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International child support subject of new bill proposal

International child support enforcement is an issue for many in California who have one parent of a child living in a foreign country. The enforcement of a child support obligation can take as many as five years or more to be established, and that only includes the 15 countries where bilateral agreements exist to cooperate on these issues. But it may be that help is on the way in the form of a formal ratification of a global treaty involving child support enforcement.

In an effort to address the difficulty for states like California in collecting child support from parents living out of the country, Congress is considering new legislation. This new proposed law would ratify The 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance treaty. The treaty was signed by several countries, including the U.S., but so far only one country has actually ratified it.

Legislation to ratify the treaty has already passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting Senate action. If approved, the bill would go to the President's desk for signature, and it may help many families get the child support to which they are entitled. Proponents of the ratification note that while the United States often enforces child support orders from nations with which it currently has individual agreements, often the reciprocal is not true. This failure to enforce American child support orders has led to long waits for many custodial parents as they work to get the child support that they need.

Similar to child support orders for parents who reside in the United States, the orders for foreign parents also most often require payments be to be made until a child is an adult. One significant challenge in enforcing these long-term orders is the difficulty in information sharing between countries. If the treaty is actually ratified, communication should improve and hopefully result in quicker enforcement of child support orders abroad.

Source: Associated Press, "House acts on international child support treaty," Jim Abrams, June 5, 2012

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