United States ratifies Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.


The United States deposited its instrument of ratification for the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the Convention) (1) in September 2016. (2) The Convention entered into force for the United States several months later. (3) Ratification was facilitated by the passage of novel federal implementing legislation that--rather than directly mandating alterations to the domestic legal structure --created a financial incentive for states to change their child support laws. While the Idaho legislature displayed some initial resistance, by early 2016 all fifty states had changed the relevant laws, enabling the submission of U.S. ratification.

According to a National Security Council spokesperson, the Convention "contains numerous groundbreaking provisions that, lor the first time on a global scale, will establish uniform, simple, fast, and inexpensive procedures for the processing of international child support cases ...." (4) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry added:

The United States already has a comprehensive system to establish, recognize, and enforce domestic and international child support obligations. The Convention requires that all [parties] have similar systems in place. As a result, more children in the United States and abroad should receive more support, more expeditiously than ever before. (5) The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) (6) identified several key aspects of the Convention. First, it

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. (7) Second,

[t]he 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. (8) Third, the Convention "requires [parties] to provide free legal assistance in child support cases," something U.S. agencies are already required to do. (9) Finally, "[t]he Convention provides standardized procedures and timeframes. Each [parry] must follow certain procedures to recognize and enforce child supporr orders. They must meet certain timeframes for allowing a challenge to an order and for providing status updates." (10)

The United States has supported the Convention since its inception. According to OCSE, "[t]he United States actively participated in the development of the Convention from the beginning of negotiations in 2003." (11) The Convention was concluded on November 23, 2007, and the United States was the first country to sign it a few weeks later. (12) In September 2008, then-President Bush recommended that the Senate consent to ratification "at the earliest possible date," noting that entry into force of the Convention "would be in the interests of U.S. families, as it would enable them to receive child support owed by debtors abroad more quickly and reliably." (13)

The Bush administration recommended two reservations to the Convention. (14) The first proposed reservation related to certain portions of Article 20(1). (15) Absent a reservation, these provisions would require the United States to recognize and enforce decisions made by judicial or administrative authorities of other states parties in the following cases: (1) where "the creditor was habitually resident in [that state] at the time proceedings were instituted;" (2) where "there has been agreement to the jurisdiction in writing by the parties," except "in disputes relating to maintenance obligations in respect of children;" and (3) where "the decision [regarding maintenance obligations] was made by an authority exercising jurisdiction on a matter of personal status or parental responsibility, unless that jurisdiction was based solely on the nationality of one of the parties." (16)

The Bush administration objected to these provisions, for the following reasons: First, " [i]n order to satisfy [U.S.] due process standards, there must be a nexus between the debtor and the forum in order to give the forum jurisdiction over the debtor. In other words, it is the...

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