DATE: October 3, 2016
TO: ALL STATE IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: Open Comment Period – Hague Child Support Convention Case Processing Forms
In compliance with the requirements of section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Administration for Children and Families is soliciting public comment on the estimated annual burden of the case processing forms developed for the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the Hague Child Support Convention). As of September 30, 2016, a 60-day notice for public comment has been posted to the Federal Register in volume 81, number 190, pages 67355-67356. Because the content of the forms was approved during the Convention negotiations, we are only seeking comment on the annual burden estimate for using the forms.
The Hague Child Support Convention will become effective for the United States on January 1, 2017. After that date, U.S. states will process cases with other countries that have ratified the Convention (Convention countries) under the requirements of the Convention and article 7 of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). For more information on the Hague Child Support Convention, UIFSA, and the U.S. ratification process, see OCSE AT-14-11, IM-15-01, DCL-16-11, and DCL-16-12.
In order to prepare child support agencies for processing cases under the Convention, OCSE must seek federal approval of the Convention case processing forms under the Paperwork Reduction Act.
The Hague Convention forms are to be used for case processing between Convention countries. Currently in the U.S., states processing cases with international partners use a mix of forms. Under 45 CFR 303.7(a)(4) state child support agencies must use the federally approved intergovernmental forms or alternative country-specific forms included in the OCSE caseworker guides. However, using a mix of U.S. and country-specific forms adds complexity for U.S. and international caseworkers. Having standard Hague Convention forms to use with all Convention countries will significantly improve communication and facilitate faster and more effective case processing.
The Convention forms include a Mandatory Transmittal form, a Mandatory Acknowledgment form, and 12 Recommended forms grouped together by type of application. Once the Convention is in effect, child support agencies must use the mandatory transmittal form for outgoing cases to Convention countries and the mandatory acknowledgment form for incoming cases from Convention countries. Likewise, Convention countries must use these forms when processing cases with the U.S.
In contrast to the required use of the mandatory forms, each Convention country determines its requirements regarding the use of the 12 recommended Hague forms. When a country ratifies the Convention, it completes a Country Profile, which is a country-specific reference document published on the Hague Conference website, similar to the Intergovernmental Reference Guide on the OCSE website. The Country Profile allows a country to identify whether it wants other Convention countries to use the standard recommended forms when sending an application under the Convention. Alternatively, a Convention country may require use of a different form or may indicate that it does not have a prescribed or preferred form. The United States Country Profile will indicate that other countries must use the Convention’s recommended forms when sending cases to the U.S.
The Convention forms will supersede the country-specific forms (if included in an OCSE caseworker guide) for those Convention countries that have indicated in their Country Profile that their prescribed or preferred forms for incoming cases are the standard recommended forms published by the Hague Conference.
The 14 Hague Convention forms were developed during the Convention negotiations by the Forms Working Group, in which the U.S. played a leadership role. The forms were designed to comply with the Convention and reduce the complexity of international case processing for all Convention countries.
Below are the Hague Convention forms (article references are to the Convention):
Annex A: Recognition or Recognition and Enforcement
Annex B: Enforcement of a Decision Made or Recognized in Requested State
Annex C: Establishment of a Decision
Annex D: Modification of a Decision
Annex E: Financial Circumstances
For instructions and more information about the forms, see the Practical Handbook for Caseworkers under the 2007 Child Support Convention, especially Chapter 15, “Completing the Forms.”
OCSE estimates the annual burden of using the Hague Convention forms to be approximately 13,478 hours in total per year. While we estimate the international caseload to be around one percent of the total U.S. caseload, we anticipate the number of applications processed under the Convention to be initially low for two reasons. First, our Canadian partners have not yet ratified the Hague Convention. Therefore, even after the Convention is in effect, states will continue to process cases with Canada using current procedures and forms. Second, U.S. states will only use the Hague Convention procedures and forms in new applications with Convention countries and not in existing cases, until a major case action is needed in an existing case.
OCSE will not require automation of these forms at this time. In using the forms, states may choose to automate the forms on their systems or print and complete them by hand. We are exploring other electronic means to support states in using the forms and processing Convention cases, including developing fillable PDF forms. We will provide additional guidance and training to states about case processing under the Convention in the near future.
As noted earlier, because the content of the forms was approved during the Convention negotiations, we are only seeking comment on the annual burden estimate for using the forms. Please send your comments to OCSE at OCSE.DPT@acf.hhs.gov by the close of the 60-day comment period, or November 29, 2016.
Following the comment period, we will review the comments, adjust the annual burden estimate if necessary, and submit the forms and information to the Office of Management and Budget for review, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Since the approval process under the Paperwork Reduction Act will not be completed by the January 1, 2017, effective date for the Convention in the U.S., we are also requesting a short‑term emergency approval of the forms. If granted, the emergency approval will be published in the Federal Register and will approve the use of the Convention’s case processing forms starting on January 1, 2017, and until the regular Paperwork Reduction Act approval is granted.
Office of Child Support Enforcement
cc: ACF/OCSE Regional Program Managers
Tribal IV-D Directors