Tag Archive for: child support payments

Child Support Enforcement and the Hague Convention on Recovery of International Child Support

The Hague Convention provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another. The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support is a multilateral treaty governing the enforcement of judicial decisions regarding child support (and other forms of family support) extraterritorially.

Relationships between families from different countries and cultures can be complex, especially when a children’s well-being and financial support are involved. In fact, there are approximately 15 million child support cases in the United States, including an estimated 150,000 international cases. In cases where parents reside in different countries, ensuring child support can become even more challenging. With the growing number of international families, there is an uptick in international parental child abductions where parents illegally take their child or children overseas without the other parent’s consent.

The Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“The Hague Convention”) was enacted into law through the International Child Abduction Remedies Act (“ICARA”) which provides that a parent whose child has been wrongfully removed from or retained in the United States may petition for the child’s return to his or her country of habitual residence.

The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, also referred to as the Hague Maintenance Convention or the Hague Child Support Convention is a multilateral treaty governing the enforcement of judicial decisions regarding child support (and other forms of family support) extraterritorially. It is one of a number of conventions in the area of private international law of the Hague Conference on Private International Law in 2007.

Understanding Hague Child Support Convention

The Convention of 23 November 2007 on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (HCCH 2007 Child Support Convention) and the Protocol of 23 November 2007 on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations (HCCH 2007 Maintenance Obligations Protocol) seeks to establish a modern, efficient and accessible international system for the cross-border recovery of child support and other forms of family maintenance. This specialized section contains a range of information on the Convention and the Protocol, including their full texts, current status, explanatory documents and other materials which will assist those working with these instruments.

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.

Key Areas of the Hague Child Support Convention

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.

Determine the Applicable Countries

In order to navigate international child support, it is crucial to determine which countries are involved in your specific situation. The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance was ratified by the United States Senate in 2010 and the treaty was signed in August of 2016.  The Hague Convention entered into full force in the Unites States on January 1, 2017, with 33 countries agreeing to work together to establish and enforce child support orders across international borders – since then, more countries have proceeded with the ratification process and are joining the effort. 

Central Authority Involvement

In navigating international child support cases under the Hague Convention, the involvement of the Central Authority is crucial. The Central Authority in your country is a key facilitator responsible for communication and coordination between the parties involved. They act as the vital link between the applicant and the Central Authority of the other participating country, streamlining the exchange of information and ensuring the smooth progress of the case.

One of the primary roles of the Central Authority is to assist in locating the obligor, the parent responsible for paying child support. They employ various mechanisms and resources to find the obligor. This includes:

  • Collaborating with relevant authorities.
  • Conducting investigations.
  • Utilizing international cooperation channels and more.

This process is essential to establish contact with the obligor and initiate legal proceedings. Additionally, the Central Authority aids in obtaining and transmitting relevant documents necessary to the case. These documents can include court orders, financial statements, and other evidence related to child support obligations. The Central Authority ensures that all necessary paperwork is prepared correctly and shared with the Central Authority of the other participating country. By doing so, they can maintain a clear and transparent flow of information.

Obtaining a Hague Child Support Convention Order

After locating the obligor, the Central Authority takes the necessary steps to initiate legal proceedings in the foreign country. They aim to obtain a child support order that outlines the amount and method of child support payments. This order must align with the laws of both the issuing and recipient countries to ensure its enforceability across borders.

Once the Central Authority has successfully obtained the child support order, they actively enforce it within the foreign country. To secure compliance, authorities can employ various enforcement measures, such as wage garnishment or intercepting tax refunds. Through these measures, the Central Authority ensures that the recipient receives the child support payments as directed by the order. By overseeing the entire process, the Central Authority plays a critical role in facilitating the effective transfer of financial support.

The U.S. Department of State can also help enforce International child Support by:

  1. Providing information through the Consular Affairs Internet home page;
  2. Denying passport services, except for direct return to the United States, to persons the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Support Enforcement (HHS/ACF/OCSE) certifies as $2500 or more in arrears;
  3. Encouraging foreign countries to join the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (Hague Child Support Convention); and
  4. Facilitating communication among parents, U.S. states, foreign countries, and other U.S. Government agencies on this important subject.

Finally, working alongside a trusted family law attorney who is highly experienced in international law and The Hague Convention is essential when dealing with international matters involving children. They can help you navigate this minefield and give practical, realistic advice on outcomes of your case.

Seeking Legal Assistance

Seeking legal assistance is crucial in effectively navigating international child support cases. When you partner with an experienced family law attorney, such as those at Masters Law Group, you gain the support needed to advocate for your interests and secure your child’s financial stability. Our attorneys will guide you through the process, ensuring that necessary adjustments to child support payments are made whenever necessary.

Erin Masters and Anthony Joseph have extensive experience in cases involving international child custody disputes in both courts located in the State of Illinois and the United States federal court system. By providing ongoing support that aligns with your family’s evolving needs, we help you safeguard your child’s well-being, even in situations across international borders. With the right legal help, you can confidently navigate the complexities of international child support and protect your child’s interests.

Final Thoughts

Navigating the complex landscape of international child support can be a challenging endeavor. The Hague Convention on Child Support offers a vital framework that empowers parents to obtain what is legally owed. At Masters Law Group, we understand the complexities involved in international child support matters. We are here to provide unwavering advocacy for you and your family. Our team will tirelessly work towards achieving the best possible outcome for your case.

If you have been denied child support from a parent overseas, we can help hold the delinquent parent accountable and guide you on this frightening journey every step of the way.

Contact us here today to set up a consultation. 

Co-Parenting and The Impact on Child Support

As family dynamics diversify, co-parenting is becoming increasingly popular. But this child-centered approach to parental separation has its own set of opportunities (such as consistency) and challenges (such as who is responsible for child support). Here’s what you should know. 

Co-parenting is a form of parenting relationship in which the two parents are not involved romantically with each other, but assume the joint responsibility of the child. It can be described as any two people jointly raising a minor, irrespective of whether or not they are biological parents. But, in the majority of cases, co-parenting comes after a divorce, separation or a breakup involving a child.

After divorcing (or legally separating), working with your child’s other parent may be uncomfortable to say the least. But making the effort to cooperate with your co-parent  makes things easier for everyone involved. Especially the child/children.

Navigating co-parenting is no easy feat and it can raise questions about the financial obligations of each parent. Let’s dive into the complex world of co-parenting and child support to learn more.

Co-Parenting in Illinois

In Illinois, co-parenting is commonly referred to as joint parenting. Joint parenting refers to an arrangement in which both parents share parental responsibilities and decision-making for the child. The purpose of joint parenting is to ensure that both parents remain involved in the child’s life and that the child’s best interests are always prioritized.

In order to establish joint parenting in Illinois, both parents must submit a parenting plan to the court. The parenting plan should include details about how parental responsibilities will be divided. It should also include decision-making authority, parenting time, and child support.

Child Support Orders

A child support order is determined by what is reasonable and necessary for the support of the child or children. It is presumed that the guideline support amounts represent the amount of support that is reasonable and necessary, unless it can be demonstrated to the court that circumstances exist that would make the guideline amount inappropriate.

Child support is utilized for the child or children’s expenses and looking at the best interests of the child or children to provide a stable home for the child or children. Some common expenses that are associated with child support are:

  • The child’s residence expenses such as mortgage or rent.
  • Utilities such as electricity, gas, and water.
  • The child’s educational expenses such as notebooks, pens, paper, books, sports fees, band fees, etc.
  • The child’s food expenses.
  • The child’s medical expenses. (Illinois Child Support Laws that went into effect on January 1st, 2022 requires that during child support proceedings parents must obtain or maintain health insurance coverage for their child or children.)

If you are concerned about how the court will calculate the child support amount and/or if you are concerned whether your child or children will receive the financial support they need, you should contact your trusted family law attorney.

Impact on Child Support

In Illinois, child support is calculated based on several factors. This includes each parent’s income, the number of children, and the amount of parenting time each parent has. When parents share custody in a co-parenting arrangement, child support is typically calculated differently than in cases where one parent has primary custody.

Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, when parents share custody, child support is calculated based on the “income shares” model. The amount of child support is calculated by determining the total cost of raising the child, and then dividing that cost between the parents based on their incomes. The amended income shares child support guidelines model became effective on January 1, 2019, signed into law as Public Act 100-0923 on August 17, 2018.

It’s important to note that in Illinois, child support obligations are not just financial. Parents who share custody in a co-parenting arrangement are also responsible for making sure their children’s emotional and physical needs are met. This includes the following:

  • Providing a stable and supportive home environment
  • Making decisions about education and healthcare
  • Facilitating communication between the child and both parents.

Co-parenting can be a rewarding and fulfilling way to raise children after a separation or divorce. However, it’s important for parents to work together to ensure that their children’s needs are being met, both financially and emotionally. If you feel your current situation and contract is unjust or incorrect, contact your family law attorney to discuss whether you are eligible for a modification of the order.

Modification of Child Support

In some cases, a parent may experience substantial changes to their financial situation that makes it challenging (or impossible) for them to pay the court-ordered amount of child support. In such cases, the parent can request a modification of the child support order.

To modify a child support obligation in Illinois, you must file a petition with the court that has jurisdiction over your case. The petition should explain the basis for the requested modification and the change in child support obligation you are seeking from the court.

Since the petition is for modifying an existing order, there is no need to have it served by a sheriff. Instead, you can serve notice of the petition through mail at the responding party’s last known address. Note that if the petition seeks additional court action besides the modification of child support, such as a change in parental time and responsibility, it must be served through certified mail at least 30 days prior to the hearing date.

It’s essential to remember that you cannot modify child support through self-help in Illinois. Even if the other party fails to comply with visitation rights, you cannot suspend child support payments without obtaining a court order.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to modify a child support order, it’s always best to consult with a family lawyer.

How We Can Help

The options that come with parenting children after divorce or separation have drastically changed in recent decades. While it can be a blessing to many families who have separated on civil terms, it can be hard to navigate when animosity is present.

At Masters Law Group, we understand the laws and the court process inside and out, giving us the necessary knowledge and experience to ensure that your child is properly provided for.

For experienced legal help with your child support orders, parenting time, and more, contact us today to set up a complimentary consultation.