Being able to support one’s child even after a divorce is critical to maintaining the health and stability of a child and family. If a parent moves out of state or to another country, the other parent may find navigating the process of recovering or enforcing child support to be challenging. For questions involving international and out-of-state child support, consider contacting an experienced Colorado divorce attorney at Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442.
A parent seeking child support when the child’s other parent lives in another state or country has additional hurdles to overcome. Typically, if the parents live in different countries, an international convention or treaty applies to the situation. If parents live in different states in the United States, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act of 2008 generally applies.
The Office of Child Support Enforcement (part of the Administration for Children and Families, or ACF) has central authority over international child custody. That said, states may decide cases involving international child support based on treaties between the United States and countries. The Hague Convention, for example, is an international treaty that specifically deals with child support and family support.
When parents live in different countries, how they pay for or file a lawsuit to recoup child support depends on the agreement between the two countries. For example, if the parent responsible for paying child support lives in the United States and the other parent and the child live in Belgium, the Hague Convention applies to the issue of child support.
When parties live in different states, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (2008) typically is the controlling legal authority. The United State Congress required states to enact this act to help put the Hague Convention into practice and to simplify the process of receiving and pursuing child support when parents reside in different states or countries. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act generally requires states to honor child support orders from other jurisdictions, but exceptions may apply.
To apply for child support, a parent files an appropriate out-of-state child support action in the court covering the area where he or she and the child reside or where the child’s other parent resides. If a parent has an existing child support order and the other parent is not following the requirements in it, he or she typically files an enforcement action with the court that issued the original order. As Colorado’s Division of Child Support Services explains, most interstate child support cases involving Colorado are handled in a similar manner to those in which all parties reside in Colorado.
As the ACF explains, countries with reciprocity for child support include those who have signed the Hague Convention and those with other relevant treaties. In most cases, if a country has reciprocity, it means its government agrees to acknowledge child support orders from countries that have signed the treaty. If you have questions about international and out-of-state child support matters, consider contacting the child support attorneys at Colorado Divorce Law Group.
A country must meet minimum requirements to become a signatory to the Hague Convention. These include providing cost-free child support enforcement actions to member countries (referred to as “States” in the text of the Hague Convention). As of 2023, the Hague Convention has 91 members, including 90 countries and the European Union.
Some countries have signed treaties with other countries regarding honoring orders for child support payment but have not yet signed the Hague Convention. For example, until recently, Australia had not yet signed the Hague Convention but had an existing treaty with the United States. In such cases, the underlying treaty and, where applicable, national law determine the process for the child support action.
Parents living abroad who need to seek child support from a parent living in the United States can file an enforcement action with the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the Administration for Children and Families, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. Because the United States is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the Hague Convention rules apply to the proceeding. In most cases, parents who live abroad and seek child support receive enforcement services without any costs.
For those who live abroad and need help seeking child support from a parent living in the United States, speaking to a knowledgeable child support attorney may be beneficial. The attorney can help the parent navigate the varying state and international laws regarding child support.
Broadly speaking, international child support does exist. Typically, it involves filing an original or enforcement action using the applicable law. For example, if a parent lives in the United States and the other parent and the child live in Austria, the parent seeking child support might file a child support action with the central authority in Austria.
Each country and state has its own rules and requirements regarding how to pay child support. For instance, the United States may allow parents to pay child support obligations via paper check. As the ACF explains, the parent responsible for paying child support typically must make the check payable to the State Disbursement Unit or name the State Disbursement Unit as a co-payee. The State Disbursement Unit then pays the child support to the appropriate party.
Navigating international and out-of-state child support can be challenging, especially when a parent depends on child support to cover essential expenses. By understanding the unique legal process involved with out-of-state child support, parents can equip themselves with the necessary knowledge to move forward. For legal help, consider contacting our experienced legal team at Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.