.



2 responses to “House Passes International Child Support Legislation”

  1. Christine Angeletakis says:

    Dear Mr. Carafiol:

    I saw the article on the International Child Support Recovery Act, so I thought I would write to you. I am confused about this Act and thought you might help clarify some issues.

    I read that on June 18, 2013 the House adopted the International Child Support Recovery Act (H.R. 1896). How much farther does this act need to go to be ratified by the U.S. and enacted into law?

    I also read in the Act, in Article 56, paragraph 3:

    The State addressed shall not be bound under this Convention to enforce a decision or a maintenance arrangement, in respect of payments falling due prior to the entry into force of the Convention between the State of origin and the State addressed, except for maintenance obligations arising from a parent-child relationship towards a person under the age of 21 years.

    Will this make the age limit 21 for U.S. enforcement for international child support orders? Do you know what might happen to international orders for children over 21 that are already being enforced?

    Thank you for your help.

    Christine Angeletakis

    Orange, CA

  2. @Ms. Angeletakis:

    You are correct that on June 18 of this year, the House passed the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act. The reason the House has again passed the Act is because the previous session of Congress (the 112th) did not pass the bill into law prior to the end of that session. The Senate did not sign the previous version, so it was not presented to President Obama for either his signature or veto. At this point in time, the 113th Congress (specifically the Senate) is considering the Act. It must pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President.

    Article 56 is not from the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act, but from the 2007 Hague Convention – the underlying treaty that the Act seeks to implement. Article 56 is titled “Transitional provisions,” and is aimed at addressing cases that arise while States (not states in the USA, but different countries) are joining under the treaty. A State joining in the treaty shall not be required to enforce the decision of another State that predates both States signing the Hague Convention unless it is a child support obligation for a person under age 21. If a child support order was entered before the United States signed the Hague Convention, and the “child” in question is over 21, then the foreign support order is not enforceable in the United States under this treaty. For orders that are created after ratification of the treaty (both here in the US and in the other country), the age limit of 21 does not apply as it would not be a “decision or maintenance arrangement” that came due prior to ratification.

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