New legislation that has been approved by the House of Representatives is aimed at making it easier for states to collect child support payments when parents live outside the country.  The measure is the first step towards the United States’ ratification of an international treaty on child support, which would also make it easier to collect child support payments from parents who live abroad.

That international treaty is called the 2007 Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, and participating countries include the European Union, the United States and a number of European countries.  Members agree that they will cooperate in ensuring that children receive the child support payments that they’re entitled to under the law.  However thus far, the treaty has been ratified only by Norway.

The sponsor of the U.S. bill was Representative Rick Berg, Republican-North Dakota.  The United States Senate approved of the treaty in 2010, and the new piece of legislation which has just been approved by the House will next go to the Senate for its approval.

The legislation is meant to make it easier for states to collect financial support payments when parents live outside the country.  In most such cases, when persons have crossed borders, and now live outside of the United States, the United States tries to enforce child support laws through bilateral agreements.  However, even with a bilateral agreement, Seattle family lawyers find that it can take many years for a support obligation to be established.  Some state family service agencies in the United States handle thousands of cases that involve at least one parent living outside the United States.  In such cases, it is common for families to have to wait at least 5 years until the support obligation can be established, even if there is a bilateral agreement in place.


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