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Law would make foreign child support collection easier

Divorced Massachusetts parents know that it can sometimes be difficult to collect child support awards. A good attorney and familiarity with state laws governing child support can help ensure collection, but difficulties can remain. One situation which can be especially troublesome, for a variety of reasons, is when the parent owing the support lives outside of the United States.

One of the problems in international child support enforcement is the lack of a cohesive system for communication and processing support requests. Even though the United States and 15 other nations have struck mutual agreements to enforce child support orders, families frequently have to wait five years or more for the international child support that they are entitled to. Often this is because other nations simply to do not process child support orders issued by U.S. courts.

But a recent treaty could alleviate some of those issues. The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance was meant to help establish a system to enforce child support across borders. The 2007 treaty, which has been signed by the United States, the European Union and a number of other countries, was never ratified by the United States.

Federal lawmakers have recently taken action on the treaty, however. A bill passed recently in the United States House of Representatives, and now under consideration in the Senate, would at last create the means to implement the treaty. The bill would also create a uniform international information sharing process.

Because more and more parents are internationally mobile, a standardized system that ensures the fulfillment of child support orders has become critical. Treaties establishing standardized policies on support requests and information sharing are essential for families to get the support they are entitled to.

Source: The Washington Post, "House acts on international child support treaty," June 5, 2012.

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