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U.S. House approves international child support measure

Although the United States currently has bilateral child support enforcement agreements with 15 nations, this number could increase following the approval of an international child support treaty by the U.S. House of Representatives. If approved by the Senate, the measure would make it easier for parents in Maryland and other states to recover child support payments owed by noncustodial parents living outside of the country.

Currently, a Maryland parent who wishes to collect child support from an individual in a different country generally has to endure long delays before seeing any money, even if the nation in question has an established enforcement agreement with the United States. The child support director for one state explained that families often must wait for five years or more to see if their request for child support is approved in another country.

Supporters of the treaty say it would help parents more easily claim the financial support they are owed. The bill's Republican sponsor explained, "This bill is about empowering states, which operate the child support enforcement program, to do more to help families, and most importantly, children." The National Child Support Enforcement Association also urged lawmakers to pass the measure, arguing that an increasing number of parents are skipping out on their obligations by fleeing the country.

The treaty, known as the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, was created in 2007. Though it was signed by the U.S., the United Nations, the European Union and a number of additional nations, only one country has ratified the treaty thus far. The U.S. would become the second nation to do so if the bill is passed. The Senate consented to the convention in 2010, but has not yet voted to approve the initiative.

Parents living in Maryland who wish to collect child support or have an existing support order modified should contact a qualified family law attorney. Right now there is not much else to do if a parent in another country is failing to make ordered payments.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "House acts on international child support treaty," Jim Abrams, June 6, 2012

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