Child support can often be a difficult topic. Nobody wants to alienate the parent of their child or unintentionally taint the relationship. But both parties need to do what courts determine is right when it comes to the best interests of the child, even if one parent is resistant.

This can become even more complicated in cases where one parent lives outside the U.S. While there are options for enforcing child support orders in foreign countries, it is easier in some places than others. Though it is rarely simple and will likely require the assistance of an attorney.

Reciprocating countries

In order to respond to international child support cases, the United States has reciprocity agreements with a few dozen countries. In cases where an individual who needs to pay child support lives in one of these countries, their Central Authority will help enforce the child support order.

In addition, some states have their own agreements with countries. California for example has agreements with:

  • Bermuda
  • Province of Quebec
  • Fiji
  • Mexico
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of South Africa

Whether the custodial parent lives in the U.S. and is attempting to get child support from someone in one of these other countries, or vice versa, the agreements that are in place can help make the process go more smoothly.

If the case doesn’t involve a reciprocating country

In cases where one of the countries involved does not have a reciprocity agreement with the U.S., enforcing child support orders will likely be more challenging.

If the custodial parent lives in the U.S. and is trying to get child support from the non-custodial parent in a country that does not have a reciprocity agreement, child support agencies generally aren’t able to help at all. Instead, the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement suggests reaching out to an attorney to discuss possibilities.

However, if the person that owes child support works for a U.S. company or owns assets in the U.S. – despite living in a foreign country – then it might be possible to apply income withholding or pursue other legal solutions, the office says.

Going the other direction can be a bit easier. If the custodial parent lives in a country that does not have a reciprocity agreement with the U.S. or state of California, but the parent that owes child support lives in the United States, it may be possible to apply directly for help with the appropriate child support agency in the applicable state.

A complex situation

Most cases involving international child support arrangements will be at least somewhat difficult. For those that involve countries with no child support enforcement arrangement, it becomes even tougher and more complex. This can be especially true if the parent owing child support is intentionally making themselves difficult to find.

There are options, however, though pursuing them might require a resourceful attorney that can help chip away at these different possibilities. Whatever the case, no matter where one parent may live, their child deserves the proper amount of support. No border can change that.