The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 9, 2008

Message to the Senate of the United States


I transmit herewith the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, adopted at The Hague on November 23, 2007, and signed by the United States on that same date, with a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, subject to the reservations and declaration set forth in the report of the Secretary of State. The report of the Secretary of State, which includes an overview of the Convention, is enclosed for the information of the Senate.

The United States supported the development of the Convention as a means of promoting the establishment and enforcement of child support obligations in cases where the custodial parent and child are in one country and the non-custodial parent is in another. The Convention provides for a comprehensive system of cooperation between the child support authorities of contracting states, establishes procedures for the recognition and enforcement of foreign child support decisions, and requires effective measures for the enforcement of maintenance decisions. It is estimated that there are over 15 million child support cases in the United States and that an increasing number of these cases will involve parties who live in different nations. United States courts already enforce foreign child support orders, while many countries do not do so in the absence of a treaty obligation. Ratification of the Convention will thus mean that more U.S. children will receive the financial support they need from both their parents.

The Department of State and the Department of Health and Human Services, which leads the Federal child support program, support the early ratification of this Convention. The American Bar Association and the National Child Support Enforcement Association have also expressed support for the Convention. Although some new implementing legislation will be required, the proposed Convention is largely consistent with current U.S. Federal and State law. Cases under the Convention will be handled through our existing comprehensive child support system, which involves both Federal and State law. The Departments of State and Health and Human Services have been working on preparation of the necessary amendments to Federal law to ensure compliance with the Convention, and that legislation will soon be ready for submission to the Congress for its consideration. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has worked closely with the Departments of State and Health and Human Services to develop the necessary amendments to uniform State child support legislation.

The Convention requires only two contracting states for entry into force. No state has yet ratified the Convention. Early U.S. ratification would therefore likely hasten the Convention's entry into force. This 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. I therefore recommend that the Senate give prompt and favorable consideration to the Convention and give its advice and consent to ratification, subject to the reservations and declaration described in the accompanying report of the Secretary of State, at the earliest possible date.



September 8, 2008.

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