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Child support may be easier to collect from parents living abroad

The United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill that could make it easier for child support to be collected from parents who reside outside of the United States. The bill is an attempt to ratify a 2007 international treaty with other countries. If fully ratified, it will allow child support agencies in Massachusetts and other states the ability to cooperate better with other countries in seeking enforcement of child support orders from noncustodial parents living in other member countries.

The bill has yet to be approved by Senate. However, in 2010 the Senate gave their initial consent for the treaty. The matter will still need to be reviewed by the Senate, however, and the language of the legislation will have been approved before it is passed into law. No information was disclosed as to how the Senate is expected to vote.

Currently, the United States has separate, bilateral contracts with 15 countries concerning the collection of child support. However, if the ratification of this treaty is passed, it is anticipated that the legal obligations that originate out of United States family court proceedings will be more easily enforced across international borders with other countries who are party to the treaty. This enforcement has not caught on yet in other countries outside of Europe, though, and only Norway has ratified it, leaving much work to be done.

Massachusetts custodial parents who are looking to collect child support often have a difficult enough time doing so when the opposing party resides within the United States. This difficulty can be magnified if the noncustodial parent resides in another country. If this treaty is ratified however, the rights of individuals entitled to child support payments may be significantly increased.

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

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