U.S. Ratification of Hague Child Support Convention
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
DATE: August 30, 2016
TO: ALL STATE AND TRIBAL IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: U.S. Ratification of the Hague Child Support Convention
Today, August 30, the President signed the Instrument of Ratification for the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (Hague Child Support Convention). This is the first global child support treaty ratified by the United States. It contains groundbreaking provisions that, for the first time on a world-wide scale, establish uniform, inexpensive, and effective procedures for the processing of international child support cases.
The United States actively participated in the development of the Convention from the beginning of negotiations in 2003. The United States was the first country to sign on to the approved Convention in 2007 under the previous Administration. The Senate gave its advice and consent to the Convention in 2010, and -- with bipartisan support -- the Congress passed needed federal legislation in 2014. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws immediately drafted amendments to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) to implement the Convention at the state level. By the spring of this year, all states had enacted UIFSA, the last step before the President could sign the Instrument of Ratification.
There are approximately 15 million child support cases in the United States, including an estimated 150,000 international cases. These cases have been primarily handled under bilateral agreements that the U.S. has with 14 countries and 12 Canadian provinces. Bilateral agreements require time-consuming country-by-country negotiations. As a result of U.S. ratification of the Hague Child Support Convention, we will have a treaty relationship with 31 countries in which the Convention is already in force, including the European Union. U.S. families will benefit from the Convention’s expedited cost-free procedures for enforcing support orders. That means more U.S. families will receive timely support without regard to whether both parents live in this country.
A few highlights from the Hague Child Support Convention:
- The Convention provides a legal framework and administrative procedures that are both ground breaking and results-oriented.
- The Convention will greatly speed up the enforcement of U.S. orders. It limits the circumstances under which a court can review and object to an order. It requires recognition of a U.S. order unless a respondent timely raises a challenge and it limits available objections that the respondent may raise to those similar to ones now allowed under U.S. law.
- The Convention recognizes U.S. due process requirements. It allows a challenge to recognition of a foreign support order if there was a lack of notice and an opportunity for a hearing. It allows a challenge if the order does not comply with U.S. jurisdictional rules. And it allows a court to refuse recognition of an order if it is manifestly incompatible with public policy.
- The Convention requires treaty countries to provide free legal assistance in child support cases. As you know, Title IV-D agencies in the U.S. already provide such assistance. Now other Convention countries must provide cost-free services to U.S. residents.
- The Convention provides standardized procedures and timeframes. Each Convention country must follow certain procedures to recognize and enforce child support orders. They must meet certain timeframes for allowing a challenge to an order and for providing status updates. Additionally, there are recommended standardized forms that will reduce the need for a country to request additional information.
We look forward to working with other countries and the Hague Conference on the important work of implementing this Convention. We will be issuing policy guidance for state child support agencies and developing implementation resources to address the processing of Convention cases under UIFSA 2008.
Office of Child Support Enforcement
cc: ACF OCSE Regional Program Managers
Tribal IV-D Directors