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House bill may ease international child support collection

Photo of Karen Lavin

As McHenry County readers may know, raising children can be very expensive. From diapers to college, children cost a lot of money. Under Illinois family law, both parents have an obligation to financially support their children. When parents divorce, the court will award child support payments to ensure that children continue to receive the support they are entitled to under the law.

The issue of child support can become very complicated if one parent decides to move out of the United States. In that case, the parent is still obligated under Illinois law to pay child support. However, it often becomes difficult, if not impossible, to enforce child support orders and get the international parent to pay.

Right now, the United States has bilateral agreements with 15 countries to mutually enforce child support orders. In those countries, the government is supposed to recognize the support order and enforce payment. This is still a lengthy process and families sometimes wait up to five years for the country to enforce the child support order. Outside of those 15 countries, it may be even more difficult and take even more time to collect.

Recently, the House of Representatives has taken a step to change this system. On June 5, the House passed a bill representing a step toward U.S. ratification of an international treaty that may simplify international child support collection and enforcement.

If this treaty is eventually ratified, it will streamline the child support system for all the countries involved. It will make the process quicker and simpler by allowing easier access to information. It will also ensure that participating countries work together so that children are financially supported.

The House vote is a big step in the right direction for making international child support easier and faster to collect. The legislation must now pass through the Senate in order for the treaty to be ratified. Illinois children deserve the financial support of both their parents, and this treaty may help them get it.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "House acts on international child support treaty," Jim Abrams, June 6, 2012

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