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11. U.S. Department of State telegram sent to American posts in Latin America and the Caribbean concerning negotiations for reciprocal enforcement of child support obligations, November 28, 2001.


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P 282048z nov 01

Fm Secstate Washdc

To Amembassy Suncion Priority

Amembassy Belize Priority

Amembassy Bogota Priority

Amembassy Brasilia Priority

Amembassy Bridgetown Priority

Amembassy Buenos Aires Priority

Amembassy Caracas Priority

Amembassy Georgetown Priority

Amembassy Grenada Priority

Amembassy Guatemala Priority

Amembassy Kingston Priority

Amembassy La Paz Priority

Amembassy Lima Priority

Amembassy Managua Priority

Amembassy Montevideo Priority

Amembassy Nassau Priority

Amembassy Paramaribo Priority

Amembassy Port Of Spain Priority

Amembassy Quito Priority

Amembassy San Jose Priority

Amembassy San Salvador Priority

Amembassy Santiago Priority

Amembassy Santo Domingo Priority

Amembassy Tegucigalpa Priority

Info Amembassy Mexico Priority

Amembassy Panama Priority

Amembassy Port Au Prince Priority

Amembassy The Hague Priority

Amconsul Curacao Priority

Unclas state 204591

 

E.o. 12958: n/a

Tags: koci, soci, casc, cmgt

Subject: Reciprocal Child Support Enforcement Arrangements

1. This is an action cable (see paras 6-7), except that it

is info only for Panama city, Mexico City, Port au Prince and

The Hague.

2. Begin summary. 1996 welfare reform legislation gives the

Secretary of State, with the concurrence of the Secretary of

Health and Human Services, the authority and responsibility

to negotiate agreements with foreign countries for the

reciprocal enforcement of child support obligations. With

such agreements in place a foreign country is treated as if

it were a state of the U.S. for purposes of child support

enforcement, and all of the procedures and enforcement

mechanisms available in interstate cases are available to

that foreign country. Essentially, it means that a foreign

country's child support order can be readily enforced in the

U.S. at no cost to the foreign parent, and all of the

collection mechanisms available under U.S. law can be used

(e.g. an enormous federal data base to locate absent parents,

garnishment of wages, liens on bank accounts, revocation of

drivers and other licenses, denial of passports). If there

is no foreign order in place, the U.S. state will obtain and

enforce a U.S. court order for the foreign applicant.

Conversely, the foreign country must be able to enforce U.S.

support obligations. The U.S. has agreements in place with a

number of European countries and Canadian provinces, but none

with countries in central or South America or the Caribbean.

We plan to focus on those regions this fiscal year and we

therefore request that addressee posts approach appropriate

host government officials to determine whether host country

is interested in negotiating such an agreement with the U.S.,

and whether host country would have the ability to

reciprocally enforce U.S. child support obligations. Post

should use the information in paragraphs 2-4. Responses are

requested by December 12. End summary.

3. Section 459a of title iv-d of the Social Security Act (42

U.S.c. 659a) authorizes the Secretary of States to declare any

foreign country (or political subdivision thereof) to be a

"foreign reciprocating country" if 1) the foreign country has

established, or undertakes to establish, procedures for the

establishment and enforcement of child support owed to

persons residing in the United Sates by persons residing in

the foreign country and 2) those procedures are

"substantially in conformity" with the standards set forth in

the statute. The statutory standards are:

establishment of child support orders, including the

establishment of paternity if necessary to establish the order

enforcement of child support orders, including collection and

distribution of payments

cost-free services (including administrative and legal

services, as well as paternity testing) to carry out the

establishment and enforcement of child support orders

designation of a central authority to facilitate enforcement

once a country has been declared to be a "reciprocating

foreign country," that country will be treated as if it were

a state of the United Sates for purposes of enforcement of

child support obligations owed to residents of the foreign

country by residents of the U.S. that means that the U.S.

will establish and enforce child support obligations owed to

residents of the foreign country at no cost to those

residents. As a practical matter, the amount of child

support going from the U.S. to foreign reciprocating

countries has been much greater than the amount coming into

the U.S. from those countries.

4. The declaration of reciprocity can take the form of an

international agreement, or a simple declaration. Six

countries (Australia, Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland,

Portugal and the Slovak Republic) and three Canadian

provinces have been declared to be "reciprocating foreign

countries". Reciprocity arrangements are nearly concluded

with several others (Norway, Denmark, The Netherlands,

Hungary, Turkey And Romania).

5. A copy of the U.S. model reciprocity agreement (in

Spanish, French or Portuguese, as appropriate, as well as in

English) and other documents (including the relevant

statutory provisions and a description of the U.S. child

support enforcement system) will be e-mailed to the person

designated in para 7.

6. Post is requested to approach the appropriate host

government officials (probably not foreign ministry

officials) and:

-- provide them with the information in paras 2-4;

-- provide them the documents referenced in para 5;

-- request copies of host country's child support

legislation/regulations;

-- ask for an explanation (preferably in writing) of host

country's child support system, with particular attention

paid to whether that system complies with the elements

required by U.S. statute for a "foreign reciprocating

country"; and

-- ask whether host country is interested in negotiating a

reciprocal child support enforcement arrangement with the U.S.

7. Please cable responses, slugged for Mary Helen Carlson,

L/PIL. . . . Please provide Ms. Carlson with the name and contact

information of an individual at post to whom she can send the

documents mentioned in para 5. L/PIL hopes to schedule

negotiating trips to the Caribbean and Central and South

America in early 2002. We are also considering regional

negotiations (e.g. negotiating with a number of Caribbean or

Central or South American countries at one time in a central

location). Therefore, post is requested to provide at least

an initial response by December 12. Given this time

constraint, if posts make the initial contacts and identify

the appropriate host country officials, L/PIL will be glad to

follow up directly with those officials if that would be more

convenient for posts.

8. Based on host countries' responses, L/PIL will determine

with which countries it would be most worthwhile to begin

negotiation of agreements. We are not asking foreign

countries to agree to the terms of our draft agreement before

we even begin negotiations and a country need not comply 100%

with the U.S. statutory requirements before we can declare

it to be reciprocating. However, if it appears from host

country's response that it is very unlikely that the country

would be able in most cases to establish and enforce U.S.

child support obligations, there would obviously be no point

in sending a negotiating team to that country.

* * * *



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