On January 1, 2013, the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance came into effect with the ratifications of Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway, and later Ukraine. Both the United States and the European Union have both signed the convention and are currently in the process of ratifying it. In June 2013, the Convention passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and is currently under review by the Senate’s Committee on Finance.
October 2, 2013 · 10:08 am
Applications for child support will be processed through a Central Authority established by each country. The duties of a Central Authority will usually carried out through a country’s child support agencies. Although these Authorities have several roles, their primary function will be to transmit and receive applications and to facilitate the child support process.
Prior to the Convention, costs of the process may have deterred obiligees from pursuing child support. The Convention mandates that each country provide free legal assistance for child support obligations in terms of the application process. It will be interesting to see how both state and federal legislatures budget for these new expenses here in the United States.
The Convention applies the law of “habitual residence” of the individual obtaining maintenance. Generally, if the decision is made in the country where a person seeking maintenance resides, any future proceedings seeking to modify or make a new decision must be made in the same country as long as the original person seeking maintenance continues to reside there. For example, Husband and Wife get a divorce in Norway, resulting in Husband being ordered to pay child support to Wife. Immediately after the divorce, Husband moves to Ukraine. Five years later, he wants to file a motion to modify. If Wife still lives in Norway, Husband must file his motion there.
In conclusion, the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance will make it easier to recover a child support and family maintenance in an international setting. The goal of the Convention is not to examine decisions on child support orders, but rather to create an efficient process to enforce those orders. While the logistics of creating a Central Authority in each country may be cumbersome in the beginning, today’s globalized economy makes it a necessity to streamline the international family maintenance process.