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111th Congress                                              Exec. Rept.
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                       111-2

======================================================================



 
  HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL RECOVERY OF CHILD SUPPORT AND 
         OTHER FORMS OF FAMILY MAINTENANCE (TREATY DOC. 110-21)

                                _______
                                

                January 22, 2010.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

          Mr. Kerry, from the Committee on Foreign Relations,
                        submitted the following

                                 REPORT

                   [To accompany Treaty Doc. 110-21]

    The Committee on Foreign Relations, to which was referred 
the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child 
Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, adopted at The 
Hague on November 23, 2007 (Treaty Doc. 110-21), having 
considered the same, reports favorably thereon with two 
reservations and three declarations as indicated in the 
resolution of advice and consent, and recommends that the 
Senate give its advice and consent to ratification thereof, as 
set forth in this report and the accompanying resolution of 
advice and consent.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page

  I. Purpose..........................................................1
 II. Background.......................................................2
III. Summary of Convention............................................3
 IV. Entry Into Force.................................................6
  V. Implementing Legislation.........................................6
 VI. Committee Action.................................................7
VII. Committee Recommendations and Comments...........................7
VIII.Text of Resolution of Advice and Consent to Ratification.........9

VIII.Annex I.--Transcript of October 6, 2009 Hearing.................11


                               I. Purpose

    The object of this Convention, as provided for in Article 
1, is to ``ensure the effective international recovery of child 
support and other forms of family maintenance.'' The Convention 
seeks to achieve this purpose by providing rules that will, for 
the first time on a worldwide scale, create uniform, simple, 
and inexpensive procedures for the establishment, recognition, 
and enforcement of child support and family maintenance 
obligations in international cases.

                             II. Background


                    A. DOMESTIC CHILD SUPPORT CASES

    The current U.S. Child Support Enforcement (CSE) System, 
enacted in 1975, is a federal-state program (Title IV-D of the 
Social Security Act), administered by the Office of Child 
Support Enforcement (OCSE) in the Department of Health and 
Human Services (HHS). Its purpose is to help strengthen 
families by securing financial support for children from their 
noncustodial parent on a continuing basis, and by helping some 
families remain self-sufficient and off public assistance. The 
federal CSE program establishes a comprehensive set of 
requirements with which U.S. states must comply as a condition 
for receiving matching federal funds for a state's CSE program. 
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and 
the U.S. Virgin Islands operate CSE programs.
    Under this system, U.S. states are required to enact and 
implement the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act 
(``UIFSA''), which governs jurisdiction to hear interstate 
proceedings aimed at establishing, recognizing, enforcing, or 
modifying a child support order. Under UIFSA's ``one-order 
system,'' only one state's order governs, at any time, an 
obligor's support obligation to any child. All U.S. states have 
implemented some form of this uniform act.

                     B. FOREIGN CHILD SUPPORT CASES

    Both the federal government and individual states have 
entered into arrangements with other nations to facilitate the 
recovery of child support owed to residents of the United 
States. Under section 459A of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C 
Sec. 659A(a), the Secretary of State can declare another nation 
to be a ``foreign reciprocating country'' if it has 
``established, or undertakes to establish, procedures for the 
establishment and enforcement of child support owed to persons 
who are residents in the United States.''\1\ Even if there is 
not a federal-level international agreement or arrangement for 
child support enforcement, there may be arrangements between 
U.S. states and countries that are authorized pursuant to 
UIFSA.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\The United States has declared each of the following to be a 
``foreign reciprocating country:'' Australia, certain Canadian 
provinces and territories, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, 
Hungary, Israel, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, 
the Slovak Republic, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom of Great 
Britain and Northern Ireland.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    There are also existing multilateral child support 
conventions that date back a number of years. However, the 
United States chose not to join those treaties principally 
because they contain jurisdictional provisions that are not 
consistent with U.S. law. As discussed further below, the 
jurisdictional provisions of this Convention have been drafted 
to avoid similar problems.
    The United States actively participated in the negotiation 
of the Convention, which was adopted unanimously by the Hague 
Conference on Private International Law on November 23, 2007. 
These efforts resulted in an instrument that includes many 
procedures that are already the norm in the United States and 
that are largely consistent with existing U.S. law and practice 
in the child support enforcement area.
    A primary benefit of the Convention for the United States 
is reciprocity. While United States courts already enforce 
foreign child support orders in many cases regardless of 
whether the United States has a child support agreement with 
the foreign country at issue, many countries do not do so in 
the absence of a treaty obligation. Accordingly, ratification 
would enable more U.S. children to receive the financial 
support they need from both parents, whether they reside in the 
United States or in a foreign country that is a party to the 
Convention.
    Because HHS and state child enforcement authorities already 
act in a manner consistent with the obligations of the 
Convention, the administration does not anticipate that the 
Convention will impose additional financial or administrative 
burdens on the federal or state governments. The Convention 
will not affect intrastate or interstate child support cases in 
the United States since it applies only to cases where the 
custodial parent and child live in one country and the non-
custodial parent in another.
    The committee received statements of support for U.S. 
accession to the Convention from a broad range of concerned 
stakeholders in the United States, including the child support 
community, state organizations like the Conference of Chief 
Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators, and 
the Uniform Law Commission and American Bar Association.

                       III. Summary of Convention


                          A. MAJOR PROVISIONS

    A detailed article-by-article analysis of the Convention 
may be found in the Letter of Submittal from the Secretary of 
State to the President, which is reprinted in full in Treaty 
Document 110-21. A summary of the key provisions is set forth 
below.

Intended to ensure the effective international recovery of child 
        support payments

    Article 1 indicates that the Convention is intended to 
ensure the effective international recovery of child support 
payments and other forms of family maintenance primarily 
through: (1) establishing a comprehensive system of cooperation 
between the authorities of the States Parties; (2) making 
available applications for the establishment of maintenance 
decisions; (3) providing for the recognition and enforcement of 
maintenance decisions; and (4) requiring effective measures for 
the prompt enforcement of maintenance decisions.

Scope of the Convention

    Article 2 provides that the Convention--including its 
requirements that a country recognize and enforce certain 
foreign child support decisions--covers decisions relating to 
children under the age of 21, regardless of the parents' 
marital status. Article 2(2) allows a State Party to reserve 
the right to limit the Convention's application to individuals 
under the age of 18. The administration does not recommend that 
the United States make a reservation pursuant to Article 2(2) 
because many U.S. states recognize support obligations until 
age 21. Further, U.S. states, including those for which support 
obligations end at 18, will recognize and enforce a decision 
from another state for a child up to 21.

Parties designate a Central Authority to facilitate implementation of 
        the Convention

    The Convention will facilitate the coordination and 
enforcement of international child support cases between States 
Parties through the efforts of Central Authorities. Article 4 
of the Convention provides that each State Party ``shall 
designate a Central Authority to discharge the duties that are 
imposed by the Convention on such an authority.'' The United 
States intends to designate HHS as its Central Authority. 
Article 5 lists the general, non-delegable functions of Central 
Authorities, which HHS cannot delegate to individual U.S. state 
child support agencies. Conversely, Article 6 lists the 
specific functions that Central Authorities must perform, 
although they may designate other ``public bodies'' to perform 
these tasks. HHS would delegate most of the Article 6 
responsibilities to state child support agencies, which 
currently perform most of the day-to-day management of the 
child support caseload in the United States.
    The administration has indicated that the administrative 
cooperation requirements for Central Authorities under the 
Treaty are similar to those required for interstate child 
support agency activities performed under the existing domestic 
child support enforcement system. Accordingly, the 
administration informed the committee that the activities 
related to Central Authorities mandated under the Treaty would 
not measurably increase costs in the short term, and that it 
would not expect significant cost increases within the next 
decade.

Effective access to Convention procedures and free legal assistance for 
        child support applications

    Articles 14-17 address the cost of services, including 
legal assistance. Article 14 establishes the general standard 
for ``effective access to procedures'' under the Convention, 
with a special emphasis on ensuring ``free legal assistance,'' 
unless it is not required because the country has simple 
procedures and provides necessary services free of charge. The 
legal assistance ``shall not be less than those available in 
equivalent domestic cases.'' Article 15(1) specifically 
requires the requested State to provide free legal assistance 
with respect to child support applications made through Central 
Authorities. However, under Article 15(2), States Parties may 
refuse to provide free legal assistance if the application is 
on the merits ``manifestly unfounded.'' Article 16 provides an 
exception to Article 15(1) in that a State may make free legal 
assistance subject to a ``test based on an assessment of the 
means of the child.'' But under Article 16(3), the requested 
State may not look behind the applicant's statement that the 
child meets the means test unless it reasonably believes that 
the statement is inaccurate.
    In the United States, state child support agencies and the 
federal government already provide all services mandated under 
the treaty, including provision of any necessary legal 
assistance in international cases, free of charge, as required 
under section 454(32) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 
Sec. 654(32).

Recognition and enforcement of maintenance decisions

    The Convention requires countries to recognize and enforce 
maintenance decisions from other countries under specified 
circumstances. Article 20(1) provides that a maintenance 
decision made in one State Party ``shall be recognised and 
enforced in other Contracting States'' if the first State's 
jurisdiction was based on one of the grounds enumerated in the 
Article. Under Article 20(2), a State may make a reservation 
with respect to three of the bases of jurisdiction discussed in 
Article 20(1): creditor-based jurisdiction, jurisdiction based 
on written agreement, or jurisdiction based on a matter of 
personal status or parental responsibility. If a State makes 
such a reservation, it shall nevertheless, pursuant to Article 
20(3), ``recognise and enforce a decision if its law would in 
similar factual circumstances confer or would have conferred 
jurisdiction on its authorities to make such a decision.''
    This opportunity to opt out of certain bases of 
jurisdiction allows a State Party to avoid assuming enforcement 
obligations that would be inconsistent with its domestic laws. 
The three bases of jurisdiction noted above, Article 20(1)(c), 
(e), and (f), are not consistent with relevant Supreme Court 
jurisprudence regarding the due process requirements of the 
U.S. Constitution. Accordingly, the committee and the executive 
branch recommend that the United States make a reservation with 
regard to these jurisdictional bases. Under Article 20(4), if a 
State Party cannot recognize a decision because of a 
reservation under Article 20, and the debtor is habitually 
resident in that country, the State Party must, with few 
exceptions, ``take all appropriate measures to establish a 
decision for the benefit of the creditor.''
    Article 22 provides the grounds for refusing recognition 
and enforcement of a maintenance decision. One ground for 
refusing recognition under Article 22 is that such 
``recognition and enforcement of the decision is manifestly 
incompatible with the public policy of the State addressed.'' 
The State Department's submittal letter provides one example of 
a ground on which this public policy exception could be 
invoked: ``a U.S. competent authority could decline to 
recognize and enforce a decision against a left-behind U.S. 
parent in an abduction case where the child had been wrongfully 
taken or retained, on the grounds that recognition and 
enforcement of such a decision would be manifestly incompatible 
with the U.S. public policy of discouraging international 
parental child abduction.'' The procedure for an application 
for recognition and enforcement is outlined in Articles 23-26, 
which aim to provide a streamlined and uniform set of 
procedures for recognition and enforcement.
    The enforcement of maintenance obligations ``shall take 
place in accordance with the law of the State'' being requested 
to recognize the child support order, pursuant to Article 32. 
When a decision has been declared enforceable, it shall proceed 
``without the need for further action by the applicant.'' This 
requirement is a significant benefit given that other states 
often require an additional proceeding before their authorities 
will takes steps to collect the debt owed to the applicant. The 
requested State under Article 33 must provide at least the 
``same range of enforcement methods for cases under the 
Convention as are available in domestic cases.''

Confidentiality and disclosure of information

    Articles 38 through 40 set forth rules concerning the 
protection of personal information, confidentiality, and the 
disclosure of information.

           B. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS

    Articles 48-52 provide a framework for the relationship 
between the Convention and other agreements and arrangements in 
this area. Pursuant to Articles 48 and 49 and subject to 
Article 56(2), as between States Parties, the Convention 
replaces three previous multilateral treaties in so far as 
their scope of application coincides with the scope of 
application of the Convention.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\The treaties replaced by the Convention are the United Nations 
Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance of 20 June 1956, the 
Hague Convention of 2 October 1973 on the Recognition and Enforcement 
of Decisions Relating to Maintenance Obligations, and the Hague 
Convention of 15 April 1958 concerning the recognition and enforcement 
of decisions relating to maintenance obligations towards children. The 
United States is not a party to these treaties.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Article 50 clarifies that the Convention does not affect 
the Hague Convention of 1 March 1954 on civil procedure, the 
Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of 
Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial 
Matters, and the Hague Convention of 18 March 1970 on the 
Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil or Commercial Matters.
    Article 51 specifies that the Convention does not affect 
pre-existing international instruments to which Contracting 
States are Parties and which contain provisions on matters 
governed by the Convention. Similarly, the Convention does not 
preclude the negotiation of new instruments that may overlap in 
scope with the Convention so long as the instruments are 
consistent with the object and purpose of the Convention and do 
not affect application of the Convention with respect to other 
States Parties. Accordingly, the United States may continue to 
apply existing bilateral child enforcement instruments, and the 
United States may conclude additional instruments after joining 
the Convention.
    Finally, under Article 52, application of a bilateral or 
multilateral instrument that provides more effective recovery 
mechanisms than the Convention is permissible under certain 
circumstances.

                          IV. Entry Into Force

    In accordance with Article 60, the Convention will enter 
into force ``on the first day of the month following the 
expiration of three months after the deposit of the second 
instrument of ratification, acceptance, or approval....'' There 
have been no deposits to date. The administration has indicated 
that Canada, Australia, Norway, and all member states of the 
European Community support the Convention and are actively 
considering joining.

                      V. Implementing Legislation

    As noted above, the Convention is largely consistent with 
current U.S. federal and state law and practice in the child 
support enforcement area. As a result, only minimal changes to 
U.S. law would be required to allow for implementation of the 
Convention. The requisite changes would be achieved through 
adoption of an amended version of UIFSA by states and other 
relevant jurisdictions, as well as through conforming 
amendments to Title IV of the Social Security Act.
    In July 2008, the National Conference of Commissioners on 
Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) approved model state implementing 
legislation for the Convention through proposed amendments to 
the UIFSA, referred to as UIFSA 2008. The Bush administration 
submitted a legislative proposal to the 110th Congress to make 
the conforming amendments necessary for full implementation of 
the Convention, but no congressional action was taken on that 
proposal. The Obama administration re-submitted this proposal 
(with minor technical modifications) on October 1, 2009. The 
administration has informed the committee that it does not 
intend to deposit an instrument of ratification before all of 
the U.S. states have adopted UIFSA 2008.

                          VI. Committee Action

    The committee held a public hearing on the Convention on 
October 6, 2009. Testimony was received by Mr. Keith Loken, 
Assistant Legal Adviser for the Office of Private International 
Law at the Department of State; Ms. Vicki Turetsky, 
Commissioner in the Office of Child Support Enforcement at the 
Department of Health and Human Services; The Honorable Battle 
Robinson, Uniform Law Commissioner and Retired Judge in the 
Family Court of Delaware; and Ms. Alisha Griffin, Assistant 
Director of the Office of Child Support Services in the New 
Jersey Department of Human Services. A transcript of this 
hearing is included at Annex I of this report.
    On November 17, 2009, the committee considered the 
Convention, and ordered it favorably reported by voice vote, 
with a quorum present and without objection.

              VII. Committee Recommendations and Comments

    The Committee on Foreign Relations considers the Convention 
to be an important step in efforts to ensure that children in 
the United States receive the financial support they need from 
a parent living abroad. The administration has estimated that 
there are over 15 million child support cases in the United 
States, including 150,000 international cases, and that the 
number of international cases is likely to increase. The 
Convention will serve as a useful tool in resolving these 
international cases: it will not add measurable financial 
burdens to HHS or state governments and will allow parents in 
the United States to benefit from the same streamlined 
procedures that are available to those living abroad and 
seeking to enforce child support decisions in this country. The 
committee believes that joining the Convention is beneficial to 
American children and families and urges the Senate to act 
promptly to give advice and consent to the ratification of the 
Convention, as set forth in this report and the accompanying 
resolution of advice and consent. Consistent with the executive 
branch's stated intention, the Committee expects that the 
executive branch will not deposit an instrument of ratification 
for the Convention until all U.S. states and other relevant 
jurisdictions have adopted the necessary legislation to 
implement the Convention.

                             A. RESOLUTION

    The committee has included in the resolution of advice and 
consent two reservations and three declarations.

Reservations

    The first proposed reservation ensures, pursuant to 
Articles 20 and 62 of the Convention, that the United States 
will not be obligated to recognize and enforce maintenance 
obligation decisions when their jurisdictional bases would 
violate U.S. constitutional due process standards. 
Specifically, the United States would not recognize or enforce 
decisions rendered pursuant to any of the jurisdictional bases 
set forth in subparagraphs 1(c), 1(e), and 1(f) of Article 20.
    The second proposed reservation provides that, pursuant to 
Articles 44 and 62 of the Convention, the United States will 
not be obligated to accept communications in the French 
language from the central authorities of other nations to the 
U.S. Central Authority.

Declarations

    The proposed declaration in Section 3 of the recommended 
resolution of advice and consent, clarifies that, for the 
United States, the Convention would apply only to the U.S. 
jurisdictions participating in Title IV-D of the Social 
Security Act: the fifty U.S. states, the District of Columbia, 
Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Convention 
would therefore not apply to American Samoa, the Northern 
Marianas, or other U.S. territories that do not participate in 
Title IV-D. The declaration would be made pursuant to Articles 
61 and 63 of the Convention and would be included in the 
instrument of ratification.
    Section 4 of the recommended resolution of advice and 
consent includes two proposed declarations. The first proposed 
declaration relates to Article 55 of the Convention, which sets 
out procedures for the amendment of certain forms annexed to 
the Convention. The committee and the executive branch share 
the expectation that amendments to the forms would generally be 
technical and administrative in nature and would not, in the 
normal course, require the advice and consent of the Senate. If 
a proposed or adopted amendment were to go beyond a technical 
and administrative amendment, the administration has committed 
to consult with the committee in a timely manner regarding the 
question of whether advice and consent is warranted. Under such 
circumstances, the executive branch could make appropriate use 
of the ``reservation'' procedure described in Article 55(3) to 
prevent an amendment from entering into force for the United 
States before the conclusion of consultations with the 
committee. The proposed declaration clarifies that the 
executive branch may make such a reservation without the 
approval of the Senate.
    The second proposed declaration in Section 4 states that 
the Convention is not self-executing. In the past, the 
committee generally included such statements in the committee's 
report, but in light of the Supreme Court decision in Medellin 
v. Texas, 128 S. Ct. 1346 (2008), the committee has determined 
that a clear statement in the Resolution is warranted. A 
further discussion of the committee's views on this matter can 
be found in Section VIII of Executive Report 110-12.
    Neither of the proposed declarations in section 4 would be 
included in the instrument of ratification.

     VIII. Text of Resolution of Advice and Consent to Ratification

    Resolved (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring 
therein),

SECTION 1. SENATE ADVICE AND CONSENT SUBJECT TO TWO RESERVATIONS AND 
                    THREE DECLARATIONS

    The Senate advises and consents to the ratification of the 
Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support 
and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the ``Convention''), 
adopted at The Hague on November 23, 2007 (Treaty Doc. 110-21), 
subject to the reservations of section 2, the declaration of 
section 3, and the declarations of section 4.

SECTION 2. RESERVATIONS

    The advice and consent of the Senate under section 1 is 
subject to the following reservations, which shall be included 
in the instrument of ratification:
          (1) In accordance with Articles 20 and 62 of the 
        Convention, the United States of America makes a 
        reservation that it will not recognize or enforce 
        maintenance obligation decisions rendered on the 
        jurisdictional bases set forth in subparagraphs 1(c), 
        1(e), and 1(f) of Article 20 of the Convention.
          (2) In accordance with Articles 44 and 62 of the 
        Convention, the United States of America makes a 
        reservation that it objects to the use of the French 
        language in communications between the Central 
        Authority of any other Contracting State and the 
        Central Authority of the United States of America.

SECTION 3. DECLARATION

    The advice and consent of the Senate under section 1 is 
subject to the following declaration, which shall be included 
in the instrument of ratification:
          The United States of America declares, in accordance 
        with Articles 61 and 63 of the Convention, that for the 
        United States of America the Convention shall extend 
        only to the following: all 50 U.S. states, the District 
        of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin 
        Islands.

SECTION 4. DECLARATIONS

    The advice and consent of the Senate under section 1 is 
subject to the following declarations:
          (1) Article 55 of the Convention sets forth a special 
        procedure for the amendment of the forms annexed to the 
        Convention. In the event that the United States of 
        America does not want a particular amendment to the 
        forms adopted in accordance with Article 55 to enter 
        into force for the United States of America on the 
        first day of the seventh calendar month after the date 
        of its communication by the depositary to all parties, 
        the Executive Branch may by notification in writing to 
        the depositary make a reservation, in accordance with 
        Article 62 of the Convention, with respect to that 
        amendment and without the approval of the Senate.
          (2) This Convention is not self-executing.


  HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL RECOVERY OF CHILD SUPPORT AND 
         OTHER FORMS OF FAMILY MAINTENANCE (TREATY DOC. 110-21)

                              ----------                              


                        Tuesday, October 6, 2009

                                       U.S. Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 
SD-419, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Benjamin L. 
Cardin, presiding.
    Present: Senators Cardin [presiding] and Risch.

         OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, 
                   U.S. SENATOR FROM MARYLAND

    Senator Cardin. Welcome. The Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee will come to order.
    I want to thank Senator Kerry for allowing me to chair this 
hearing. I consider this hearing to be a very important hearing 
as to whether the United States should join the 2007 Hague 
Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and 
Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
    We all know that many children in the United States and 
throughout the world are raised by a single parent. Often these 
parents struggle to make ends meet, to provide for their 
children. And the absence of child support from a noncustodial 
parent makes these challenges much, much greater.
    Thankfully, here in the United States we have a robust 
enforcement framework that helps ensure payment of child 
support obligations. That system and framework is carried out 
through our States and through the role of the Federal 
Government.
    The challenges in ensuring appropriate support for children 
are even greater when the noncustodial parent does not reside 
in the United States. Joining this Convention would help ensure 
that the mere fact of a parent living abroad does not prevent a 
child in the United States from receiving needed support.
    The Convention was adopted by the Hague Conference on 
Private International Law on November 23, 2007, and was signed 
by the United States on the same day. It creates a set of 
uniform procedures for the establishment, recognition, and 
enforcement of child support decisions in international cases, 
and provides a framework for cooperation among the child 
support authorities in contracting States. It also requires 
that each party to the Convention designate a central authority 
to discharge its duties under the Convention. While the 
Department of Health and Human Services would be the central 
authority for the United States, most responsibility under this 
treatment--treaty--would be delegated to State child 
enforcement authorities.
    A primary benefit of joining the Convention, for the United 
States, is reciprocity. Currently, U.S. courts and child 
support agencies often enforce foreign child support requests, 
regardless of whether the United States has a child support 
agreement with that foreign country. We try to do what's right 
in the interests of the child, and we will enforce the orders 
if we believe it's in the best interests of the child. In 
contrast, many countries will not enforce U.S. child support 
decisions absent a treaty obligation. The reciprocal 
obligations created by the Convention provide the fastest and 
most effective way to ensure the child support system works for 
our citizens seeking to support judgments abroad as well as 
those seeking to support judgments in the United States.
    Because the Convention builds upon and embraces existing 
U.S. child support enforcement practices, only minimal changes 
to U.S. law, both Federal and State, would be required before 
the U.S. could join the treaty.
    Further, while joining the Convention will enhance our 
viability to achieve positive results in international child 
support cases, it would not change our child support 
enforcement system in domestic cases. HHS has estimated that 
there are over 15 million child support cases in the United 
States, and a growing number of cases involve a parent who 
lives abroad. In my State of Maryland alone, there were over 
255,000 pending child support cases in fiscal year 2008.
    By providing advice and consent to this Convention, the 
Senate will help ensure that children in the United States 
receive the financial support they need to live healthy, excel 
in school, and pursue the American dream. That is why the 
Convention has widespread support from the child support 
communities, State organizations like the Conference of Chief 
Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators, and 
the Uniform Law Commission and the American Bar Association. 
And that is why I strongly support Senate advice and consent 
for this Convention.
    We are fortunate today to have four witnesses that are very 
knowledgeable about the treaty and child support enforcement 
efforts. On the first panel, we have Keith Loken, assistant 
legal adviser in the Office of Private International Law at the 
State Department, and Vicki Turetsky, Commission of the Office 
of Child Support Enforcement at Health and Human Services.
    On the second panel, we have the Honorable Judge Battle 
Robinson, a former Delaware family court judge, who will 
testify on behalf of the Uniform Law Commission; and Alisha 
Griffin, the director of Child Support Enforcement Activities 
in New Jersey, who will give us an insight on how U.S. 
ratification of the Convention will help state child support 
efforts.
    I would like to welcome each of our guests today. And I 
thank you very much for making yourself available for this 
committee hearing.
    We'll operate with two panels. I've already introduced the 
first panel's two guests. We'll start with, Mr. Loken.

 STATEMENT OF KEITH LOKEN, ASSISTANT LEGAL ADVISOR, OFFICE OF 
  PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW, DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, 
                              D.C.

    Mr. Loken.  Thank you, Senator Cardin.
    I'm honored to testify today in support of the Hague 
Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and 
Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
    The Convention was negotiated over a period of several 
years in the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and 
the views of concerned domestic stakeholders were taken into 
account. The U.S. delegation to the negotiations included, in 
addition to representatives of the State Department and the 
Department of Health and Human Services, several experts in the 
field. Representatives of the National Child Support 
Enforcement Association, the International Bar Association, and 
other groups, participated in the negotiation as observers. In 
addition, throughout the negotiations, a number of public 
meetings were held to obtain views from the private sector and 
state-level officials. As a result, there is broad support for 
the Convention among public officials and private parties who 
are involved in the enforcement of child support orders in the 
United States.
    Why is this Convention needed? In an era of globalization 
and increased international movement of individuals, it is 
increasingly common to find a custodial parent and child in one 
country and the noncustodial parent in another. There are 
currently an estimated 150,000 international child support 
cases in the United States. We've learned that it is difficult, 
if not impossible, to enforce legal obligations abroad, 
relating to child support, without a treaty basis.
    There are existing multilateral child support conventions 
that date back a number of years, the most recent being more 
than 35 years old. But, the United States is not a party to 
them, for various reasons, for example, because the 
jurisdictional provisions are inconsistent with U.S. law, or 
because we consider them ineffective, in that they did not 
require parties to establish new child support orders or to 
provide cost-free services. The new Convention remedies these 
deficiencies.
    Why is this Convention good for the United States? A major 
benefit is reciprocity. Although U.S. courts routinely, on the 
basis of comity or otherwise, recognize and enforce foreign 
child support orders, the same is typically not true of foreign 
courts. Many foreign countries will not process foreign child 
support requests in the absence of a treaty obligation. Under 
this Convention, more U.S. children will be able to obtain the 
financial support they need from a noncustodial parent located 
overseas.
    The United States obtained its key objectives in the 
negotiation of this Convention.
    First, scope: The Convention addresses maintenance 
obligations arising from a parent-child relationship and 
spousal support in a manner that is consistent with existing 
mechanisms under Federal and State law in the United States.
    Second, jurisdiction: Jurisdictional rules in the U.S. 
differ from those in most other countries. The Convention sets 
forth various mandatory bases for assertion of jurisdiction 
over the debtor parent, but permits parties to take a 
reservation with respect to certain bases, including creditor-
based jurisdiction. The executive branch recommends that should 
the U.S. ratify the Convention, it takes such a reservation, as 
this would be consistent with applicable U.S. jurisprudence.
    Third, establishment: The Convention not only addresses the 
recognition and enforcement of foreign child support orders, 
but also the establishment of a new child support decision in 
the requested State, when that proves necessary. This 
obligation to establish a new decision includes an obligation 
to establish paternity, where needed.
    And fourth, costs: We anticipate that a majority of the 
requests under the Convention, will occur via the central 
authority mechanism. Because applicants who rely on government 
child support enforcement mechanisms generally have limited 
financial resources, it was vital to U.S. negotiators that the 
Convention require that assistance in cases processed through 
the central authorities generally be provided free of charge.
    How will this Convention be implemented in the United 
States? The Convention would be implemented through a 
combination of amendments to Part D of Title IV of the Social 
Security Act and adoption by the States of amendments already 
approved by the Uniform Law Commission to the relevant uniform 
state law, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
    It is proposed that HHS would be the central authority 
under the Convention. Since 1975, HHS has operated a Federal 
Parent Locator Service that will facilitate locating 
noncustodial parents and referring foreign cases to the 
appropriate state agency, to provide services. Also, since 
1996, HHS has acted as the central authority, under bilateral 
agreements, in arrangements with other countries on child 
support enforcement. It has the expertise, the established 
administrative processes, and close relations with child 
support enforcement officials in all of the states. The State 
Department and HHS have cooperated effectively for many years 
on international child support matters.
    Finally, will other countries join the Convention? We 
expect so. The member states of the European Community strongly 
support the Convention. The European Commission has tabled, 
with the European Council, a draft proposal to ratify the 
Convention. It is anticipated that all the member states, and 
the EC itself, will join together, perhaps, in 2011. Canada, 
also, is a strong supporter of the Convention, and we 
understand that the Federal Government there is working with 
the provinces and territories on implementation under Canada's 
federal system. We understand that other countries, such as 
Norway and Australia, are actively considering joining.
    The international community is waiting to see what the 
United States does. U.S. ratification would send a strong 
signal to others.
    Thank you, Senator Cardin, for the opportunity to present 
our views on this important treaty. We urge that the committee 
give the Convention prompt and favorable consideration, and I 
would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.
    Thank you.


    [The prepared statement of Mr. Loken follows:]


                   Prepared Statement of Keith Loken

    Senator Cardin and Members of the Committee: I am honored to 
testify today in support of the Hague Convention on the International 
Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance 
(``Child Support Convention''). The Convention was negotiated over a 
period of several years in the Hague Conference on Private 
International Law, the source also of the Hague Child Abduction and 
Child Adoption Conventions to which the United States is a party. The 
views of concerned domestic stakeholders were taken into account. The 
U.S. delegation to the negotiations included, in addition to 
representatives of the State Department and the Department of Health 
and Human Services (HHS), several experts in the field. Representatives 
of the National Child Support Enforcement Association, the 
International Bar Association, and other groups participated in the 
negotiations as observers. In addition, throughout the negotiations, a 
number of public meetings were held to obtain views from the private 
sector and state level officials. As a result, there is broad support 
for the Convention among public officials and private parties who are 
involved in the enforcement of child support orders in the United 
States.
    Why is this Convention needed? In an era of globalization and 
increased international movement of individuals, it is increasingly 
common to find the custodial parent and child in one country and the 
non-custodial parent in another. There are currently an estimated 
150,000 international child support cases in the United States. We have 
learned that it is difficult, if not impossible, to enforce legal 
obligations abroad relating to child support without a treaty basis. 
There are existing multilateral child support conventions that date 
back a number of years (the most recent is more than 35 years old), but 
the United States is not a party to them for various reasons, for 
example, because the jurisdictional provisions were not consistent with 
U.S. law, or because we considered them ineffective in that they did 
not require parties to establish new child support orders or to provide 
cost-free services. The new Convention remedies these deficiencies.
    Why is this Convention good for the United States? A major benefit 
is reciprocity. Although U.S. courts routinely, on the basis of comity 
or otherwise, recognize and enforce foreign child support orders, the 
same is typically not true of foreign courts. Many foreign countries 
will not process foreign child support requests in the absence of a 
treaty obligation. The United States has entered into bilateral 
agreements and arrangements with several countries. These instruments 
will remain in effect. This Convention expands upon the provisions of 
such instruments and includes several procedural improvements that 
should simplify the process of implementing child support decisions 
across borders. Under this Convention, more U.S. children would be able 
to obtain the financial support they need from a non-custodial parent 
located overseas. The United States obtained its key objectives in the 
negotiation of the Convention:


    Scope of the Convention: The Convention addresses maintenance 
        obligations arising from a parent-child relationship and 
        spousal support in a manner that is consistent with existing 
        mechanisms under federal and state law in the United States.

    Jurisdiction: Jurisdictional rules in the United States differ from 
        those in most other countries. The Convention sets forth 
        various mandatory bases for assertion of jurisdiction over the 
        debtor parent, but permits parties to take a reservation with 
        respect to creditor-based jurisdiction, jurisdiction based on a 
        written agreement, or jurisdiction based on a matter of 
        personal status or parental responsibility. The Executive 
        Branchrecommends that, should the United States ratify the 
        Convention, it take such a reservation, as this would be 
        consistent with applicable U.S. jurisprudence.

    Establishment: The Convention not only addresses the recognition 
        and enforcement of foreign child support orders, but also the 
        establishment of a new child support decision in the requested 
        State where that is necessary, for example, where the requested 
        State does not recognize the jurisdictional basis of a child 
        support order issued in the requesting State. This obligation 
        to establish a new decision includes an obligation to establish 
        paternity, where necessary.

    Costs: While the Convention provides a mechanism available to 
        foreign applicants who want to approach directly the relevant 
        court or other authority, we anticipate that a majority of the 
        requests will occur via the Central Authorities. Because 
        applicants who rely on government child support enforcement 
        mechanisms generally have limited financial resources, it was 
        vital to U.S. negotiators that the Convention require that 
        assistance in cases processed through Central Authorities 
        generally be provided free of charge.


    How will this Convention be implemented in the United States? The 
Convention would be implemented through a combination of amendments to 
part D of title IV of the Social Security Act and adoption by the 
states of amendments, already approved by the Uniform Law Commission, 
to the relevant uniform state law, the Uniform Interstate Family 
Support Act (UIFSA). It is proposed that HHS would be the Central 
Authority under the Convention. Since 1975, HHS has operated a Federal 
Parent Locator Service that will facilitate locating non-custodial 
parents and referring foreign cases to the appropriate state agency to 
provide services. Also, since 1996, HHS has acted as the Central 
Authority under bilateral agreements and arrangements with other 
countries on child support enforcement. It has the expertise, 
established administrative processes, and close relations with child 
support enforcement officials in all of the states. The State 
Department and HHS have cooperated effectively for many years on 
international child support matters.
    Will other countries join the Convention? We expect so. The member 
states of the European Community (EC) strongly support the Convention. 
The European Commission has tabled with the European Council a draft 
proposal to ratify the Convention. We understand that the substance of 
the Convention presents a situation of mixed competency for the EC, in 
that the Commission has exclusive competency over some matters covered 
by the Convention, and the member states have competency over others. 
Thus, it is anticipated that all the member states and the EC would 
join together, perhaps in 2011. Canada also is a strong supporter of 
the Convention and we understand that the federal government there is 
working with the provinces and territories on implementation under 
Canada's federal system. We understand that other countries such as 
Norway and Australia are actively considering joining. The 
international community is waiting to see what the United States does; 
U.S. ratification would send a strong signal to others. The first post-
adoption conference of the potential parties, known as a Special 
Commission of the Hague Conference, will be held in November to discuss 
ways to make implementation of the Convention more efficient. We will 
use that opportunity to urge other countries to sign and ratify the 
Convention.
    Thank you, Senator Cardin and Members of the Committee, for the 
opportunity to present our views on this important treaty. We urge that 
the Committee give the Convention prompt and favorable consideration. I 
would be pleased to answer any questions that you may have.


    Senator Cardin. Thank you very much for your testimony.
    Ms. Turetsky?

  STATEMENT OF VICKI TURETSKY, COMMISSIONER, OFFICE OF CHILD 
 SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, 
                        WASHINGTON, D.C.

    Ms. Turetsky. Senator Cardin, thank you for the opportunity 
to testify on the Hague Convention on International Recovery of 
Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. This 
Convention establishes a new and more effective international 
system for ensuring the receipt of child support.
    In 2008, the Child Support Enforcement Program served 15 
million cases, or 17 million children, and collected over $26 
billion in support payments. Ratification of the Convention 
will mean that more children living in the United States will 
receive the financial support they need and deserve from their 
parents, even when one of their parents lives in another 
country.
    The United States actively participated in the development 
of the Convention from the beginning of negotiations in 2003. 
The United States worked to ensure that a treaty would be 
compatible with our system of jurisprudence and patterned 
closely after the best procedures available in the United 
States, as well as other countries with advanced child support 
enforcement procedures. The goal was a convention process that 
was comprehensive, consistent, simple, expedited, essentially 
cost-free, and fair. The final text of the Hague Convention 
creates just such a system.
    We do not anticipate an increase in the costs of the 
program as a result of the Convention, because the United 
States already provides extensive services in international 
cases. And we'll handle such actions using the extensive 
automated data processing systems that already are in place. 
However, we anticipate a significant improvement in the level 
of assistance by other countries when the Convention is fully 
implemented, resulting in more child support paid to custodial 
parents and their children living in the United States.
    The Secretary of Health and Human Services has the 
responsibility, as the United States central authority, to 
facilitate support enforcement in these cases. And we are fully 
prepared and committed to continue providing oversight, 
assistance, and coordination of such activities under the new 
Convention.
    International child support enforcement under the 
Convention will operate in a manner very similar to existing 
interstate processes in the United States. The Convention 
establishes procedures for administrative cooperation which 
will greatly improve the efficiency of processing in coming 
international cases and, we anticipate, also will open many new 
avenues for American citizens seeking enforcement of their 
child support orders abroad.
    Compliance with our obligations under the Convention will 
require minimal changes to existing Federal and State law. Most 
cases under the Convention will be handled in the United States 
according to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, UIFSA, 
which establishes procedures for processing interstate and 
international child support cases, and is enforced in all 
States.
    Proposed implementing legislation recently transmitted to 
the Congress by the Secretary of HHS would ensure all current 
support services are available to cases covered by the 
Convention. States will be required to enact conforming 
legislation as a condition of continued Federal funding of 
their child support programs.
    As head of the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program, I 
believe this Convention fulfills the needs of the United 
States, is widely supported throughout the country by all 
interested groups, and will greatly enhance procedures in 
international cases, to the benefit of all of those American 
citizens seeking support from noncustodial parents residing in 
other Convention countries, as well as foreign citizens seeking 
support from noncustodial parents living here.
    On behalf of the administration, I urge the committee to 
take prompt and favorable action on the Convention.
    I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.


    [The prepared statement of Ms. Turetsky follows:]


                      Statement of Vicki Turetsky

    Senator Cardin, thank you and Chairman Kerry and Senator Lugar, for 
the opportunity to testify on the Hague Convention on the International 
Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
    This Hague Convention establishes a new and more effective 
international system for ensuring the receipt of child support in cases 
where the custodial parent and child live in one country and the non-
custodial parent in another. Ratification of the Convention will mean 
that more children living in the United States will receive the 
financial support they need and deserve from their parents, even when 
one of their parents lives in another country. Currently, the United 
States recognizes certain foreign orders requiring child support. This 
Convention would require other countries that are parties to the Treaty 
to reciprocate.
    The Convention builds upon existing United States law and practice 
to establish uniform, simple, fast, and inexpensive procedures for 
processing international child support cases. The Convention can be 
fully implemented with minimal changes to existing United States law 
and will not impose additional financial or administrative burdens on 
the Federal or state governments.
    The Department of Health and Human Services supports the State 
Department's efforts to secure ratification of this Convention by the 
United States. State child support programs and judges, other United 
States child support interests, the American Bar Association, the 
National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), 
the National Center for State Courts, and the National Child Support 
Enforcement Association (NCSEA) have expressed unequivocal support for 
the Convention.

           BACKGROUND: THE CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM

    In 1975, Congress established a federally-supervised and state-
administered program for the enforcement of family support cases under 
title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The U.S. Department of Health 
and Human Services (HHS) is charged with oversight of the Child Support 
Enforcement program. All states and territories administer a child 
support program, usually located within the state's human services 
agency, revenue department, or Attorney General's office, with the help 
of prosecuting attorneys and the courts. In addition, 36 tribes operate 
comprehensive child support programs. States receive Federal matching 
funds covering approximately two-thirds of the costs of administering 
the child support program. Successful state child support programs also 
receive incentive payments for their performance.
    In 2008, the Child Support Enforcement program served 17 million 
children and collected $26.6 billion in support payments. Services are 
available to all children living apart from one of their parents, 
regardless of family income or residence. Services are provided 
automatically, and free of charge, to families receiving assistance 
under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, and Foster 
Care programs. Other families may apply for services at a nominal 
cost.Extensive Federal and state child support data exchanges allow 
state child support programs to locate parents and assets across state 
lines. Cases in which parents and their children live in different 
states comprise about one-fourth of the child support caseload. In such 
interstate cases, states may either seek the assistance of another 
state in securing parental support or take action directly across state 
lines when jurisdiction to do so exists. For example, a state may 
initiate an income withholding order directed to an employer in another 
state.
    We estimate that, currently, a small percentage (perhaps one 
percent) of state child support enforcement cases are international in 
nature, with the majority of those cases flowing between the United 
States and its neighbors in Canada and Central America, and between the 
United States and those European Union countries with which the United 
States has bi-lateral arrangements to cooperate in enforcing child 
support. However, we anticipate that the percentage of international 
cases received and initiated by the Child Support Enforcement program 
will increase over the next ten years, particularly given the 
increasing emphasis on international child support cooperation.

                     DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONVENTION

    The Convention was unanimously adopted at the Twenty-First 
Diplomatic Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law 
on November 23, 2007. The United States was one of two countries that 
signed it the same day it was adopted. As head of the Federal Child 
Support Enforcement program, I believe that this Convention fulfills 
the needs of the United States, is widely supported throughout the 
country by all interested groups, and will greatly enhance procedures 
in international cases to the benefit of all of those American citizens 
seeking support from non-custodial parents residing in other Convention 
countries as well as foreign citizens seeking support from non-
custodial parents living in the United States.
    The United States actively participated in the development of the 
Convention from the beginning of negotiations in 2003. The U.S. worked 
to ensure that a treaty would be compatible with our system of 
jurisprudence and patterned closely after the best procedures available 
in the United States and other countries with advanced child support 
enforcement procedures. The goal was a Convention process that was 
comprehensive, consistent, simple, expedited, essentially cost-free and 
fair. The final text of the Hague Convention creates just such a 
system.

                        IMPACT OF THE CONVENTION

    Ratification of the Convention will serve the interests of U.S. 
families by providing for international enforcement of support orders 
issued in the United States. More American children will receive the 
financial support they need from both of their parents, even when one 
parent lives in another country. The Convention will not affect 
intrastate or interstate child support cases in the United States. It 
will only apply to cases where the custodial parent and child live in 
one country and the non-custodial parent lives in another.


    The Convention could help a Florida mother who wrote to my office:


          Hello!! My son is 14 years old and my daughter is 9 years 
        old, their father lives in Peru and I never collect child 
        support. Is there anyway that you guys can help me with some 
        information about this issue? Thank you.


    A mother from New Mexico shared:


          I have been trying for almost 4 years to figure out how I can 
        get a Child Support Order enforced in Montreal, Quebec Canada. 
        I understand it is not a reciprocating province and the state, 
        in which I live, New Mexico, does not have an agreement on a 
        state level either. Isn't there some way to get the order 
        enforced? Or some sort of consequence for non payment? He owes 
        me over $20,000 so far.


    It could provide answers to a child support worker trying to help a 
family:


          I have a Georgia Divorce order dated 2004. It was never made 
        payable through a Child Support Office. The non-custodial 
        parent moved to the Philippines. Not working as far as we know. 
        Not supporting the 8 year old child on the order. The 
        Philippines is not one of the UIFSA [Uniform Act] countries. 
        The custodial parent wants to apply for services but is 
        wondering what type of support enforcement could be done?


    Long-standing arrangements permit the Child Support Enforcement 
program to cooperate with a few countries to collect child support 
payments. Current law authorizes the Secretary of State, with the 
concurrence of the Secretary of HHS, to enter into a bi-lateral 
agreement or declare any country a ``foreign reciprocating country,'' 
if it enforces family support obligations in a manner substantially 
similar to the process in the United States. Currently there are 25 
such arrangements in place, including those with 11 Canadian Provinces. 
Despite these arrangements, enforcement procedures vary from country-
to-country and many barriers remain - such as lack of standard forms, 
wide variations in the ability of other countries to establish 
paternity or support orders, limited enforcement remedies, translation 
issues, and problems with currency exchange. In 7addition, many 
countries do not enforce our orders and are unlikely to cooperate in 
the absence of a treaty obligation.
    While the United States will maintain its bi-lateral arrangements 
with these countries, the new Convention will operate in many of our 
on-going cases to greatly streamline operations and serve to provide 
new means of communication and administrative cooperation between 
countries. The Convention provides for cooperation between the child 
support authorities of Contracting States, that is, those countries 
that are party to the Convention. The Convention requires cooperation 
in establishing paternity and support orders, establishes procedures 
for the recognition of child support orders, and requires effective 
measures for prompt enforcement. (Details of the Convention, including 
specific and necessary U.S. reservations and declarations, were 
included in the President's September 2008 transmittal package to the 
Senate.)
    We do not anticipate an increase in costs as a result of the 
Convention because the United States already provides extensive 
services in international cases and will handle such actions using the 
expansive automated processing systems which are in place to handle the 
huge volume of domestic cases. However, we anticipate a significant 
improvement in the level of assistance by other countries when the 
Convention is fully implemented, resulting in more child support paid 
to custodial parents and their children living in the United States 
when the non-custodial parents lives in another country. The Secretary 
of Health and Human Services has the responsibility, as the United 
States Central Authority, to facilitate support enforcement in these 
cases and we are fully prepared and committed to continue providing 
oversight, assistance and coordination of such activities under the new 
Convention.
    International support enforcement under the Convention will operate 
in a manner very similar to existing interstate processes. The 
Convention establishes procedures for administrative cooperation which 
will greatly improve the efficiency of processing incoming 
international cases, and we anticipate it also will open many new 
avenues for American citizens seeking enforcement of their child 
support orders abroad in countries which do not currently have well-
established systems.

              U.S. TREATY OBLIGATIONS UNDER THE CONVENTION

    Compliance with our obligations under the Convention will require 
minimal changes to existing Federal and state law. This is because the 
Convention is largely modeled after our laws and child support 
enforcement system. Most cases under the Convention will be handled in 
the United States in accordance with the Uniform Interstate Family 
Support Act (UIFSA), which establishes procedures for processing 
interstate and international child support cases and is in force in all 
states. In July 2008, the National Conference of Commissioners on 
Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL), working collaboratively with federal and 
state child support experts from around the country, adopted changes to 
UIFSA needed to ensure compliance with the Convention.
    Proposed implementing legislation, recently transmitted by the 
Secretary of HHS to the Congress, would make minimal changes to 
existing law to ensure all current child support enforcement services 
are available to cases covered by the Convention. The legislation would 
mandate that all states enact the 2008 version of UIFSA, and would make 
other technical changes to title IV-D of the Social Security Act, for 
example, to include specific reference to treaty cases. States will be 
required to enact those changes expeditiously as a condition of 
continued Federal funding under title IV-D of the Social Security Act.
    The Convention will not have a major impact on states, as all 
states operate federally-regulated child support programs and routinely 
provide child support services in international cases. In order to 
ensure that the United States is fully able to comply with its 
obligations under the Convention, the U.S. will not deposit the 
instrument of ratification for the Convention until all the necessary 
changes in federal law have been enacted and the UIFSA amendments have 
been adopted by all states.

                               CONCLUSION
 
   On behalf of the Administration, I urge the Committee to take 
prompt and favorable action on the Convention. The Convention 
recognizes that children need the support of two parents, even when one 
of the parents lives in another country.I appreciate the opportunity to 
appear before the Committee in support of this historic and important 
step forward for children and families and would be happy to answer any 
questions you may have.


    Senator Cardin. And thank you for your testimony.
    Let me, if I might, start on the cost issue. You both have 
indicated that you don't anticipate any significant increase in 
cost. Ms. Turetsky, you indicated that you're doing some of the 
services today. So, if a single parent living in the United 
States has a support order that that individual is trying to 
enforce in another country, currently what does that parent do 
as it relates to interacting either with HHS or with the local 
support agency? Are there services currently available that 
they are receiving?
    Ms. Turetsky. Yes, but not consistently. Depending upon the 
country in which the other parent lives, the State may have a 
bilateral agreement with that country. But, our inquiries to 
our office from custodial parents living in the States suggests 
that those procedures are unpredictable. Parents are uncertain 
about whether procedures are available under bilateral 
agreements or not, in how to go about pursuing child support. 
And States, too, have a lot of questions. So, the Convention 
will help us standardize and provide a set of administrative 
procedures that all States can use with any of the countries 
that ratify the Convention.
    Senator Cardin. As I indicated in my introductory remarks, 
I support the ratification of the Convention. I believe it will 
significantly improve child support collections in the United 
States and where orders are attempted to be enforced outside of 
the United States. But, it seems to me that, with a more 
efficient system and with your agency's clear responsibility to 
help single parents in the United States, this is bound to 
increase the workload in your agency.
    Ms. Turetsky. Well, because we already work on supporting 
States in international cases where we do have a bilateral 
agreement, our workload burden, so to speak, is already built 
in. In addition, we provide services, through the States, to 
cases coming into the United States. Where we have--where we 
struggle, is when we don't have a bilateral agreement, when the 
custodial parent lives in our country and is seeking to enforce 
abroad.
    Senator Cardin. I just want to make sure we're realistic as 
to what you're going to need. I also assume that some of this 
currently is being done at the State level with a clear 
international path for enforcing child support orders, working 
through HHS as the principal agency in the United States. I 
think it also is going to probably increase the amount of 
volume in your office.
    Ms. Turetsky. You know, this is a situation where we expect 
the number of cases to be a small part of our caseload for the 
foreseeable future. We expect it to grow over time, but we're 
starting with about 1 percent of our cases. We have the 
structure already in place to process international cases. 
States do the primary enforcement of cases, and they are 
already set up to enforce both interstate and international 
cases.
    Senator Cardin. And, Mr. Loken, how does this operate 
through the State Department? What role do you all play if this 
treaty is ratified?
    Mr. Loken.  Senator, I would answer that in a couple of 
ways. First, as I mentioned, the State Department has a long 
history of cooperation with HHS in the matter of--in child 
support enforcement, internationally, and we would continue 
that. In terms of the Hague Conference itself, the practice 
there is to periodically convene meetings in The Hague of 
potential parties or parties to the Convention, to discuss its 
implementation and investigate ways to improve the operation of 
the Convention. And we would expect to be participating 
actively in those kinds of meetings.
    Senator Cardin. I believe you indicated that, to be in 
compliance with this obligation, we would have to amend Part D, 
Title IV, of the Social Security Act and that some States would 
have to comply with what they've already indicated they will, 
the uniform statutes.
    What is the status here? Have there been bills prepared? 
Are States moving to conform? How much more work would there 
need to be done if this Convention is ratified?
    Ms. Turetsky. In terms of the legislation, the legislation 
has been conveyed to the authorizing committees. It was 
conveyed both in the prior administration and, most recently, 
in our administration. It will require minimal changes to 
existing child support law, including a requirement that States 
pass an updated version of UIFSA. So, all States have UIFSA 
laws in place; this would require them to amend those laws, as 
they periodically do, to accommodate international enforcement.
    Senator Cardin. Is it fair to say that what the States need 
to do is more a technical update than substantive change?
    Ms. Turetsky. That's right.
    Senator Cardin. And the Federal requirements to have our 
laws comply with the technical aspects of international child 
support, as a practical matter, we're enforcing these orders 
today?
    Ms. Turetsky. Well, the law would be amended in a couple of 
significant ways. First--not significant in the sense of IV-D, 
but distinguished ways. First, the Federal law that we're 
proposing to the Congress would contain a IV-D requirement that 
States pass the UIFSA 2008 version. But, secondly, it would 
require my secretary, the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services, to use all Federal and State enforcement mechanisms 
to comply with the treaty and to cut off funding to States if 
States were not in compliance.
    Senator Cardin. The funding you're talking about is child 
support?
    Ms. Turetsky. I'm sorry?
    Senator Cardin. What type of funding would be cut off?
    Ms. Turetsky. The child support funding is a 66-percent 
matching fund.
    Senator Cardin. Right. That's the number that you're using 
for the States to comply with the Convention.
    Ms. Turetsky. Right, the regular funding. And that's 
about----
    Senator Cardin. If this were ratified by the United States 
Senate this year, is there a time requirement for the States to 
comply their laws?
    Ms. Turetsky. I'm going to have to ask for technical 
assistance on that.
    Senator Cardin. Because, you know, many legislatures don't 
meet every year, or they don't have----
    Ms. Turetsky. Yes. Two years.
    Senator Cardin. Two years.
    Ms. Turetsky. Two-year period.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you. I appreciate that.
    The reservation that you talked about, Mr. Loken, on 
jurisdiction?
    Mr. Loken.  Yes, sir.
    Senator Cardin. I want to make sure that we are comfortable 
with the legal status here. If I understood your testimony, you 
were talking about debtor statute jurisdiction.
    Mr. Loken.  Right.
    Senator Cardin. Is the concern that, without that 
reservation, we might be subjecting U.S. citizens to the 
jurisdiction of other courts, broader than just child support 
enforcement, which would be inconsistent with our position, as 
it relates to U.S. citizens?
    Mr. Loken.  Yes, Senator, the issue that we faced in this 
negotiation was that many other countries recognize 
jurisdiction in child support enforcement matters based upon 
the residence of the creditor parent, the parent that is 
seeking to obtain the child support. But, to satisfy U.S. 
constitutional due process requirements, there must be 
sufficient contacts between the debtor parent and the forum, 
under our law.
    The leading case on this that has to do with child support 
enforcement is Kulko v. Superior Court, a Supreme Court case 
from 1978.
    Article 20 from the Convention sets forth six different 
bases of jurisdiction for the recognition and enforcement of 
maintenance decisions. Three of those bases do not comport with 
our due process requirements; notably, jurisdiction based upon 
the residence of the creditor alone. The reservation proposed 
by the executive branch would cover all three of these bases of 
jurisdiction which are not consistent with our law. The 
remaining bases of jurisdiction under article 20 are consistent 
with U.S. law.
    Senator Cardin. And you're satisfied, then, that we're 
protecting the constitutional issue here?
    Mr. Loken.  We are. Yes.
    Senator Cardin. Senator Risch?
    Senator Risch. Excuse me if you've been asked this earlier. 
How many parties to the Convention have ratified, so far? How 
many parties to the Convention have ratified, so far?
    Mr. Loken.  None have, to date, sir. No. The Convention was 
just concluded recently. And, in fact, the U.S. is in the 
forefront, here, of efforts to move towards ratification.
    Senator Risch. And what--how many potential countries are 
there involved in ratification, eventually.
    Mr. Loken.  Well, we would hope, quite a number. The Hague 
Conference in which the negotiation took place, I believe, 
consisted of 60 or 70 members. Many of those were actively 
involved in the negotiation. We know that the European 
Community and its member states and Canada, among others, are 
actively pursuing ratification. Several other countries, that 
we're aware of, are also quite interested in moving towards 
joining the Convention. We really think that, in this case, 
what the U.S. does will be quite persuasive, in terms of the 
reaction of other states to joining the Convention, and we hope 
that, in the next several years, that we will find a number of 
countries joining it.
    Senator Risch. How many bilateral agreements do we have 
right now?
    Ms. Turetsky. We have about 15.
    Senator Risch. And is it impossible to enforce one of these 
orders if you don't have a bilateral agreement?
    Ms. Turetsky. It's very difficult, yes.
    Senator Risch. Thank you.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you.
    You didn't mention Mexico. Can you tell us the level of 
interest in Mexico?
    Mr. Loken.  Well, I can tell you that Mexico did 
participate actively in the negotiations, and was supportive of 
the Convention as adopted. I do not have current information 
about domestic activity within the--within Mexico to pursue 
ratification.
    Senator Cardin. I'm going to ask that you try to supplement 
that to this committee, give us the best information you have, 
as to Mexico. I think we are particularly interested in Mexico 
and Canada, and would want to know the interest level in 
Canada.


    [The information referred to above follows:]


    Mr. Loken.  With regard to Canada: The Secretary of State, with the 
concurrence of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, may declare 
any country (or political subdivision thereof) to be a foreign 
reciprocating country if the foreign country (or political subdivision 
thereof) has established, or undertakes to establish, adequate 
procedures for the establishment and enforcement of duties of support 
owed to residents of the United States. To date, Alberta, British 
Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Northwest Territories, 
Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Yukon have been 
declared to be ``foreign reciprocating countries'' for this purpose.
    There is an excellent, long-standing history of cooperation in 
child support enforcement matters between the United States and the 
provinces and territories, as well as the federal government, of 
Canada.
    Canada is a strong supporter of the Convention. We understand that 
the Coordinating Committee of Senior Officials--Family Justice, a 
committee comprised of officials from the federal, provincial and 
territorial governments, has established a working group to consider 
the implementation of the Convention within Canada. The working group 
is open to officials from the federal, provincial and territorial 
governments.
    With regard to Mexico: The United States has had less success with 
Mexico. Mexico has not been declared to be a foreign reciprocating 
country. Although courts and other authorities in the United States 
have recognized and enforced child support orders from Mexico as a 
matter of comity, there has been little or no reciprocity. It is our 
hope that that this situation would improve if the United States and 
Mexico become parties to the Convention.
    Mexico participated actively in the negotiation of the Convention 
and supported its adoption. So far as we know, the Government of Mexico 
has not taken steps to become a party to the Convention. Ratification 
of the Convention by the United States, however, would put the United 
States in a stronger position to encourage Mexico to take such action.
    We understand that the Government of Mexico, like the Government of 
Canada, intends to participate in the Special Commission of the Hague 
Conference in November on the implementation of the Convention, and we 
will consult with Mexico there on its plans for ratification of the 
Convention.


    Senator Cardin. Let me just go through the logistics, here, 
just to make sure I understand what is likely to happen if the 
Convention gets ratified by a significant number of countries.
    Currently, if the appropriate order is presented to a U.S. 
court to enforce child support by a non-U.S. resident against a 
U.S. resident, what will be done by a typical State court?
    Ms. Turetsky. Typically, that order would be enforced if 
the noncustodial parent is in the United States.
    Senator Cardin. So, the custodial parent would get legal 
assistance here in some form--private attorney--and present the 
court order and the appropriate certifications to the U.S. 
court in a State, and that State would most likely enforce the 
order, unless there was a legitimate contest to its legitimacy?
    Ms. Turetsky. Yes.
    Senator Cardin. And if you are a U.S. citizen and have 
custody of a child and a valid U.S. child support order, and 
the other parent is not in the United States, and you attempt 
to enforce it, what is the likelihood of enforcement today, 
without the Convention? And, if you could, be somewhat specific 
in identifying countries. Some countries we have good 
relationship with. Obviously, the closer of interest are Canada 
and Mexico, but also there's significant interest in Europe.
    Ms. Turetsky. Right. Well, we have bilateral agreements in 
place with a set of countries, and I can list those for you, 
Senator: Australia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, 
Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, 
Portugal, Slovak Republic, Switzerland, and the U.K., as well 
as Canadian provinces.
    Senator Cardin. We don't with Mexico?
    Ms. Turetsky. We do not with Mexico.
    Senator Cardin. And we do not with African countries?
    Ms. Turetsky. We don't have any bilateral agreements with 
African countries.
    Senator Cardin. You mentioned some in the Middle East; are 
there any in Asia?
    Ms. Turetsky. No, we don't have a current bilateral 
agreement with Asian countries.
    Senator Cardin. Okay. Does the likelihood of ease and 
success of enforcement depend upon a bilateral agreement?
    Ms. Turetsky. Well, the--yes. I mean, I think it's very 
difficult to enforce a--for a parent living here, to enforce a 
child support case, when there's no bilateral agreement and no 
mechanism to enforce, internationally.
    Senator Cardin. How will this Convention affect the 15 
countries we have bilateral agreements with? Will it be 
comparable, harder, or easier to deal with these countries?
    Ms. Turetsky. It will be easier, because the Convention 
would set up a--an administrative structure and a streamlined 
structure that would resolve jurisdictional barriers and create 
a system that is modeled after the United States so that 
parents will know that, when they seek assistance, that the 
support order will be enforced in a--in an efficient way, and 
one--and a way in which that they're accustomed to in the 
United States.
    Senator Cardin. I have one last question for either or both 
of you, and that is: How much is this needed in the United 
States? Do you have any documentation as to the level of child 
support that goes uncollected and may very well be collected if 
the Convention is widely ratified? Or is this just your gut? I 
mean, do we have any documentation of what may be involved, 
here?
    Ms. Turetsky. Senator, we don't have a hard projection of 
dollars. We estimate about 1 percent of our caseload is 
international, in the sense that one parent lives in a 
different country. What we do have is anecdotal information 
from parents who have written to us, who say, you know, ``I'm 
living here. I have a support order. My--the parent of my child 
lives in another country. I don't know what to do. I understand 
there's no agreement with that country. What can I do?'' And 
so, we know that there are a number of families that are going 
to be affected by a fully ratified treaty. We don't know how 
that caseload will grow over time.
    But, we're--you know, we're sensible of the fact that 
we're, you know, an increasingly global world, and that parents 
do move around. And in our caseload, where parents are living 
apart, the likelihood of one parent living in one country and 
another parent living in our country is likely to grow over 
time. So, we're really planning for the future, here.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you.
    Senator Risch, anything further?
    Senator Risch. No, thank you.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you both very much for your 
testimony.
    I will be mentioning, at the end of this hearing, that the 
record will remain open for 2 days, so there may be some 
additional questions asked by members of the committee.
    But, thank you very much for your work on this. Good work.
    Ms. Turetsky. Thank you, Senator.
    Mr. Loken.  Thank you.
    Senator Cardin. Our second panel consists of Judge Battle 
Robinson from the Uniform Law Commission, and Alisha Griffin, 
from the New Jersey Department of Human Services. [Pause.]
    Senator Cardin. Judge Robinson, we'll be glad to hear from 
you.
    I should point out that all of the witnesses' full 
testimonies will be included in our record, without objection.
    And you may proceed as you see fit.

 STATEMENT OF HON. BATTLE ROBINSON, UNIFORM LAW COMMISSIONER, 
  JUDGE, FAMILY COURT OF DELAWARE (RET.), GEORGETOWN, DELAWARE

    Ms. Robinson. Thank you, Senator Cardin, and good 
afternoon, to you and to the members of the committee.
    I'm appearing today on behalf of the National Conference of 
Commissioners on Uniform States Laws, also known as the Uniform 
Law Commission. The Commission is a national organization of 
lawyers, judges, and legal scholars. Its purpose is to provide 
the States with nonpartisan, well-drafted legislation in areas 
of the law where uniformity is desirable. Some of its more 
notable achievements include the Uniform Commercial Code, the 
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and the 
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, which I will be speaking 
about today.
    The purpose of my testimony is twofold: first, to convey 
the support of the Commission for the Hague Convention on the 
International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
Family Maintenance, and to urge its ratification; and second, 
to support and explain the method of implementation of the 
Convention which is being proposed.
    The past century has witnessed the growth of family support 
enforcement from criminal proceedings to civil ones, from 
modest county-based programs to the creation of a nationwide 
Federal-State partnership under the Title IV-D Program, to the 
development of legal rules and procedures that facilitate the 
establishment and enforcement of support orders when parties 
live in different States.
    In an age of globalization, the international expansion of 
consistent rules for enforcement of child support seems a 
natural development. Further, the Convention will provide a 
much-needed mechanism whereby support orders of tribunals of 
the United States will be recognized and enforced in other 
countries. Although tribunals in the United States, as a 
general matter, already recognize and enforce the orders of 
foreign tribunals, the reverse is often not the case. The 
Commission believes that the effect of other nations acceding 
to obligations imposed by the Convention, the development of 
standard administrative protocols and forms, and the adoption 
of clear rules pertaining to the recognition and enforcement of 
support orders will assure acceptance of this country's orders 
in foreign lands. For these reasons, the Commission urges 
approval of the Convention by the Senate.
    The Commission also supports the implementation of the 
Convention through a method of cooperation between the Federal 
and State governments. This method will implement important 
segments of the Convention through a uniform State law, rather 
than by Federal legislation. Specifically, implementation will 
come about through changes in the existing Uniform Interstate 
Family Support Act, known as UIFSA. UIFSA serves as the basis 
for interstate establishment and enforcement of support 
obligations within the United States, and it's already the law 
in all States. It is used daily in the thousands of interstate 
cases which are processed through the child support system in 
the country, and is familiar to attorneys, court personnel, and 
support caseworkers in all States.
    Beginning in 2007, a drafting committee of the Uniform Law 
Commission worked to develop amendments to UIFSA which are 
designed to implement the Convention. The amended version of 
UIFSA was approved by the full Commission in July 2008 and is 
ready to be introduced in, and approved by, States' 
legislatures. It will be known as UIFSA 2008. Indeed, Maine, 
Nevada, and North Dakota have already passed the amendments, 
which take effect when the Convention is ratified and the 
United States instrument of ratification is deposited at The 
Hague.
    Briefly, UIFSA 2008 is concerned primarily with the 
recognition and enforcement of support orders under the 
Convention. The familiar provisions of UIFSA applicable to 
domestic support orders remain largely unchanged. A new Article 
7 is the heart of the effort to integrate the Convention into 
State law. That Article contains the special rules which 
pertain to cases brought under the Convention.
    The Commission recognizes that attempting to implement the 
Convention by asking 50 separate jurisdictions to enact timely 
and substantially similar legislation poses substantial 
practical difficulties. Thus, in order to assure the widespread 
enactment of UIFSA 2008, it is necessary for the Congress to 
assist in the process of obtaining these enactments. In the 
case of this particular treaty, the extensive Federal funding 
of the child support program provides an ideal vehicle for that 
Federal assistance.
    The Department of Health and Human Services has recently 
submitted to the Congress Federal implementing legislation that 
requires that all States, as a prerequisite to continued 
receipt of Federal child support funds, adopt UIFSA 2008 by a 
date certain. Such a requirement is not new in the area of 
child support. In the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, Congress made 
the enactment of UIFSA a condition of State eligibility for the 
Federal subsidy. A similar mandate by the Congress in its 
legislation pertaining to the Maintenance Convention would 
virtually assure that UIFSA 2008 will be adopted by all States 
in an expeditious and uniform fashion.
    Finally, I want to emphasize the cooperative relationship 
between the Federal officials and the Uniform Law Commission in 
the development of the Convention and its implementing 
legislation. The experience has suggested an interesting course 
for the future. With the expansion of global relationships, 
there will surely be other instances where integrating 
international legal developments into familiar State law may be 
appropriate. I believe adoption by the Congress of the 
proposal, whereby implementation of the Maintenance Convention 
will come about through adoption of a uniform state law, will 
provide an important precedent and a guide for future actions, 
and I commend it to you.
    Thank you.


    [The prepared statement of Ms. Robinson follows:]


                Prepared Statement of Battle R. Robinson

    Senator Cardin, Ranking Member Lugar, and members of the Committee, 
good morning.
    My name is Battle Robinson and I am a retired Family Court Judge of 
the State of Delaware, having served 14 years in that capacity. Since 
1980, I have been a Delaware Commissioner of the National Conference of 
Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, also known as the Uniform Law 
Commission, and it is on behalf of that organization that I am 
appearing today.
    The Uniform Law Commission is a national organization of lawyers, 
judges, and legal scholars that has existed since 1892. Its purpose is 
to provide the states with non-partisan, well-drafted legislation and 
to work for the enactment of that legislation. The Commission's efforts 
support the federal system, facilitating both the movement of 
individuals and the functioning of business organizations across state 
lines through the enactment of statutes that are uniform throughout the 
nation. During its history the Commission developed such notable state 
legislation as the Uniform Commercial Code, and has been a leader in 
drafting important uniform state legislation which involves children's 
issues, including the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and 
Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) and the Act which brings us to this hearing 
today--Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). I chaired the 
Uniform Law Commission's committees that revised UIFSA in 1996 and 
2001. I then attended the sessions at the Hague at which the Family 
Maintenance Convention was developed, and I chaired the ULC Drafting 
Committee that revised UIFSA during 2007-08 in order to implement the 
Convention.
    The purpose of my testimony is two-fold: first to convey the 
support of the Commission for the Hague Convention on the International 
Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance and to 
urge its ratification; and second to support and explain the method of 
implementation of the Convention which is being proposed.
    The past century has witnessed the growth of family support 
enforcement from criminal proceedings to civil, from modest county-
based programs to the establishment of the federal IV-D program in the 
1970s, which created a federal-state partnership concerning child 
support, and the development of legal rules and procedures for the 
establishment and enforcement of support orders across state lines. In 
the Family Support Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-485), Congress 
established the U.S. Commission on Interstate Child Support (Interstate 
Commission). The purpose of the Interstate Commission, of which I was a 
member, was to identify ways to improve the efficiency and 
effectiveness of interstate child support enforcement. After a number 
of hearings across the country, the Interstate Commission submitted a 
report to Congress in 1992 with recommendations for improving 
interstate establishment and enforcement of child support, and for 
revising an existing uniform act dealing with child support--the 
Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA). The drafting of 
this revision was spearheaded by the Uniform Law Commission, and this 
revision became UIFSA, the first version of which was adopted by the 
Uniform Law Commission in 1992.
    UIFSA serves as the basis for interstate establishment and 
enforcement of support obligations within the United States and has 
been enacted in all States, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin 
Islands, and Puerto Rico. UIFSA provides universal and uniform rules 
for the enforcement of family support orders, sets basic jurisdictional 
standards for state courts by determining the basis for a state to 
exercise continuing exclusive jurisdiction over a child support 
proceeding, establishes rules for determining which state issues the 
controlling order in the event proceedings are initiated in multiple 
jurisdictions, and provides rules for modifying or refusing to modify 
another state's child support order.
    In an age of globalization, the international expansion of 
consistent rules for enforcement of child support, such as those 
provided under UIFSA, seems a natural development and one which the 
Uniform Law Commission believes will be advantageous to the United 
States. The Hague Convention will provide a mechanism whereby support 
orders of tribunals of the United States will be recognized and 
enforced in other countries. Although tribunals in the United States, 
as a general matter, already recognize and enforce the orders of 
foreign tribunals, the reverse is often not the case. In at least some 
instances this is due to limitations in foreign laws. The Commission 
believes that the effect of other nations acceding to the obligations 
imposed by the Convention, the development of standard administrative 
protocols and forms, and the adoption of clear rules pertaining to the 
recognition and enforcement of support orders, will assure acceptance 
of this country's orders in other lands. No longer will persons in the 
United States have to re-litigate support matters in a distant country 
or forego support altogether. For these reasons, the Uniform Law 
Commission believes the Convention will facilitate the international 
enforcement of child support and urges its approval by the Senate.
    The Commission also supports the implementation of the Convention 
through a method of cooperation between the federal and state 
governments. This method, supported in this instance by the U.S. 
Departments of State and Health and Human Services, will implement 
important segments of the Convention--namely those dealing with the 
recognition and enforcement of foreign orders--through a uniform state 
law, rather than by federal legislation. Specifically, implementation 
will come about through changes to the existing Uniform Interstate 
Family Support Act. That Act is used daily in the thousands of 
interstate cases which are processed through the child support system 
in this country and is familiar to, attorneys, court personnel and 
support case workers in all states. Beginning in 2007 a drafting 
committee of the Commission, which I chaired, worked to develop 
amendments to UIFSA designed implement the Convention. The committee 
worked closely with representatives of the federal government--both HHS 
and State--and child support organizations to draft uniform state 
legislation that facilitates accession to the treaty without imposing 
burdensome changes to existing state practices. The amended version of 
UIFSA, known as ``UIFSA 2008,'' was approved by the full Commission in 
July 2008 and is ready to be introduced and approved by state 
legislatures. Recognizing the importance of the changes for 
international child support orders, Maine, Nevada, and North Dakota 
have already passed the amendments, which take effect when the 
Convention is ratified and the United States' instrument of 
ratification is deposited at The Hague.
    When the Commission undertook this project, the drafting committee 
considered a number of possible means of implementation and concluded 
that there were many advantages to implementing this particular 
Convention by a combination of uniform state law and federal 
legislation. First, family support has always been primarily the domain 
of state law, albeit in recent years with very significant financial 
contribution and regulatory guidance from the federal government. 
Second, UIFSA, and the laws that preceded it, have been the basis for 
the establishment, enforcement, and modification of support orders 
across state lines for almost sixty years. Because UIFSA is in force in 
all states, and thanks to the frequency of its use and the extensive 
training offered under the auspices of OCSE and national child support 
enforcement organizations, there is a well trained cadre of judges, 
lawyers, and child support workers who are familiar with the Act. 
Incorporating foreign orders into a similar statutory framework is the 
best approach for all parties. The Commission was well positioned to 
execute this consensus approach to the Convention because of its 
experience with the subject matter and its mission of fostering 
uniformity in state law.
    UIFSA 2008 can be described very briefly as follows:


    the legislation is addressed to the recognition and enforcement of 
        court orders;

    it does not deal with the provisions in the treaty which are deemed 
        fundamentally administrative and which are left to the child 
        support agencies, such as designing forms and transmitting 
        information between support agencies;

    except for a very few instances where amendments were necessitated, 
        the familiar provisions of UIFSA applicable to domestic support 
        orders remain unchanged.


    UIFSA 2008 features a new Article that integrates the Convention 
into state law. Article 7 addresses the greatest obstacle to 
recognition and enforcement of foreign orders by American tribunals: 
the divergent jurisdictional bases for support orders in the United 
States and in virtually all other countries. In the United States there 
must be some personal connection between the support obligor and the 
state tribunal that issues the order. In contrast, other counties 
follow what is known as ``child based'' jurisdiction under which a 
tribunal in the country where the child lives may issue a support order 
even though the obligor has had no contact whatsoever with the country. 
Accordingly, there may be instances where American courts cannot 
recognize a foreign order because there would be no jurisdiction under 
American law. In that situation, UIFSA 2008 directs an American 
tribunal to determine if there is any other basis, consistent with 
American law, under which the foreign tribunal could have exercised 
jurisdiction. If so, the U.S. court may proceed to recognize and 
enforce the foreign tribunal's order. If not, the U.S. court must 
provide opportunity for a new support action to be filed.
    Because of the participation of the United States delegation in the 
negotiations leading to the Convention, the Convention adopts many 
procedures that are already part of American law. Thus, the new Article 
7 will be readily recognized by American bench and bar, and by the 
state IV-D agencies that constitute the heart of child support 
enforcement in this country. For instance, the Convention basically 
adopts the procedure used in interstate cases in the United States 
whereby support orders from other countries are registered in an 
appropriate tribunal and enforced by that tribunal, subject, of course, 
to the respondent's opportunity to challenge the order. Consistent with 
the Convention, Article 7 provides only limited grounds on which a 
tribunal may deny recognition and enforcement of a Convention support 
order. The Article also provides, as does the Convention, that 
international child support proceedings may be conducted by private 
attorneys, as well as by support agencies.
    The Commission recognizes that attempting to implement the 
Convention by asking fifty separate jurisdictions to enact timely and 
substantially similar legislation poses substantial practical 
difficulties. Thus, in order to ensure the widespread enactment of 
UIFSA 2008 that will be necessary in order to implement the Convention 
effectively in the United States, and to permit the United States to 
ratify the Convention, it is necessary for Congress to assist the 
process of obtaining enactment of UIFSA 2008 by the States, thereby 
allowing the timely deposit of the instrument of ratification with the 
Hague.
    In the case of this particular treaty, the extensive federal 
funding of the child support program provides an ideal vehicle for that 
federal assistance. The Department of Health and Human Services has 
recently submitted to the Congress federal implementing legislation--
the ``Multilateral Child Support Convention Implementation Act of 
2009''--that both provides guidance concerning the administrative 
aspects of implementing the Convention and requires that all states, as 
a prerequisite to continued receipt of federal child support funds, 
adopt the UIFSA 2008 amendments by a date certain.
    Such a requirement is not new in the area of child support. The 
1996 Welfare Reform Act, also known as PRWORA, made major changes to 
welfare programs. In that Act Congress made the enactment of UIFSA a 
condition of state eligibility for the federal subsidy for child 
support enforcement. The federal mandate required ``each State to have 
in effect the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, as approved by the 
American Bar Association on February 9, 1993, together with any 
amendments officially adopted before January 1, 1998 by the NCCUSL.'' 
28 U.S.C 666(f) In conformity with this mandate, all states had adopted 
UIFSA by 1998. A similar mandate by the Congress in its legislation 
pertaining to the Maintenance Convention would virtually assure that 
UIFSA 2008 would be adopted by all states in an expeditious and uniform 
fashion.
    Finally, I want to emphasize the cooperative relationship between 
the federal officials and the Uniform Law Commission in the development 
of the Convention and its implementing legislation. The experience has 
suggested an interesting course for the future. With the expansion of 
global relationships, there will surely be other instances where 
integrating international legal developments into familiar state law 
may be appropriate. I believe adoption by the Congress of the proposal 
whereby implementation of the Convention on the International Recovery 
of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance will come about 
through adoption of a uniform state law will provide an important 
precedent and guide for future actions, and I commend it to you.
    In closing, the Uniform Law Commission urges that the Senate give 
its advice and consent to the Hague Maintenance Convention, and the ULC 
also supports the implementation of that Convention by the combination 
of state and federal legislation that I and others testifying before 
the Committee describe today.
    Thank you.


    Senator Cardin. Thank you very much for your testimony.
    Ms. Griffin?

  STATEMENT OF ALISHA GRIFFIN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF 
    CHILD SUPPORT SERVICES, NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN 
                 SERVICES, TRENTON, NEW JERSEY

    Ms. Griffin. Thank you. Good afternoon, Senator Cardin and 
Senator Risch.
    I appreciate the opportunity to come before you and speak 
regarding the importance of approving the Hague Convention on 
the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
Family Maintenance.
    As a child support director in the--for the State of New 
Jersey, I've been in that position for 12 years and have had 
the privilege, during the last 7, of working side by side, 
along with my colleagues, here, from the Office of Child 
Support Enforcement and HHS, the State Department, and other 
child support and family law experts in this country, as well 
as in those 67 other countries and nongovernmental 
organizations, to develop this treaty that provides a 
significant new framework for the international establishment 
of enforcement and child support orders. I appear before you to 
urge the adoption and your approval of United States 
participation in this Convention.
    Child support is a critical family service program, one 
that research has shown lifts families out of poverty. The 
child support program, since welfare reform, has made 
substantial improvement in our performance. Today, we collect, 
nationally and in New Jersey, over 65 percent of all the child 
support due children. Unfortunately, that still means that 
there's about 35 percent that don't receive all they deserve 
and need to get by.
    The child support community has been committed to doing 
better to improve their performance and to make child support a 
more reliable source of income. This treaty will assist us in 
that quest.
    In 1996, along with the child--the welfare reform 
legislation, Congress passed, as you've heard, the Uniform 
Interstate Family Support Act, UIFSA, which paved the way for 
significant improvement of cooperation and enforcement across 
all U.S. States and territories. Like UIFSA, the Hague 
Convention contained procedures for processing cases that will 
be uniform, simple, efficient, accessible, and inexpensive for 
us to implement. It will also improve our opportunities for 
obtaining reciprocity with other contracting countries.
    I just returned, this morning, from a reciprocity meeting 
with provincial directors in Canada, where we had the 
opportunity to discuss our continuing case concerns. And while 
the U.S. has, as you have heard, good relationships with Canada 
and bilateral agreements in place, our colleagues in Canada and 
our State directors feel very strongly that this will improve 
the processing of our cases, even with our close neighbor, 
Canada.
    In addition, the Convention will give us the ability to 
coordinate and effectively communicate through a central 
authority structure, and to effectively address some of those 
jurisdictional boundaries and barriers that you've heard about 
earlier, as well as providing access to cost- free services for 
U.S. citizens needing assistance in other countries.
    But, there is nothing more critical in all of this than the 
benefit that children and families will receive and the health 
and safety and stability that they may see in having a reliable 
source of income. This certainly has been demonstrated by the 
current economic downturn facing our nation, that we need to do 
everything possible to ensure that children grow up in safe, 
stable homes, and that are afforded the best chances possible 
to grow healthy and strong. Child support is a critical 
component to that stability and provides--and helps parents 
provide the best they possibly can, particularly when times are 
tough.
    We know that the job markets have changed and we've become 
a global community. More children are living in countries 
different from their parents than ever before. They deserve the 
best we can give them in establishment and enforcement of 
orders to ensure they have support from both of their parents.
    In New Jersey alone, our international caseload is now over 
3100 cases and has been growing every year. We are just one of 
the 54 States and jurisdictions operating a child support 
program. And so, the impact and benefit from this Convention 
will be significant to the children and families we serve.
    Just as Congress did with the passage of UIFSA when it 
provided for reciprocity across States and territories, it must 
do so now with this new opportunity worldwide. Therefore, I 
urge the Senate to promptly grant its advice and consent to the 
ratification by the President of this Hague Convention on the 
International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
Family Maintenance.
    Thank you again for the opportunity to speak, and I'm 
willing to answer some questions.


    [The prepared statement of Ms. Griffin follows:]


                  Prepared Statement of Alisha Griffin

    Senator Cardin, Senator Lugar, and members of the committee, thank 
you for the opportunity to testify regarding the importance of 
approving the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child 
Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. I am Alisha Griffin, 
Assistant Director in the Division of Family Development responsible 
for the Office of Child Support Services within the New Jersey 
Department of Human Services. I have been the child support director 
for over twelve years, prior to which I served over 20 years in Child 
Welfare and Child Protection and as a practicing Family Psychologist. 
During the past seven years, I have had the privilege of working side 
by side with colleagues from this country as well as 67 other countries 
to develop this treaty document that provides a significant new 
framework for the international establishment and enforcement of 
support orders. I appear before you today to urge your approval of the 
United States' participation in this convention.
    Child support is a critical family service program, one that 
research has shown lifts families out of poverty. It has made 
substantial improvements in performance over the last twelve years, and 
today, both nationally and in New Jersey, we collect 65% of child 
support due. Unfortunately, 35% of the families we serve do not yet get 
what they deserve and need. The child support community is committed to 
doing better to make child support a reliable source of income for all 
families. In 1996 Congress passed legislation mandating that all states 
adopt the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which paved 
the way for significant improvement of cooperation and enforcement 
across all US states and territories.
    Like UIFSA, the Hague Convention contains procedures for processing 
international child support cases that are uniform, simple, efficient, 
accessible, and inexpensive. It is founded on the agreement of 
contracting countries to recognize and enforce each other's support 
orders. It is based on a system of administrative cooperation among 
central authorities of contracting countries to facilitate the transfer 
of documents and case information--using electronic technology where 
feasible--so that the necessary information is available for 
expeditious resolution of international child support matters. Similar 
procedures are already in place in the United States for processing 
interstate child support cases. Indeed, many provisions of the 
Convention were drawn from the US experience with UIFSA.
    The major benefit to the United States from joining this Convention 
will be obtaining reciprocity from other contracting countries. For 
many international cases, US courts and state Title IV-D child support 
enforcement agencies already recognize and enforce child support 
obligations, whether or not the United States has a reciprocal 
agreement with the other country. However, many foreign countries will 
not enforce US support orders in the absence of a treaty obligation. 
Ratification of the Convention by the United States will mean that more 
children residing in the United States will receive financial support 
from their parents residing in countries that are also signatories to 
the Convention.
    Another significant benefit to joining the Convention will be the 
ability to effectively coordinate the enforcement of international 
child support cases with contracting countries through communication 
with central authorities designated to receive and transmit 
applications for services and to facilitate case processing. In 
addition, the ability to use uniform forms for transmitting information 
and uniform protocols for transferring child support payments in 
different currencies will minimize delays in enforcing orders and 
delivering payments, while reducing transaction costs for both parents.
    The Convention effectively addresses jurisdictional barriers that 
have prohibited the United States from joining other child support 
conventions. Existing maintenance conventions base jurisdiction to 
order support on the habitual residence of the creditor (i.e., the 
custodial parent or child) rather than on minimum contacts with the 
debtor (the non-custodial parent), as required by US constitutional 
standards of due process. The Convention provides flexibility for a 
court of the United States having jurisdiction over the non-custodial 
parent to establish a new order in circumstances where U.S. 
jurisdictional requirements were not met in the country issuing the 
initial order that is sought to be enforced.
    The Convention also provides for access to cost-free services for 
US citizens needing assistance with child support enforcement in a 
contracting country, an important element of reciprocity for US 
citizens. The small number of countries that may be required by their 
own internal procedures to assess fees must use a means test based on 
the income of the child, not the parents, with the result that any fees 
will be minimal as compared to current practice where custodial parents 
must often retain local private counsel in order to establish or 
enforce a support order.
    The Convention does not affect substantive child support law, which 
is generally left to the individual states. Its primary focus is on 
uniform procedures for enforcement of decisions and for cooperation 
among countries. There is nothing more critical to the benefit of 
children than the health, safety and stability of the family. That has 
certainly been demonstrated by the current economic downturn facing 
this nation. We need to do everything possible to ensure children grow 
up in safe stable homes and are afforded the best chances possible to 
grow healthy and strong. Child support is a critical component and 
ensuring that parents provide the best they can for their children, 
particularly during tough economic times.
    As we know, job markets have changed and we have become a global 
community. More children are living in countries different from their 
parents. Nonetheless, they deserve the best we can give them in 
establishment and enforcement of orders to ensure that they have 
support from both parents. In New Jersey alone, our international 
caseload is over 3,000 cases and has been growing every year. We are 
just one of 54 states and territories operating Title IV-D programs, so 
the impact and benefit will be significant.
    Just as Congress did with the passage of UIFSA when it provided for 
reciprocity across states and territories, it must do so now with this 
new opportunity, worldwide. Therefore, I urge the Senate to promptly 
grant its advice and consent to the ratification by the President of 
The Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and 
Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
    Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today, and for your 
consideration of this important international convention which is 
critical to the well-being of children and families.


    Senator Cardin. Well, thank you for your testimony.
    I think it's fair to say that most States believe that they 
have laws--strong laws--to meet the needs of their citizens as 
it relates to child support enforcement. So, my first 
question--and I'll ask this to each of you--do you agree with 
the characterization on the last panel that the changes that we 
are requesting the States to make in their child support 
enforcement laws--are basically technical?
    Judge Robinson?
    Ms. Robinson. Well, there are definitely----
    Senator Cardin. Microphone.
    Ms. Robinson. There are provisions in UIFSA 2008 which are 
complex and which are difficult. I don't know if I would say 
they are purely technical.
    Senator Cardin. I guess my question is: Are they more in 
technical compliance to the international treaties, and will 
have minimal impact on the current collection proceedings that 
are operating in the 54 jurisdictions that you refer to?
    Ms. Robinson. As far as the domestic orders are concerned, 
it will have very little impact. It should speed up and help 
the processing of the international cases, because there will 
be standard procedures to be followed.
    Senator Cardin. I understand it'll affect the international 
orders, but, as far as the domestic support order enforcement, 
do you envision any significant change as a result of the 
required amendments of the local laws?
    Ms. Robinson. I do not.
    Senator Cardin. And the second question is, Do you believe 
it's reasonable to require the States to conform to these 
requirements within 2 years? I believe that's the requirement 
if we were to ratify the Convention. Is that a reasonable 
period?
    Ms. Robinson. It's going to be a tight period, Senator. 
There will be a lot of work that has to be done to see that 50 
different jurisdictions enact this. But, I think there is a lot 
of momentum out there, and I think that the States will follow 
and do this. Last night, I had an email from the head of the 
Title IV office--IV-D office in Delaware, saying, ``We fully 
support the treaty, and we're ready to go.'' So, I think there 
will be a lot of support in getting this legislation through 
the State legislatures.
    Senator Cardin. Well, the consequences here are pretty 
dramatic: loss of Federal child support funds. It would be 
devastating for any State to lose those funds. So, I want to 
make sure this is doable. I know how local politics can be. 
This doesn't always get to be the first order up. Some 
legislatures work on a 2-year cycle, and when we take up this 
ratification, Congress is unlikely to give much attention to 
the requirements on the States. So, is it reasonable to expect 
that if there's a 2-year window, every State will have ample 
time to get the amendments ratified?
    Ms. Robinson. Well, of course it's been done, as I pointed 
out in the earlier----
    Senator Cardin. Yeah.
    Ms. Robinson. In 1996, the States were required to adopt 
UIFSA, and they did so. Really, I think this is a question that 
probably HHS should answer, because they are the ones who have 
included that date in their legislation.
    Senator Cardin. No, I don't think so. I'm a former State 
legislator, and I think I knew better than the Federal 
Government did as to how long it would take, in Maryland, to 
change our statutes. Our political structure is different than 
the Federal, and when you're counting the territories that are 
impacted, it's an issue that I think we're going to need to 
look at.
    Ms. Griffin, let me ask you both of those questions. First, 
do you agree that these changes would not have any significant 
impact on States' ability to collect child support and enforce 
child support judgments in regard to in-country enforcement?
    Ms. Griffin. No, it will not have any impact on it. We've 
already looked at that, and we actually, in New Jersey, are 
positioned to move the UIFSA 2008 forward in the next 
legislative session, or as soon as this implementing 
legislation is passed. I do think that a number of States, as 
you heard, already--Nevada, North Dakota, Maine--already moved 
the legislation forward. So, States are positioned and have 
looked at the current legislative package that has been put 
forward by the Uniform Commission.
    Senator Cardin. Now, you're from New Jersey, but I would 
like this to be broader. The second question I asked Judge 
Robinson, Do you believe a 2-year period is a reasonable period 
for all States to be able to conform to the requirements of 
this Convention, once ratified by the United States Senate?
    Ms. Griffin. I do believe it is, because, as Judge Robinson 
said, we did it in 1996. I was here then. We did it in 1996. My 
colleagues did it then. I've served as the president of the 
National Council of Child Support Directors. I know that 
they're fully behind this treaty and the need to move 
international cases forward.
    The new legislation really is fairly simple. There are not 
a lot of domestic changes to the body of UIFSA. It sets out a 
new chapter that will give us very specific guidance around 
international cases. So, I think that that will be, really, 
much easier, in some respects, for State legislators to 
understand it and to follow it and to help it through that 
process.
    Senator Cardin. And I understand that you were part of the 
negotiations that took place on this Convention. So, my last 
question deals with the issue of federalism and as to whether 
you're satisfied, as a State official, that we have the right 
balance here, utilizing a Federal agency because of the 
international aspects to the enforcement that would be 
impossible at the State level. But, do we respect the integrity 
and independence of our States as being principally responsible 
to collect child support for their citizens?
    Ms. Griffin. I do. I think it's a very effective balance. 
Currently, even in the bilaterals that we now have with all of 
the countries, that you heard from Commissioner Turetsky, we 
play that--we work that through now, and we have our--each of 
our States has our own family law construct, and we have the 
ability to work within that State's family law construct, our 
individual enforcement techniques and tools. But, we also 
benefit from the support and assistance of HHS in other areas 
crossing territories between States and within the United 
States, but also in those bilaterals. And I think that that's a 
balance that we've shown has been very effective to date. And I 
think this will just further that balance.
    Senator Cardin. Thank you.
    Senator Risch?
    Senator Risch. Thank you.
    Well, first of all, let me say to Senator Cardin, I don't 
have a concern necessarily, particularly regarding the 2-year 
matter. I--certainly, it's a concern if States can't get it 
done in 2 years. But, even--in Idaho, that's probably the low-
water mark, as far as not wanting to be bridled and led by the 
Federal Government. I think this could probably easily be done 
in 2 years. And not only that, but with the Uniform Law 
Commissioners--Commission behind this, they have been--they 
have tremendous credibility in the States, and I think that 
this can probably get done. And I guess, at the end of the day, 
if it had--if 48 States have done it, and there were two that 
hadn't, it could be extended for another year, or what have 
you.
    But, this is not something that becomes political or 
controversial or anything. I think most States understand that 
it is in everyone's best interest to do what can be done to 
collect child support, because it comes out of--unpaid child 
support comes out of every citizen's pocket, and--so, I think 
that probably the States will jump onboard with this very 
quickly.
    I share your concern, obviously, you--we don't want any 
States to be--to lose, simply because they didn't meet an 
artificial timetable, but I suspect that this timetable would 
probably be probably be legitimate. And I'm like you, I come 
out of a State legislative background.
    So, thank you.
    Senator Cardin. No, I appreciate that comment. I certainly 
agree with you that sometime concerns in State legislatures are 
the urgent issues that they have to deal with and these types 
of amendments sort of get put on a calendar that are always 
preempted by something else, until you get right near the 
deadline and the finance officer comes in and says, ``You know, 
you're jeopardizing Federal funds.'' And all of a sudden, they 
start to take it up. I mean, I think you have to have the 
deadline, and I think you have to have the consequences; 
otherwise, it may get delayed, not because of opposition, but 
just because of the priority of legislative calendars.
    So, I agree, though, with your point. I think 2 years is a 
reasonable expectation with due notice.
    I think the greatest concern here, right now, is the other 
countries also moving forward with this. If this is going to 
work effectively, then we do need to see a significant number 
of countries enter into the Convention and ratify it. The 
United States is not the problem. The United States currently 
is enforcing child support orders from other countries. I 
expect that the United States will see this as a very positive 
change to help our citizens. We just hope that other countries 
will move quickly to consider ratification of the Convention.
    If there are no further questions, let me thank our 
witnesses.
    And as I indicated earlier, the record will remain open for 
2 days. We may have some additional questions asked on the 
record.
    And I want to thank you again for your testimony, but, more 
importantly, thank you for what you do, Ms. Griffin, in helping 
the family issues in your State, and, Judge Robinson, for being 
involved in the Uniform Law Commission.
    I actually had some involvement in the Uniform Law 
Commission when I was in the State legislature, and I know the 
work that you do, and it's very important work.
    Thank you all very much.
    With that, the committee will stand adjourned.


    [Whereupon, at 3:32 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
                               APPENDIX I

                              ----------                              


                          CONFERENCE OF STATE 
                          COURT ADMINISTRATORS

                              RESOLUTION 2

In Support of Ratification of the Hague Convention on the International 
Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance and in 
Support of Conforming Changes to the Uniform Interstate Family Support 
                                  Act


WHEREAS, the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) 
        recognizes that international child support enforcement is 
        increasingly more common and important in this global society;


WHEREAS, on November 23, 2007, after four years of deliberation, the 
        Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support 
        and Other Forms of Family Maintenance was adopted at the 
        conclusion of the Twenty-First Diplomatic Session of the Hague 
        Conference on Private International Law at The Hague, The 
        Netherlands;


WHEREAS, this Convention contains procedures for processing 
        international child support cases that are uniform, simple, 
        efficient, accessible, and inexpensive;


WHEREAS, this Convention is founded on the agreement by contracting 
        countries to recognize and enforce each other's support 
        obligations and is based on a system of administrative 
        cooperation among the contracting countries to facilitate the 
        transfer of documents and case information--using electronic 
        technology where feasible--so that the necessary information is 
        available for expeditious resolution of international child 
        support matters;


WHEREAS, similar procedures are already in place in the United States 
        (US) for processing interstate child support cases, as many of 
        the provisions of the Convention were drawn from the US 
        experience with the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act 
        (UIFSA);


WHEREAS, state courts and state child support enforcement agencies in 
        the US already recognize and enforce child support obligations, 
        whether or not the US has a reciprocal agreement with the other 
        country, so the major benefit for the US in joining this 
        Convention will be obtaining child support enforcement services 
        from other contracting countries for US citizens;


WHEREAS, this Convention effectively addresses jurisdictional barriers 
        that have prohibited the US from joining other international 
        child support conventions by providing flexibility for a US 
        court having jurisdiction over the noncustodial parent to 
        establish a new order in circumstances where US jurisdictional 
        requirements were not met in the country issuing the initial 
        order that is sought to be enforced;


WHEREAS, the Convention and the conforming amendments to the UIFSA will 
        not affect intrastate or interstate cases in the U.S. and will 
        apply only to cases where the custodial parent and child live 
        in one contracting country and the noncustodial parent lives in 
        another contracting country;


WHEREAS, the Convention does not affect substantive child support law, 
        which is generally left to the individual states, as its 
        primary focus is on uniform procedures for enforcement of 
        decisions and for cooperation among countries; and


WHEREAS, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) worked closely with the U.S. 
        Departments of State and Health and Human Services and a wide 
        variety of organizations with expertise in child support 
        enforcement to develop the 2008 amendments to UIFSA to ensure 
        that state law will conform to the requirements of the 
        Convention.


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference urges the President to 
        submit to the United States Senate a resolution seeking its 
        advice and consent to ratify the Hague Convention on the 
        International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
        Family Maintenance, adopted by The Hague Conference on Private 
        International Law on November 23, 2007;


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference urges the United States 
        Senate to promptly grant its advice and consent to ratify the 
        Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support 
        and Other Forms of Family Maintenance; and


BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference urges the Congress to act 
        promptly to amend the Social Security Act as necessary to 
        comply with the provisions of the Convention, including an 
        amendment to section 466(f) of the Social Security Act to 
        require every state to enact the 2008 version of the Uniform 
        Interstate Family Support Act as a condition of receiving 
        federal funding for the state's Title IV-D child support 
        enforcement program.


Adopted as proposed by the Courts, Children, and Families Committee at 
the 2008 Midyear Meeting on December 4, 2008
                              APPENDIX II

                              ----------                              


                      CONFERENCE OF CHIEF JUSTICES

                              RESOLUTION 5

In Support of Ratification of the Hague Convention on the International 
Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance and in 
Support of Conforming Changes to the Uniform Interstate Family Support 
                                  Act

WHEREAS, the Conference of Chief Justices (the Conference) recognizes 
        that international child support enforcement is increasingly 
        more common and important in this global society; and

WHEREAS, on November 23, 2007, after four years of deliberation, the 
        Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support 
        and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (the Convention) was 
        adopted at the conclusion of the Twenty-First Diplomatic 
        Session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law at 
        The Hague, The Netherlands; and

WHEREAS, the Convention contains procedures for processing 
        international child support cases that are uniform, simple, 
        efficient, accessible, and inexpensive; and

WHEREAS, the Convention is founded on the agreement of contracting 
        countries to recognize and enforce support obligations ordered 
        by other contracting countries and is based on a system of 
        administrative cooperation among the contracting countries to 
        facilitate the transfer of documents and case information 
        (using electronic technology when feasible) so the necessary 
        information is available for expeditious resolution of 
        international child support matters; and

WHEREAS, similar procedures are already in place in the United States 
        for processing interstate child support cases, as many of the 
        provisions of the Convention were drawn from the U.S. 
        experience with the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act 
        (UIFSA); and

WHEREAS, the Uniform Law Commission worked closely with the U.S. 
        Departments of State and Health and Human Services and a wide 
        variety of organizations with expertise in child support 
        enforcement to develop the 2008 amendments to UIFSA to ensure 
        that state law will conform to the requirements of the 
        Convention; and

WHEREAS, state courts and state child support enforcement agencies in 
        the U.S. already recognize and enforce foreign child support 
        obligations, whether or not the U.S. has a reciprocal agreement 
        with the other country, so the major benefit for the U.S. in 
        joining the Convention will be obtaining child support 
        enforcement services from other contracting countries for U.S. 
        citizens; and

WHEREAS, the Convention effectively addresses jurisdictional barriers 
        that have prohibited the U.S. from joining other international 
        child support conventions by providing flexibility for a U.S. 
        court having jurisdiction over the noncustodial parent to 
        establish a new order in circumstances where U.S. 
        jurisdictional requirements were not met in the country issuing 
        the initial order that is sought to be enforced; and

WHEREAS, the Convention and the conforming amendments to the UIFSA will 
        not affect intrastate or interstate cases in the U.S. and will 
        apply only to cases where one of the parties lives in a foreign 
        contracting country; and

WHEREAS, the Convention does not affect substantive child support law 
        as its primary focus is on uniform procedures for the 
        enforcement of decisions and for cooperation among countries;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Conference urges the President 
        to submit to the United States Senate a resolution seeking its 
        advice and consent to ratify the Hague Convention on the 
        International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
        Family Maintenance, adopted by the Hague Conference on Private 
        International Law on November 23, 2007; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference urges the United States 
        Senate to promptly grant its advice and consent to ratify the 
        Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support 
        and Other Forms of Family Maintenance; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Conference urges the Congress to act 
        promptly to amend the Social Security Act as necessary to 
        comply with the provisions of the Convention.


Adopted as proposed by the CCJ/COSCA Courts, Children, and Families 
Committee at the CCJ/COSCA Annual Meeting in August 2009.
                              APPENDIX III

                              ----------                              


             Additional Questions for the Record Submitted 
                      by Members of the Committee

           RESPONSES TO ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD 
           SUBMITTED TO KEITH LOKEN BY SENATOR JOHN F. KERRY


    Question. The State Department's letter of submittal states 
that the Convention ``will be implemented through a combination 
of existing law and practice and certain necessary conforming 
amendments to federal legislation and relevant uniform state 
law (the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)).'' The 
letter further provides that it is not expected that the United 
States would deposit its instrument of ratification until the 
necessary changes to federal law have been enacted and all 
states have adopted the amendments to UIFSA.
    Are there any factors that would lead the Executive Branch 
to conclude that U.S. ratification of the Convention would be 
advisable prior to the adoption of amendments to UIFSA by all 
states?

    Answer. The Executive Branch does not contemplate any 
situation in which it would deposit an instrument of 
ratification before all of the states have adopted the 2008 
amendments to UIFSA, which will ensure that the states 
implement fully the United States' obligations under the 
Convention.


    Question. The State Department's letter of submittal states 
that the Convention ``will be implemented through a combination 
of existing law and practice and certain necessary conforming 
amendments to federal legislation and relevant uniform state 
law (the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)).'' The 
letter further provides that it is not expected that the United 
States would deposit its instrument of ratification until the 
necessary changes to federal law have been enacted and all 
states have adopted the amendments to UIFSA.
    What options would be available to the Executive Branch to 
ensure full implementation of the Convention if a state (or 
states), subsequent to U.S. ratification, amended its law in a 
manner that was inconsistent with U.S. obligations under the 
Convention?

    Answer. In light of state compliance with similar federal 
requirements in the child support enforcement area since 1975, 
it is unlikely that a state would amend its law in a manner 
inconsistent with the requirements of the proposed Multilateral 
Child Support Convention Implementation Act of 2009 or the 2008 
version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). 
Should a state take such action, it would risk the loss of 
substantial federal funding for child support enforcement (over 
$4 billion annually) as well as for the Temporary Assistance 
for Needy Families (TANF) programs (approximately $16.5 billion 
annually) pursuant to titles IV-D and IV-A, respectively, of 
the Social Security Act.
    In the unlikely event that a state did enact inconsistent 
legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 
would ask that state to take action to bring its laws into 
compliance with the Convention. The proposed Multilateral Child 
Support Convention Implementation Act of 2009 would authorize 
HHS to take such steps as are necessary within existing HHS 
authorities to ensure compliance with the Convention. One such 
step could include cutting off the funding referred to above. 
The Department of State and HHS would then consult to discuss 
what other steps might be needed to ensure USG compliance with 
the Convention, possibly including new federal legislation.

                              ----------                              


           RESPONSES TO ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD 
          SUBMITTED TO KEITH LOKEN BY SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR


    Question. In its 2008 decision in Medellin v. Texas, 128 
S.Ct. 1346 (2008), the Supreme Court concluded that the United 
States lacked the authority in U.S. law to give effect to a 
judgment of the International Court of Justice relating to U.S. 
obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. 
The Foreign Relations Committee has previously stressed its 
view that it is important that the United States comply with 
its treaty obligations, and has observed that the Committee 
generally does not recommend that the Senate give advice and 
consent to treaties unless it is satisfied that the United 
States has sufficient domestic legal authority to implement 
them. With these considerations in mind, please indicate what 
authorities federal and state governments will rely on to 
implement the various obligations the United States would 
assume upon becoming party to the Convention.

    Answer. On October 1, 2009, the Department of Health and 
Human Services sent to the Speaker of the House of 
Representatives and to the President of the Senate the 
Administration's draft bill, the ``Multilateral Child Support 
Convention Implementation Act of 2009.'' That bill would, among 
other things, require that as a condition for receiving certain 
federal funds, states enact the July 2008 amendments to the 
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The funds at 
issue are substantial federal funding for child support 
enforcement programs as well as funding for the Temporary 
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The July 2008 
amendments were adopted by the Uniform Law Commission to bring 
the provisions of UIFSA into conformity with the obligations of 
the United States under the Convention. As stated in the 
testimony of Battle R. Robinson, Uniform Law Commissioner, 
Delaware, three states (Maine, Nevada and North Dakota) have 
adopted the amendments. We understand that the Uniform Law 
Commission maintains on its website (www.nccusl.org) a list of 
states that have adopted these amendments.
    Should the Senate provide its advice and consent to 
ratification of the Convention, enactment by Congress of the 
Multilateral Child Support Convention Implementation Act of 
2009 and enactment by the states of the July 2008 version of 
UIFSA would together enable the United States to comply with 
its treaty obligations. The United States would not deposit its 
instrument of ratification until both of these actions were 
completed.


    Question. Article 55 of the Convention envisions the 
possibility that parties to the Convention may agree to amend 
the forms annexed to the Convention for use in processing 
applications and cases under the Convention. What process does 
the Executive Branch intend to follow with respect to 
considering any such proposed amendments? Does the Executive 
Branch intend to submit any such amendments to the Senate for 
advice and consent? If not, will the Executive Branch commit to 
consulting with state governments and with the Senate before 
agreeing to any amendments to these forms?

    Answer. Article 55 of the Convention provides that 
amendments to the forms annexed to the Convention may be 
adopted by the Contracting States present at a Special 
Commission to which all Contracting States are invited. Article 
55 further provides that such adopted amendments shall enter 
into force for all Contracting States on the first day of the 
seventh calendar month after the date of their communication by 
the depositary to all Contracting States, except for those 
Contracting States that make a reservation with respect to that 
amendment before the end of the stated period.
    The forms contain check lists of information that must be 
provided by the Central Authorities in submitting or 
acknowledging receipt of an application. The forms are aimed at 
facilitating and harmonizing the transmission of such 
information in order to expedite processing of applications in 
implementation of the Convention. The forms repeat verbatim the 
confidentiality provisions of the Convention to remind the 
Central Authorities of those obligations and provide a 
standardized way for the Central Authorities to indicate 
whether they have made a determination under Article 40(1) of 
the Convention regarding confidentiality. Based on the intended 
purpose of the forms, our expectation is that any amendments to 
the forms would be technical and administrative in nature and 
would not, in the normal course, require the advice and consent 
of the Senate. If, however, a proposed or adopted amendment 
were to go beyond a technical and administrative amendment 
aimed at facilitating implementation of the Convention, the 
Executive Branch would consult with the committee in a timely 
manner regarding the question of whether advice and consent is 
warranted. Under such circumstances, the Executive Branch could 
make appropriate use of the ``reservation'' procedure described 
in Article 55(3) to prevent an amendment from entering into 
force for the United States before the conclusion of 
consultations with the Committee.
    During the negotiation of the Convention, the Department of 
State and the Department of Health and Human Services worked 
closely and consulted extensively with a variety of domestic 
stakeholders, including representatives of state child support 
enforcement agencies and the Uniform Law Commission, to ensure 
that their views were taken into account. We would expect to do 
the same with regard to any proposed amendments to these forms.
    Because Article 55 requires parties to ``make a 
reservation'' in the event that a State does not wish to be 
bound by a particular amendment to the forms, we recommend that 
language be included in the Senate's Resolution of advice and 
consent along the following lines:

          Article 55 of the Convention sets forth a special 
        procedure for the amendment of the forms annexed to the 
        Convention. In the event that the United States does 
        not want a particular amendment to the forms adopted in 
        accordance with Article 55(2) to enter into force for 
        the United States on the first day of the seventh 
        calendar month after the date of its communication by 
        the depositary to all parties, the Executive Branch may 
        by notification in writing to the depositary make a 
        reservation, in accordance with Article 62 of the 
        Convention, with respect to that amendment and without 
        the approval of the Senate.


    Question. The Convention does not establish procedures for 
amendments to the Convention's text (as distinct from 
amendments to the forms attached to the Convention addressed by 
Article 55). What procedures would apply for the adoption of 
any amendments to the Convention's text? Does the Executive 
Branch intend to submit any amendments to the Convention's text 
to the Senate for its advice and consent?

    Answer. Like other Conventions developed under the auspices 
of the Hague Conference on Private International Law to which 
the United States is a party (such as the 1993 Convention on 
Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of 
Intercountry Adoption, the 1980 Convention on the Civil Aspects 
of International Child Abduction, the 1970 Convention on the 
Taking of Evidence Abroad in Civil and Commercial Matters, and 
the 1965 Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and 
Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters), this 
Convention's text is silent on the procedures for amending the 
text of the Convention itself (other than to the forms annexed 
to the Convention that are subject to a special amendment 
process).
    In such cases of silence, customary international law rules 
regarding the amendment of multilateral treaties, as reflected 
in Article 40 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, 
would apply. The Executive Branch would ordinarily expect such 
amendments to this Convention to be transmitted to the Senate 
for its advice and consent.


    Question. Currently, only one other country--Burkina Faso--
has signed the Convention. What steps does the Administration 
plan to take to encourage other countries to become parties to 
the Convention?

    Answer. Should the United States become a party to the 
Convention, we intend to take every opportunity to encourage 
other States to take similar action. In the meantime, we have 
been monitoring the progress of other countries' ratification 
efforts and in fact, a number of countries are taking steps to 
become parties to the Convention. The member states of the 
European Community (EC) strongly support the Convention. It is 
anticipated that all the member states and the EC would join 
together, perhaps in 2011. Canada also is a strong supporter of 
the Convention and we understand that the federal government 
there is working with the provinces and territories on 
implementation under Canada's federal system. We understand 
that other countries such as Norway and Australia are actively 
considering becoming parties.

                              ----------                              


           RESPONSES TO ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FOR THE RECORD 
        SUBMITTED TO VICKI TURETSKY BY SENATOR RICHARD G. LUGAR


    Question. Articles 4 through 8 of the Convention address 
functions that Central Authorities are obligated to perform 
under the Convention. Please indicate what costs federal and 
state governments are expected to incur to implement these 
obligations. Please also indicate to what extent, if any, these 
costs would be additional to costs federal and state 
governments already incur as part of existing federal and state 
programs.

    Answer. The administrative cooperation requirements for 
Central Authorities under the Treaty are similar to those 
required for interstate child support agency activities as 
performed under the existing title IV-D program. Therefore, 
none of the activities mandated under the Treaty would 
measurably increase costs in the short term as the federal and 
state governments already incur these expenses as part of 
existing federal and state programs.
    Currently, less than one percent of the existing 15 million 
cases in the title IV-D caseload involve a parent living in 
another country. Even over the next 10 years, as more countries 
ratify and implement the Treaty, costs are not expected to 
increase significantly. Those countries expected to be the 
first to ratify the Treaty are, for the most part, the 
countries with the most developed child support systems that 
are working already with State child support agencies under our 
existing Federal bi-lateral or State-level arrangements. While 
we expect that the international caseload will continue to 
increase over the long term, the added efficiencies (uniform 
forms, standard operating procedures) of the treaty and future 
anticipated enhancements in communication and technology are 
expected to greatly reduce the cost-per-case.


    Question. Article 15 of the Convention requires state 
parties to provide free legal assistance in connection with 
applications concerning maintenance obligations. Please 
indicate what costs federal and state governments are expected 
to incur to implement this obligation. Please also indicate to 
what extent, if any, these costs would be additional to costs 
federal and state governments already incur as part of existing 
federal and state programs.

    Answer. State child support agencies and the Federal 
government already provide all services mandated under the 
treaty, including provision of any necessary legal assistance, 
in international cases free of charge, as required under 
sections 454(32) of the Social Security Act. Since we are 
currently providing services in international cases, and do not 
anticipate an imminent substantial increase in cases coming 
into this country, we do not anticipate measurably increased 
costs to federal or state governments in the foreseeable 
future.
    Treaty countries are not required to provide free legal 
services ``if and to the extent that the procedures of that 
State enable the applicant to make the case without the need 
for such assistance and the Central Authority provides such 
services as are necessary free of charge.'' Most child support 
activities under the IV-D program in the United States are 
conducted without the need for a lawyer or other legal 
assistance. A majority of international cases already have 
orders which we expect can be routinely recognized and enforced 
without significant cost because most enforcement activities 
are automated and do not involve individual case processing. 
Moreover, at least half the States rely extensively on 
administrative, rather than court-based, procedures to 
establish orders when required.
    Even in those cases requiring establishment or modification 
of an order, the Convention provides many procedures which will 
greatly simplify and reduce costs, in existing cases as well as 
future expenses. For instance an ``abstract or extract of the 
decision drawn up by the competent authority'' may in some 
instances be substituted for the complete order, greatly 
reducing translation costs of extraneous passages in a divorce 
decree. The possibility of electronic transmission of many 
``documents'' also is contemplated in the treaty and it is 
expected that other innovations in presentation of witness 
testimony and corroborating evidence will similarly be 
utilized. A basic premise of the Convention is that it should 
``take advantage of advances in technologies and create a 
flexible system which can continue to evolve as needs change 
and further advances in technology create new opportunities.''