Yes- depending on what country the child’s other parent is living in. First and foremost, you must have a valid child support order issued by a United States court. And in all cases you should always first attempt all of the traditional methods of child support enforcement before taking more drastic measures.
In What Counties May I Enforce a Child Support Order?
There are several countries that have signed agreements with the United States federal government saying that they will cooperate in helping enforce a child support order that was issued in the U.S. when the parent owing support lives in that country. The following countries have agreed to help enforce U.S.child support orders.
- Bosnia and Herzegovinia
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- Slovak Republic
- United Kingdom
If the child’s other parent lives in one of the countries on this list, then the first step is to contact and work closely with your state’s child support agency. They will typically have the resources to contact the necessary offices abroad in order to enforce your child support agreement.
What If the Child’s Other Parent Lives In a Country That Is Not On That List?
Even if the country that your child’s other parent has moved to is not on the list, meaning there are no federal agreements with that country, individual U.S. states sometimes have an agreement with nearby countries (e.g. Mexico). Have your attorney check state laws to see if your state has established an agreement with a nearby country.
If there is no state or federal agreement, it still may be possible to collect child support, but it will be much more difficult. In such a situation, you would essentially have to get the foreign country to issue a child support order, and not all countries have child support laws. It is possible that you may not be able to enforce a child support order if the other parent lives in a country with no child support laws. You will almost certainly need an attorney to navigate the complex situation and advocate on your behalf if the other child’s parent lives in a country not on the list.
What if I Suspect My Child’s Other Parent Left the U.S., but I’m Not Sure Exactly Where They Are?
Sometimes a parent moves to a different country, at times perhaps for the purpose of avoiding the child support order. If your child’s other parent has left the country, check with U.S. embassies in countries that the parent may have moved to. They can tell you if the parent has registered with a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Detailed or confidential information, however, is usually protected by privacy acts and cannot be revealed. Foreign embassies do not have the personnel to help you find a missing parent, but they can usually refer you to a local investigator, if necessary.
If the absent parent is a U.S. government employee, such as a member of the United States Armed Forces, the U.S. has a wide variety of resources to help enforce your child support agreements and will locate the person.
What if I Live Abroad and Need to Seek Child Support from the Other Parent Living in the U.S.?
If your child is a U.S. citizen and you are living abroad, then you will need to contact the child support agency in the state that the other parent lives in order to begin the process for obtaining child support. Child support laws differ between states, so you must contact the individual state office..
If I Owe Child Support, Will I Be Able To Leave The Country?
Because some parents who owe child support will intentionally leave the country to avoid having to make child support payments, the U.S. has a restriction regarding passports for anyone who owes past due child support. A parent who owes more than $2,500 in child support obligations will have their passport application denied and any existing passports may be revoked.Other countries have similar restrictions.
If you find yourself with a revoked passport or a denied passport application as a result of past due child support, the only sure fix is to pay the full amount of child support that you are behind.
Do I Need a Family Attorney for Help with Child Support Issues?
Enforcing a child support order internationally can get very complicated. An attorney will be able to guide you through the process of enforcing the child support agreement, dealing with government agencies, and possibly dealing with foreign agencies. If you need help enforcing a child support order while the child’s other parent lives in another country, contact a child support attorney immediately.