International Treaty on Child Support Enforcement

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Issue: International Treaty on Child Support Enforcement

Impact:

If ratified by the U.S., the new treaty would facilitate the enforcement of U.S. support orders in other countries that have also ratified the treaty.

Position:

State court leaders support ratification of the Convention. (COSCA Resolution 08-M-2 and CCJ Resolution 09-A-5)

Summary:

The U.S. is not a party to any existing international child support treaties.  In 2002, the Hague Conference on Private International Law established a Special Commission on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance to develop a new comprehensive treaty.  The Convention applies to support obligations arising from a parent-child relationship towards a child under the age of 21, regardless of the marital relationship of the parents.  The Convention provides for recognition and enforcement of support orders and the establishment of support orders when one does not already exist or the receiving country cannot recognize the existing order. The Convention requires the recognition and enforcement of an order made by a participating country if it is enforceable in the country of origin and one of the specified bases for jurisdiction is present.  The Convention also provides for limited grounds for refusing recognition and enforcement, translation of documents, and costs of services.   

Status:

From 2003-2007, over 50 countries participated in treaty negotiations.  The Final Act was approved on 11/23/07.  On 11/23/07, the U.S. signed the Act signaling its intention to seek ratification of the treaty.  The 2008 modifications to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) are the vehicle for US compliance with the treaty.  Then President Bush submitted an advice and consent request to the Senate on 9/9/08.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a hearing on 10/6/09 and on 11/17/09 recommended approval of the Convention.  On 1/22/10, the Committee filed its report (Exec. Rept. 111-2), which included the CCJ and COSCA resolutions.   

On 9/29/10, the Senate gave its advice and consent to the Convention (Treaty Document 110-21) by a voice vote.  The approved resolution includes 2 reservations.  One reservation makes it clear that the US will not recognize support decisions rendered on 3 jurisdictional bases - (1) residence of the creditor, if there is no nexus between the debtor and the forum; the parties; (2) agreement to the forum taking jurisdiction, when the forum has no nexus to either party; and (3) jurisdiction over the marriage, even though the forum does not have personal jurisdiction over the parties.

On 1/1/13, the Convention went into force between Norway and Albania. The treaty is currently in force in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, Ukraine, and the 27 countries that are members of the European Union.

On 3/28/12, Representatives Rick Berg (R-ND) introduced HR 4282, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, which would require states to adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments verbatim.  On 6/5/12, the House approved HR 4282 by a voice vote under suspension of the rules.  On 5/9/13, House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) introduced H.R. 1896, which mirrored H.R. 4282.  On 6/18/13, the House approved HR 1896 by a vote of 394 to 27. 

On 12/19/13, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Supporting At-Risk Children Act (S. 1870) and the Child Support Improvement and Work Promotion Act (S. 1877).  S. 1877 included language to implement the Convention, including the requirement for states to adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments.  S. 1870 included the language of S. 1877, as well as child welfare-related provisions.  On 12/19/13, the Senate Finance Committee reported the bill favorably.

On 6/26/14, the leadership of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee announced bi-partisan agreement on a new bill, Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980).  This legislation reflected agreements reached between the House and Senate negotiators, reconciling differences on three bills previously approved by the House (H.R. 1896, H.R. 3205, and H.R. 4058) and the Senate Finance Committee (S. 1876, S. 1877, and S. 1878).  The legislation includes numerous provisions, including requiring every state to adopt the 2008 UIFSA amendments Congress approved the legislation prior to their fall recess. On 9/29/14, the President signed H.R. 4980 making it P.L. 113-183.

As of April 2016, all 53 jurisdictions had enacted the 2008 UIFSA amendments.  On 8/30/16, the President signed the instrument of ratification for The Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.  On 9/7/16, the instrument of ratification was deposited in the Netherlands.  The effective date for the international child support treaty to enter into force for the United States is 1/1/17.