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Foreign child support can be challenging to collect

There has been an increase in the number of parents who have been ordered to pay child support that live outside of the country. Whether due to the globalization of the economy or other reasons, the reality is that it can be difficult for states like Massachusetts to collect child support from these foreign living parents. In fact, according to some reports, it can take as many as five years or more for a foreign support obligation to be fulfilled, even when the U.S. has an agreement in place with the country in which the individual resides.

In an effort to change the long wait that many families endure when a parent lives outside of the country, one national legislator has introduced a bill seeking to have the United States ratify a treaty signed some five years ago. The 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance treaty was signed by not only the U.S. but also many other countries when it was created. However, only one country has actually ratified the treaty, which was intended to make collecting international child support easier.

Currently, states have a difficult time collecting child support in part because communication with a foreign nation's enforcement agencies can be difficult. There is no standardized process for sharing information about those who should be paying child support for children left here in the U.S. Without a streamlining of information, it can be difficult for a state like Massachusetts to even locate the parent obligated to pay, let alone arrange a wage garnishment or other enforcement measure.

Like parents who live in the U.S. and have been ordered to pay child support, the obligation for parents living abroad extends until the child reaches the age of 18, and in some instances longer. For many families, this, in combination with the difficulty in establishing a child support obligation, can mean years of financial hardship. Now, many hope that a possible ratification of the treaty will ease difficulty in collecting child support and provide relief to families across the nation.

Source: KWQC-TV6, "House acts on international child support treaty," Jim Abrams, June 5, 2012

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