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[Senate Treaty Document 110-21]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



110th Congress                                              Treaty Doc.
2d Session                       SENATE                          110-21
_______________________________________________________________________

HAGUE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL RECOVERY OF CHILD SUPPORT AND FAMILY 
                              MAINTENANCE

                               __________

                                MESSAGE

                                  from

                   THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

                              transmitting

  HAGUE CONVENTION ON THE INTERNATIONAL RECOVERY OF CHILD SUPPORT AND 
OTHER FORMS OF FAMILY MAINTENANCE, ADOPTED AT THE HAGUE ON NOVEMBER 23, 
        2007, AND SIGNED BY THE UNITED STATES ON THAT SAME DATE

[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


 September 8, 2008.--Treaty was read the first time, and together with 
the accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations 
          and ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate

                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                The White House, September 8, 2008.
To the Senate of the United States:

    I transmit herewith the Hague Convention on the 
International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
Family Maintenance, adopted at The Hague on November 23, 2007, 
and signed by the United States on that same date, with a view 
to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to 
ratification, subject to the reservations and declaration set 
forth in the report of the Secretary of State. The report of 
the Secretary of State, which includes an overview of the 
Convention, is enclosed for the information of the Senate.
    The United States supported the development of the 
Convention as a means of promoting the establishment and 
enforcement of child support obligations in cases where the 
custodial parent and child are in one country and the non-
custodial parent is in another. The Convention provides for a 
comprehensive system of cooperation between the child support 
authorities of contracting states, establishes procedures for 
the recognition and enforcement of foreign child support 
decisions, and requires effective measures for the enforcement 
of maintenance decisions. It is estimated that there are over 
15 million child support cases in the United States and that an 
increasing number of these cases will involve parties who live 
in different nations. United States courts already enforce 
foreign child support orders, while many countries do not do so 
in the absence of a treaty obligation. Ratification of the 
Convention will thus mean that more U.S. children will receive 
the financial support they need from both their parents.
    The Department of State and the Department of Health and 
Human Services, which leads the Federal child support program, 
support the early ratification of this Convention. The American 
Bar Association and the National Child Support Enforcement 
Association have also expressed support for the Convention. 
Although some new implementing legislation will be required, 
the proposed Convention is largely consistent with current U.S. 
Federal and State law. Cases under the Convention will be 
handled through our existing comprehensive child support 
system, which involves both Federal and State law. The 
Departments of State and Health and Human Services have been 
working on preparation of the necessary amendments to Federal 
law to ensure compliance with the Convention, and that 
legislation will soon be ready for submission to the Congress 
for its consideration. The National Conference of Commissioners 
on Uniform State Laws has worked closely with the Departments 
of State and Health and Human Services to develop the necessary 
amendments to uniform State child support legislation.
    The Convention requires only two contracting states for 
entry into force. No state has yet ratified the Convention. 
Early U.S. ratification would therefore likely hasten the 
Convention's entry into force. This would be in the interests 
of U.S. families, as it would enable them to receive child 
support owed by debtors abroad more quickly and reliably. I 
therefore recommend that the Senate give prompt and favorable 
consideration to the Convention and give its advice and consent 
to ratification, subject to the reservations and declaration 
described in the accompanying report of the Secretary of State, 
at the earliest possible date.
                                                    George W. Bush.
                          LETTER OF SUBMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                       Department of State,
                                         Washington, June 27, 2008.
The President,
The White House.

    The President: I have the honor to submit to you, with a 
view to its transmittal to the Senate for advice and consent to 
ratification, the Hague Convention on the International 
Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family 
Maintenance, subject to the reservations and declaration set 
forth in the enclosed overview of the Convention. The 
Convention was adopted at The Hague on November 23, 2007, and 
signed by the United States on that same date.
    The United States supported the development of the 
Convention to promote the establishment and enforcement of 
child support obligations in international cases. The 
Department of State and the Department of Health and Human 
Services, which leads the federal child support program, 
support the early ratification of this Convention by the United 
States. All relevant interests have expressed support for the 
Convention. The Convention will require implementing 
legislation, which is being drafted and will soon be ready for 
submission to the Congress for its consideration.
    I recommend, therefore, that you transmit the Convention on 
the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of 
Family Maintenance to the Senate for advice and consent to 
ratification with the reservations and declaration described in 
the enclosed overview.

    Respectfully submitted.
                                                  Condoleezza Rice.
    Enclosures: As stated.

Overview of the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child 
                     Support and Family Maintenance

    This Convention contains numerous groundbreaking provisions 
that will, for the first time on a worldwide scale, establish 
uniform, simple, fast, and inexpensive procedures for the 
processing of international child support cases. While similar 
procedures already are the norm in the United States, 
establishing them as the internationally agreed global standard 
represents a considerable advance on prior child support 
conventions, which leave many of these procedures to be 
regulated largely by each country's national law. The United 
States is not a party to any of these prior conventions.
    A major benefit of ratification for the United States will 
be reciprocity: U. S. courts and child support agencies already 
recognize and enforce foreign child support obligations in many 
cases whether or not the United States has a child support 
agreement with the foreign country. Many foreign countries will 
not process foreign child support requests in the absence of a 
treaty obligation. Thus, ratification of the Convention will 
mean that more children residing in the United States will 
receive the financial support they need from their parents, 
whether the parents reside in the United States or in a foreign 
country that is a party to the Convention.
    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 in another. International child 
support cases within the scope of the Convention are already 
processed under existing federal and state law and practice. 
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)). It is 
expected that the United States would not deposit its 
instrument of ratification until such changes to federal law 
have been enacted and the UIFSA amendments have been adopted by 
all states. The Convention is considered to be non-self-
executing. It will not impose additional financial or 
administrative burdens.

                    ARTICLE-BY-ARTICLE ANALYSIS \1\
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    \1\ A Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations was 
adopted at The Hague on November 23, 2007, the same day as the 
Convention. There is no support within the United States for the 
Protocol and there is thus no plan for the United States to become a 
party to the Protocol.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Chapter I (Articles 1-3) of the Convention addresses the 
object and scope of the Convention and key definitions. Article 
1 identifies the main object of the Convention, which is to 
ensure the effective international recovery of child support 
and other forms of family maintenance. The Article then lists 
four main measures by which the Convention is to achieve the 
Convention's objective: (a) establishing a comprehensive system 
of cooperation between Central Authorities of Contracting 
States;\2\ (b) making available applications for the 
establishment of maintenance decisions; (c) providing for the 
recognition and enforcement of maintenance decisions; and (d) 
requiring effective measures for the prompt enforcement of 
maintenance decisions.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
    \2\ In this Analysis, ``Contracting State'' or ``State'' refers to 
a country. Lower case ``state'' refers to an individual United States 
state.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Article 2 defines the scope of the Convention. The 
Convention applies to maintenance obligations arising from a 
parent-child relationship towards a child under the age of 21. 
This does not mean that a Contracting State must change its 
internal law if the duration of support under that law is below 
age 21; nor does it require a State to establish a support 
obligation for a child who is under 21 years of age. Article 
2(1) merely requires a State to recognize and enforce a foreign 
child support decision in favor of a child under the age of 21. 
Pursuant to Article 2(2), a Contracting State may reserve the 
right to limit the application of the Convention with regard to 
child support to persons who have not reached the age of 18. It 
is not recommended that the United States make such a 
reservation because in many U.S. states a support obligation 
continues until age 21, and all U.S. states (even those in 
which a support obligation ends at age 18) will recognize and 
enforce a decision from another state or State for a child up 
to the age of 21. The Convention also applies to the 
recognition and enforcement of spousal support when the 
application is made in conjunction with a claim for child 
support. This is consistent with the scope of the U.S. Title 
IV-D program,\3\ which requires state child support agencies 
(which will perform most of the Central Authority 
responsibilities in cases under the Convention, and which are 
often referred to as the ``IV-D agencies'') also to provide 
services to applicants seeking spousal support if there is also 
a request for child support from the same applicant involving 
the same debtor. In addition, with the exceptions of Chapters 
II and III (which require certain services by Central 
Authorities), the Convention applies to the establishment and 
modification of spousal support even in cases where there is 
not a related request for child support. This is also 
consistent with Title IV-D, as the Title IV-D agencies are not 
required to provide services for applicants requesting spousal 
support in cases where there is not also a request for child 
support by the same applicant against the same debtor. Thus, a 
foreign applicant seeking establishment or modification of 
spousal support (with no related request for child support) in 
the United States will need to do so through a direct request 
to the competent authority,\4\ rather than by an application to 
the IV-D agency.
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    \3\ The existing federal child support program, included in Title 
IV-D of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 651 et seq.), 
establishes a comprehensive set of requirements with which states must 
comply as a condition for receiving federal funds for a state's child 
support program. This program is administered by the Office of Child 
Support Enforcement in the Department of Health and Human Services 
(HHS/OCSE). All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, 
the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam, participate in the Title IV-D 
program and comply with its requirements.
    \4\ In this Analysis, ``competent authority'' refers to the 
judicial or administrative body that makes the relevant decision.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Under Article 2(3), a Contracting State may declare that it 
will extend the entire Convention, or any part of it, to any 
maintenance obligation arising from other types of family 
relationships, including obligations in respect to vulnerable 
persons. Any such declaration gives rise to obligations between 
two Contracting States only to the extent that each State's 
declarations cover the same maintenance obligations and parts 
of the Convention. It is not recommended that the United States 
make a declaration under this provision, given that there is no 
uniform federal or state program with regard to support 
obligations for other types of family relationships. In the 
absence of a declaration, state courts will continue to have 
discretion to accept such applications if permitted under the 
law of the individual state.
    Finally, Article 2(4) makes clear that the Convention 
applies to children regardless of the marital status of their 
parents.
    Article 3 contains definitions. A particularly important 
definition is the one of ``legal assistance'' (Article 3(c)). 
This term is defined to mean the assistance necessary to enable 
applicants to know and assert their rights and to ensure that 
applications are fully and effectively processed in the 
requested State. It is broader than the concept of legal 
representation in that it also includes legal advice, 
assistance in bringing a case before an authority, and 
exemption from costs of proceedings. The definition of legal 
assistance is critically important in terms of understanding 
Articles 14-17, which require free legal assistance in most 
cases covered by the Convention.
    Chapter II (Articles 4-8) contains the provisions outlining 
the administrative cooperation requirements of the Convention. 
Article 4 addresses the designation of Central Authorities. 
Each Contracting State must designate a Central Authority to 
discharge the duties imposed on it by the Convention. Federal 
States and States with more than one system of law, or having 
autonomous territorial units, may appoint more than one Central 
Authority, but must designate one as the Central Authority to 
which communications may be addressed for onward transmission 
to the other Central Authorities. In order to ensure more 
effective implementation of the Convention, Contracting States 
are required to inform the Hague Conference Permanent Bureau of 
their Central Authority or Authorities, their contact details, 
and, where appropriate, the extent of their functions. The 
United States intends to designate the Secretary of the 
Department of Health and Human Services as the Central 
Authority under this Convention, although most of the Central 
Authority responsibilities for individual cases will be 
delegated to the state child support agencies.
    Article 5 lists the general, non-delegable functions of 
Central Authorities (i.e., those functions which HHS, as the 
U.S. Central Authority, may not delegate to individual U.S. 
state child support agencies), which are to (1) cooperate with 
each other and promote cooperation among their State competent 
authorities to achieve the Convention's purposes; and (2) seek 
as far as possible solutions to difficulties arising in the 
application of the Convention.
    Article 6 lists specific functions that Central Authorities 
must perform with respect to applications under Chapter III of 
the Convention. These functions are essential to ensure that 
children receive the support contemplated under the Convention. 
In particular, under Article 6(1), Central Authorities are 
responsible for transmitting and receiving applications under 
Chapter III (applications made through Central Authorities), 
and initiating or facilitating the institution of proceedings 
relative to such applications. With regard to such 
applications, Article 6(2) provides that Central Authorities 
must also take all appropriate measures to: (a) where 
circumstances require, provide or facilitate the provision of 
legal assistance; (b) help locate the debtor or creditor; (c) 
help obtain relevant income and, if necessary, other financial 
information of the debtor or creditor, including the location 
of assets; (d) encourage amicable solutions, such as mediation; 
(e) facilitate the ongoing enforcement of maintenance decisions 
including any arrears; (f) facilitate the collection and 
expeditious transfer of maintenance payments; (g) facilitate 
the obtaining of documentary or other evidence; (h) provide 
assistance in establishing parentage where necessary for the 
recovery of maintenance; (i) initiate or facilitate the 
institution of proceedings to obtain any necessary provisional 
measures that are territorial in nature and the purpose of 
which is to secure the outcome of a pending maintenance 
application; and (j) facilitate the service of documents.
    Article 6(3) provides that the Article 6 Central Authority 
functions may be performed by other public bodies or certain 
other bodies. A Contracting State must inform the Permanent 
Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law of 
its designation of any such bodies, as well as their contact 
details and the extent of their functions. The Department of 
Health and Human Services intends to delegate most of its 
Article 6 responsibilities to individual U.S. state child 
support agencies, which have day-to-day responsibility for 
managing the Title IV-D child support caseload in the United 
States.
    Article 7 authorizes requests for specific measures made by 
one Central Authority to another when no application under 
Article 10 of the Convention is pending, i.e., when there is no 
application for the recovery of maintenance pending before the 
Central Authority in the requested State. Such requests must be 
supported by reasons, and the specific measure(s) requested 
must be certain ones listed in Article 6, i.e., assistance with 
location, the obtaining of income and other financial 
information, the obtaining of documentary information, 
parentage establishment, taking provisional measures, and 
service of documents. Under Article 7(1), the requested Central 
Authority is directed to take such measures if satisfied that 
they are necessary to assist a potential applicant in making an 
Article 10 application or in determining whether such an 
application should be initiated. An example would be where a 
U.S. creditor is not certain where the debtor resides, but has 
reason to believe that he or she resides in the requested 
State. Under Article 7(1), the Central Authority of the 
requested State would be required to take appropriate measures 
to determine whether the debtor was in the State so that the 
creditor could then make an application in the requested State 
for the recovery of maintenance. Under Article 7(2), a 
requested Central Authority may, but is not required to, take 
specific measures on the request of another Central Authority 
in relation to a maintenance case having an international 
element that is pending in the requesting State. An example 
would be a United States proceeding where the court has 
personal jurisdiction over the debtor, who lives or derives 
income in the requested State. If the U.S. Central Authority 
asked the requested Central Authority for assistance in 
obtaining income information about the debtor, Article 7 would 
authorize the requested Central Authority to provide such 
assistance.
    Article 8 makes clear that each Central Authority must bear 
its own administrative costs in applying the Convention, and 
that a Central Authority may not impose any charge on an 
applicant for the provision of its services under the 
Convention. The one exception where costs may be imposed by a 
Central Authority is for exceptional costs or expenses arising 
from a request for a specific measure under Article 7. In such 
a case, the requested Central Authority must first obtain the 
prior consent of the applicant before providing the services 
for a cost.
    Chapter III (Articles 9-17) sets out the rules governing 
applications made under the Convention through Central 
Authorities. Chapter III applications would be those made 
through the Title IV-D child support agencies in the United 
States. Article 9 provides that an applicant wishing to use the 
Central Authority services of the requested State must make the 
application through the Central Authority of the Contracting 
State in which the applicant resides.
    Article 10(1) lists the types of applications available to 
a creditor seeking to recover maintenance under the Convention: 
(a) recognition or recognition and enforcement of an existing 
decision; (b) enforcement of a decision made or recognized in 
the requested State; (c) establishment of a decision in the 
requested State where there is no existing decision, including 
where necessary the establishment of parentage; (d) 
establishment of a decision in the requested State where 
recognition and enforcement of a decision is not possible or is 
refused because of the lack of a basis for recognition and 
enforcement; (e) modification of a decision made in the 
requested State; and (f) modification of a decision made in a 
State other than the requested State. Pursuant to Article 
10(2), the types of applications under the Convention that are 
available to a debtor in a requesting State, against whom there 
is an existing maintenance decision, are: (a) recognition of a 
decision that suspends, or limits the enforcement of, a 
previous decision in the requested State; (b) modification of a 
decision made in the requested State; and (c) modification of a 
decision made in a State other than the requested State. Except 
as otherwise provided in the Convention, the law of the 
requested State governs applications under the Convention.
    Article 11 details the minimum contents of applications 
under the Convention. Pursuant to Article 11(1), all 
applications, at a minimum, must include: (a) a statement of 
the nature of the application(s); (b) contact information and 
date of birth of the applicant; (c) the name and, if known, 
address and date of birth of the respondent; (d) the name and 
date of birth of any person for whom maintenance is sought; (e) 
the grounds upon which the application is based; (f) where the 
creditor is the applicant, information on where payments should 
be sent; (g) with the exception of applications for recognition 
and enforcement, any information or document specified by the 
requested State in a declaration made pursuant to Article 63; 
and (h) the name and contact details of the Central Authority 
person or entity in the requesting State who is responsible for 
processing the application. It is not recommended that the 
United States make a declaration under Article 11(1)(g) 
requiring other information or documentation in applications to 
the United States.
    In addition, Article 11(2) provides that, as appropriate 
and to the extent known, the application must also include the 
financial circumstances of the creditor and debtor, the name 
and address of the debtor's employer, the nature and location 
of assets of the debtor, and any information that would help 
locate the respondent. The application must be accompanied by 
any necessary supporting information, including documentation 
concerning the entitlement of the applicant to free legal 
assistance However, if the application is for recognition and 
enforcement of a decision, a requested State cannot require any 
documents other than those listed in Article 25. This is an 
important provision, as a limited and uniform number of 
required documents will speed up the processing of these 
applications.
    The Hague Conference will publish recommended forms for 
applications and other supporting documents which States may 
use. These forms have been developed by a working group 
composed of various country representatives, including 
representatives from the United States. While only two of these 
forms will be mandatory,\5\ all of the forms will likely be 
used in nearly all cases and should result in faster, more 
efficient, and more accurate processing of applications.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\ Under Article 12(2) and (3), the transmittal and acknowledgment 
forms annexed to the Convention are mandatory.
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    Article 12 describes the process Central Authorities must 
use in transmitting, receiving, and processing applications and 
cases. The Central Authority in the requesting State has three 
main responsibilities. First, under Article 12(1), it must 
assist the applicant in ensuring that the application is 
accompanied by all the information and documents known to be 
needed for the application's consideration. Second, under 
Article 12(2), when satisfied that the application complies 
with the Convention requirements, the requesting Central 
Authority must transmit the application on behalf of and with 
the consent of the applicant to the Central Authority in the 
requested State. The application must include the transmittal 
form set out in Annex 1 to the Convention. Third, Article 12(2) 
also provides that the Central Authority of the requesting 
State must--upon request--provide the Central Authority in the 
requested State with a complete certified copy of certain 
documents specified in Articles 16, 25, and 30 (documents that 
have to be submitted with applications under various 
circumstances). This last provision is important because it 
establishes as the default rule that documentation under the 
Convention does not need to be certified, which will reduce the 
cost and time required to process most cases.
    In order to ensure timely processing of applications, 
Article 12 also contains several timeframes for status reports. 
Article 12(3) provides that within six weeks from receipt of 
the application, the requested Central Authority must 
acknowledge receipt using the form set forth in Annex 2 to the 
Convention, inform the requesting Central Authority of the 
initial steps that have been or will be taken, request any 
additional documents or information needed, and provide contact 
information for future inquiries about the application. Article 
12(4) provides that within three months of the acknowledgment, 
the requested Central Authority must inform the requesting 
Central Authority of the status of the application. Both the 
requested and requesting Central Authorities are required to 
keep each other informed of the person or unit responsible for 
a particular case, and of the progress of the case. They must 
also provide timely responses to communication. Article 12(6) 
and (7) address the importance of speedy processing of cases, 
requiring that Central Authorities process a case quickly and 
that they use the most rapid and efficient means of 
communication at their disposal. A requested Central Authority 
may refuse to process an application only if it is manifest 
(i.e., clear on the face of the documents received) that the 
requirements of the Convention are not fulfilled. In such a 
case, it must promptly inform the requesting Central Authority 
of its reasons for refusal. A requested Central Authority 
cannot reject an application solely because additional 
information is needed. However, if the requested Central 
Authority requests additional information and the requesting 
Central Authority does not produce the needed information 
within three months of the request (or a longer time period if 
specified by the requested Central Authority), the requested 
Central Authority may inform the requesting Central Authority 
that it will no longer process the application.
    Article 13 provides that the admissibility of documents 
cannot be challenged solely on the basis of the medium or means 
of communication used between the Central Authorities.
    Articles 14 through 17 address the key issue of the cost of 
services, including legal assistance. Most child support 
applicants who use government child support programs are people 
of modest means, who would simply be unable to pursue recovery 
of child support if they had to pay high fees, including for 
legal services. This is especially true in international cases 
where the costs for court and attorney fees and enforcement 
actions can often be greater than the amounts collected. 
Enabling creditors to collect child support is in the interest 
of many governments worldwide as in many countries the 
government (ultimately the taxpayer) will support a child if 
the parents do not. Cost-free services in child support cases, 
in particular free legal assistance, is therefore a key to the 
success of the Convention.
    Article 14 establishes the general standard for access to 
services under the Convention: a requested State must provide 
applicants with effective access to procedures, including 
enforcement and appeal procedures, arising from applications 
processed by Central Authorities. Where necessary, such access 
to procedures must include free legal assistance in accordance 
with Articles 14 through 17, unless legal assistance is not 
required because the State has simple procedures designed to 
allow an applicant to make a case without the need for such 
assistance, and the Central Authority provides whatever 
services are necessary for free. (An example would be a 
requested State that uses administrative procedures to 
establish and enforce maintenance decisions, thus making legal 
assistance unnecessary.)
    Article 15(1) goes on to state that legal assistance with 
respect to child support applications made through Central 
Authorities, as opposed to applications for other forms of 
family maintenance that may be covered by the Convention, must 
be provided free of charge. Notwithstanding Article 15(1), 
Article 15(2) provides that free legal assistance may be 
refused in requests to establish a child support decision (but 
not requests for recognition and enforcement of a foreign 
decision) if the application is on the merits manifestly 
unfounded.
    Article 16 provides that, as an exception to Article 15(1), 
a State may declare that it will make the provision of free 
legal assistance in applications for establishment and 
modification of a child support decision subject to a means 
test based on the means of the child. The requested State may 
not look behind the applicant's statement that the child meets 
that State's means test unless it reasonably believes that 
statement is inaccurate. It is not recommended that the United 
States make a declaration under Article 16.\6\
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    \6\ Many States would have preferred that all requests for free 
legal assistance be made subject to a means test based on the means of 
the creditor (i.e., the custodial parent). This is the test many States 
apply to requests for free legal assistance in domestic cases, and they 
argued that it would be discriminatory to have a different standard in 
international cases. The response is that treating foreign applicants 
differently than domestic applicants is justified because the two are 
in fact different: foreign applicants face many more difficulties than 
domestic applicants. Many States, including the United States, objected 
to a means test based on the means of the creditor because the likely 
result would have been that virtually all of their applicants would 
have been denied free legal assistance. The child-centered means test 
was agreed to as a compromise in order to encourage the widest possible 
ratification. The result should be the same (i.e., free legal 
assistance) in virtually all child support cases.
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    Article 17 provides that for all other applications (i.e., 
applications for forms of family maintenance other than child 
support, or applications by a debtor) processed through Central 
Authorities, the provision of free legal assistance may be made 
subject to a means or merits test.
    Note that Articles 14 through 17 govern applications under 
Chapter III, which are applications processed through Central 
Authorities. There is no requirement for free legal assistance 
in cases where the petitioner makes a request directly to a 
competent authority, either through a private attorney or pro 
se.
    Chapter IV (Article 18) deals with modification of existing 
orders. While it is impossible to eliminate completely the 
possibility of multiple support orders in the same case, the 
Convention, and in particular Article 18, should reduce to the 
greatest extent possible the number of such conflicting, 
multiple support orders. Where a Contracting State has made a 
decision and the creditor is habitually resident in that State, 
Article 18 requires that the debtor initiate, in that State of 
origin, any proceeding to modify the decision or establish a 
new decision, as long as the creditor continues to reside in 
the State. This provision is similar to UIFSA, which is in 
effect in all states. Article 18 sets forth four exceptions: 
(1) where, except in child support cases, the parties have 
agreed in writing to the jurisdiction of another Contracting 
State; (2) where the creditor submits to the jurisdiction of 
the other Contracting State; (3) where the competent authority 
in the State of origin cannot, or refuses to, exercise 
jurisdiction to modify the decision or make a new decision; or 
(4) where the decision made in the State of origin cannot be 
recognized in the Contracting State where proceedings to modify 
the decision or make a new decision are contemplated.
    Chapter V (Articles 19-31) deals with the recognition and 
enforcement of maintenance decisions, providing an efficient 
procedure for the widest recognition of existing decisions. 
Along with the rules for effective (i.e., cost-free) access to 
procedures, the recognition and enforcement rules are key to 
the success of the Convention. Currently, in many countries 
international cases can take many months, if not years, to 
resolve because of the cumbersome recognition and enforcement 
procedures. The Convention provides for a streamlined, 
transparent process that is very similar to the process under 
UIFSA.
    Article 19 provides that Chapter V applies to applications 
transmitted between Central Authorities, as well as to requests 
sent directly to a competent authority, such as requests for 
recognition and enforcement filed by private attorneys directly 
with a court. It further provides that the Chapter applies to 
both judicial and administrative decisions, so long as the 
administrative decision is subject to review by a judicial 
authority and has similar force and effect as a judicial 
decision. The term ``decision'' also includes settlements or 
agreements approved by a judicial or an administrative 
authority. In addition to current support, the decision may 
include automatic adjustment by indexation; a requirement to 
pay arrears, retroactive maintenance, or interest; and a 
determination of costs or expenses. The Chapter also applies to 
maintenance arrangements (i.e., a certain form of private 
agreements) in accordance with Article 30. Although such 
maintenance arrangements are common in many States, they are 
not used in the United States.
    Article 20(1) requires the recognition and enforcement of a 
decision made by a Contracting State if it is enforceable in 
the State of origin and if one of the following listed bases 
for jurisdiction is present: (a) the respondent was habitually 
resident \7\ in the State of origin at the time proceedings 
were instituted; (b) the respondent has submitted to 
jurisdiction; (c) the creditor was habitually resident in the 
State of origin at the time proceedings were instituted; (d) 
the child for whom maintenance was ordered was habitually 
resident in the State of origin, provided that the respondent 
has lived with the child in that State or has resided in that 
State and provided support for the child there; (e) except in 
child maintenance matters, the parties have made a written 
agreement to jurisdiction; or (f) the decision was made by an 
authority exercising jurisdiction on a matter of personal 
status or parental responsibility, unless that jurisdiction was 
based solely on the nationality of one of the parties.
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    \7\ The term ``habitually resident'' is used in a number of private 
international law conventions, and is not defined in any of them. Its 
meaning is determined on a case-by-case basis by the practice and case 
law of each country. In the United States and elsewhere there is no 
consistent interpretation of the term by the courts considering it in 
the context of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of 
International Child Abduction. The negotiators of the 2007 Child 
Support Convention made it clear that case law on the meaning of 
``habitually resident'' in the child abduction context should not 
automatically be applied to child support cases. That is because the 
effect of the use of ``habitual residence'' in the 1980 Convention is 
to restrict the ability of a person to obtain a new custody order 
shortly after going to another country. In fact, one of the objects of 
the 1980 Convention is to limit the ability of a parent unhappy with 
the custody order of one court to ``forum shop'' by moving to another 
country and seeking a new order. In the 2007 Convention, on the other 
hand, the object is to make it easier for a person to recover 
maintenance in international cases, not to restrict the ability of a 
person to apply for maintenance.
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    Under Article 20(2), a State may make a reservation with 
respect to three of the bases of jurisdiction set forth under 
Article 20(1): creditor-based jurisdiction, jurisdiction based 
on a written agreement, or jurisdiction based on a matter of 
personal status or parental responsibility. If a State makes 
such a reservation, it must nevertheless, pursuant to Article 
20(3), recognize and enforce a decision if its law would, in 
similar factual circumstances, confer jurisdiction on its 
authorities to make a decision in that case. If a Contracting 
State cannot recognize a decision because of a reservation, and 
the debtor is habitually resident in that State, Article 20(4) 
provides that the State must, with rare exceptions, take all 
appropriate measures to establish a new decision in favor of 
the creditor. If a maintenance decision for a child under the 
age of 18 cannot be recognized solely because of a reservation 
under this Article, Article 20(5) provides that the decision 
must be accepted as establishing the eligibility of that child 
for maintenance in the requested State. The term 
``eligibility'' does not refer to the amount of maintenance, 
which will be determined pursuant to the law of the requested 
State. In this context, the United States interprets 
``eligibility'' to refer to the child's entitlement to initiate 
a maintenance proceeding in the requested State.
    It is recommended that the United States make a reservation 
in respect of Article 20(1)(c), (e), and (f) because those 
provisions are not consistent with U.S. law on the minimum 
contacts required for jurisdiction in order to satisfy 
constitutional due process requirements. The 20(1)(c) basis for 
jurisdiction--the fact that the creditor resides in the forum 
State--is a common one in nearly all countries, but not the 
United States. In the United States, under current Supreme 
Court jurisprudence, the mere fact that the creditor resides in 
the forum does not give the forum jurisdiction over the debtor 
in a child support case. In order to satisfy our due process 
standards, there must be a nexus between the debtor and the 
forum in order to give the forum jurisdiction over the debtor. 
In other words, it is the respondent's (debtor's) contacts with 
the forum, not the petitioner's (creditor's), that are 
determinative. Kulko v. Superior Court, 436 U.S. 84 (1978).
    Article 20(1)(e) requires a competent authority to 
recognize and enforce a support decision, other than one for 
child support, if the parties have agreed in writing to the 
issuing State's jurisdiction. In the United States, the general 
state-law rule is that forum selection clauses in divorce, 
spousal support and child support cases are unenforceable if 
the chosen forum has no nexus with either party. Finally, 
Article 20(f) requires a competent authority to recognize and 
enforce a support decision where the issuing authority 
exercised jurisdiction on a matter of personal status or 
parental responsibility. In the United States, a competent 
authority must have personal jurisdiction over the parties. The 
fact that a court has in rem jurisdiction over a marriage, for 
example, does not mean that the court has personal jurisdiction 
over the parties. Without the requisite minimum contacts for 
personal jurisdiction, a U.S. court cannot issue a valid order.
    Article 21 allows partial recognition or enforcement of a 
decision, which is consistent with U.S. law.
    Article 22 lists the limited grounds for refusing 
recognition and enforcement of a maintenance decision: ( a) 
recognition and enforcement is manifestly incompatible with the 
public policy of the requested State; (b) the decision was 
obtained by fraud in connection with a matter of procedure; (c) 
proceedings between the same parties with the same purpose are 
pending before an authority in the requested State and those 
other proceedings were begun first; (d) the decision is 
incompatible with a decision between the same parties for the 
same purpose, provided that this latter decision fulfils the 
conditions necessary for its recognition and enforcement in the 
requested State; (e) in a case where the respondent neither 
appeared nor was represented in the proceeding in the State or 
origin: (1) when the law of the State of origin provides for 
advance notice of the proceedings, the respondent did not have 
proper notice and an opportunity to be heard; or (2) when the 
law of the State of origin does not require advance notice of 
the proceedings, the respondent did not have proper notice of 
the decision and an opportunity to challenge it; or (f) the 
decision was made in violation of Article 18 regarding the 
limitations on a modification proceeding. These grounds are 
consistent with current U.S. law.
    Pursuant to Article 22(a), the public policy exception, 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.
    Article 23 sets forth the procedural steps involved in an 
application for recognition and enforcement of a maintenance 
decision. This process minimizes ex officio review and for the 
most part places the burden of raising objections to 
recognition and enforcement on the respondent (usually the 
debtor). Given that most applications for recognition and 
enforcement are likely to be uncontested, this leads to a much 
expedited procedure. This process is similar to the process 
used in the United States under UIFSA. One of the problems with 
the prior child support conventions (to which the United States 
is not a party) is that none of them provides a uniform set of 
procedures for recognition and enforcement. The result has been 
lengthy delays in the enforcement of the foreign decision in 
the many countries that do not have a streamlined system such 
as that established by UIFSA. Article 23 should result in much 
quicker enforcement in those countries. Pursuant to Article 
23(2), where the application has been made through Central 
Authorities, the requested Central Authority must promptly 
either refer the application to the competent authority, which 
must, without delay, declare the decision enforceable or 
register the decision for enforcement; or take such steps 
itself where the Central Authority is the competent authority. 
In the United States, upon receipt of an application for 
recognition and enforcement, a state child support agency would 
comply with Article 23 by promptly referring the application to 
the competent authority for registration for enforcement. 
Article 23(3) provides that where the request is made directly 
to a competent authority, rather than an application through 
Central Authorities, the competent authority must, without 
delay, declare the decision enforceable or register the 
decision for enforcement.
    Article 23(4) specifies the very limited ground on which a 
competent authority in the requested State may review ex 
officio the application for recognition and enforcement of a 
decision. It provides that a declaration of enforceability or 
registration for enforcement may be refused only for the reason 
listed in Article 22(a), i.e., recognition and enforcement of 
the decision is manifestly incompatible with the public policy 
of the requested State. At this stage, neither the applicant 
nor the respondent may submit evidence. Under Article 23(5), 
the applicant and respondent must be promptly notified of the 
decision regarding recognition and enforcement, and have the 
right to challenge or appeal the decision. Article 23(6) 
provides that such challenge or appeal must be made within 30 
days of notification of the decision. That time period is 
extended to 60 days if the contesting party is a nonresident of 
the Contracting State in which the authority made the decision.
    Article 23(7) lists the only permissible bases for an 
applicant or respondent to challenge or appeal the decision by 
the competent authority: (a) the grounds for refusing 
recognition and enforcement set out in Article 22; (b) the 
bases for recognition and enforcement under Article 20; and (c) 
the authenticity or integrity of any document transmitted in 
accordance with Article 25(1)(a), (b), or (d), or Article 
25(3)(b). Under Article 23(8), if the application for 
recognition and enforcement relates to payments that are past-
due, a challenge or appeal may also be founded on the 
fulfillment of the maintenance debt. Article 23(9) provides 
that the applicant and respondent must be promptly notified of 
the decision on any appeal or challenge. Further appeal is 
governed by the law of the requested State. However, under 
Article 23(10), any such further appeal cannot stay the 
enforcement of the decision unless there are exceptional 
circumstances. The rule that further appeal should not have the 
effect of staying enforcement will correct an unfortunate 
situation in many countries where appeals often take many years 
and the creditor receives no support during all those years. 
Finally, Article 23(11) provides that the competent authority 
must act expeditiously in making any decision on recognition 
and enforcement, including any appeal.
    The procedures set forth in Article 23 are familiar to the 
United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many western 
European countries. However, they are not known in some other 
countries, in particular China, where applications for 
recognition and enforcement go directly to the court for 
decision (rather than having almost automatic recognition and 
enforcement if the respondent raises no objections). In order 
to achieve wide ratification of the new Convention, Article 24 
provides an alternative procedure on an application for 
recognition and enforcement, which Contracting States may opt 
for by declaration. Article 24 skips the registration for 
enforcement or declaration of enforceability procedures. 
Instead, the application must be promptly referred to the 
competent authority which must decide on the request. Article 
24(4) provides broader bases for ex officio review than what is 
allowed under Article 23(4). However, as with the Article 23 
procedures, appeals cannot stay the enforcement of the decision 
unless there are exceptional circumstances; and the competent 
authority must act expeditiously in making its decision. It is 
not recommended that the United States make a declaration with 
respect to Article 24.
    Article 25 seeks to simplify the process for an application 
for recognition and enforcement by addressing the number and 
type of documents needed. Currently, this is left to national 
law, and practices vary widely. In some States, the document 
requirements are quite onerous and costly. Article 25(1) lists 
the only documents that are required to accompany an 
application for recognition and enforcement. One such document 
applies only with respect to decisions of administrative 
tribunals. Article 25(1)(b) provides that in the case of such a 
decision, the application must include a document stating that 
the requirements of Article 19(3) (the administrative decision 
is subject to judicial review and has the same force and effect 
as a judicial decision) are met, unless the requesting State 
has specified in accordance with Article 57 that its 
administrative decisions always meet these requirements. It is 
recommended that the United States make this specification in 
accordance with Article 57(1)(e), as all child support 
decisions in the United States made by administrative tribunals 
are subject to judicial review and have the same force and 
effect as a court decision.
    Pursuant to Article 25(2), certified documents are not 
initially required. However, upon a challenge, an appeal under 
Article 23(7)(c), or a request by the competent authority in 
the requested State, a complete copy of the document concerned, 
certified by the competent authority in the State of origin, 
must be promptly provided. This provision will result in more 
rapid and less costly case processing, as there is unlikely to 
be a need for certified documents in uncontested cases, which 
constitute the majority of recognition and enforcement cases.
    Article 25(3) provides several additional, optional 
mechanisms for simplifying the documentation process. Because 
even States that accept uncertified copies of other documents 
may require a certified copy of the decision, Article 25(3)(a) 
provides that a Contracting State may specify that it always 
requires a certified copy of the decision. As child support 
decisions are often only a few paragraphs of a lengthy divorce 
decision, Article 25(3)(b) provides that a State may specify 
the circumstances in which it will accept, in lieu of a 
complete text of the decision, an abstract or extract of the 
decision. As many States are very comfortable with treating 
administrative decisions the same as judicial decisions, 
Article 25(3)(c) provides that a State may specify that it does 
not require a document in each case stating that the 
requirements of Article 19(3) concerning administrative 
decisions are met. As UIFSA, which all U.S. states have adopted 
as a condition for continued receipt of federal funding, treats 
administrative child support decisions the same as judicial 
orders, it is recommended that the United States make the 
Article 25(3)(c) specification, in accordance with Article 
57(1)(e).
    It is not recommended that the United States make the other 
specification, as practices regarding the need for a certified 
copy of a decision may vary from state to state.
    Article 26 provides that the entire Chapter also applies to 
an application for recognition (rather than recognition and 
enforcement) of a decision, save that the requirement of 
enforceability is replaced with a requirement that the decision 
has effect in the State of origin. An application for 
recognition only would be unusual. An example would be an 
application for recognition by a debtor of an order that has 
terminated because the child has passed the age specified for 
termination in the order.
    Under Article 27 a competent authority in the requested 
State is bound by the findings of fact on which the authority 
of the State of origin based its jurisdiction.
    Article 28 prohibits the competent authority in the 
requested State from reviewing the merits of a decision that it 
has been asked to recognize and enforce. This is a standard 
provision in conventions on recognition and enforcement of 
decisions.
    Article 29 states that the physical presence of the child 
or applicant may not be required in any recognition and 
enforcement proceedings in the requested State. Some States 
currently do require such physical presence; obviously the 
entire purpose of the Convention would be frustrated if the 
child or custodial parent had to travel to the requested State.
    Article 30(1) and (2) provide that maintenance 
arrangements, which are defined in Article 3(e), are entitled 
to recognition and enforcement under Chapter V so long as they 
are enforceable as decisions in the State of origin. 
Maintenance arrangements are not decisions because they are not 
rendered by a competent authority; but nor are they merely 
private agreements because they are registered or filed by or 
with such an authority and are subject to review. Such 
arrangements, which are sometimes known as ``authentic 
instruments,'' are not used in the United States but they are 
very common in many States, including States, such as Canada, 
Norway, and Sweden, with which the United States has many child 
support cases.
    As not all of Chapter V's rules for recognition and 
enforcement of a decision would make sense when applied to 
maintenance arrangements, Article 30(3)-(8) sets forth some 
special rules for such arrangements, including bases for 
recognition and enforcement, grounds for refusing recognition 
and enforcement, bases for a challenge or appeal, and required 
documentation. Because maintenance arrangements are not 
initially reviewed by a competent authority, Article 30(6) 
provides an important safeguard. It states that proceedings for 
recognition and enforcement of a maintenance arrangement must 
be suspended if a challenge to the arrangement is pending 
before a competent authority of a Contracting State. This means 
that if a creditor from State A wishes to enforce a maintenance 
arrangement in the United States and the debtor wants to 
contest the validity of the arrangement, the proceeding in the 
United States will be suspended while the debtor challenges the 
arrangement in State A or any other Contracting State with 
jurisdiction to consider the arrangement. Article 30(7) 
provides that a Contracting State may declare that applications 
for recognition and enforcement of maintenance arrangements 
cannot be made directly to a competent authority, but must be 
made through Central Authorities. Article 30(8) permits a 
Contracting State to reserve the right not to recognize and 
enforce a maintenance arrangement. As many States with which 
the United States has had successful bilateral child support 
agreements for years use maintenance arrangements and U.S. 
states have been recognizing and enforcing these arrangements 
without any problems, it is not recommended that the United 
States make the declaration or reservation.
    Article 31 addresses provisional and confirmation orders 
that some States, such as members of the British Commonwealth, 
produce. Where a decision is produced by the combined effect of 
a provisional order made in one State and a confirming order 
made in another State, each of those States are considered 
States of origin for the purpose of Chapter V. The requirements 
of Article 22(e) (notice and opportunity to be heard) are 
deemed met if the respondent had proper notice of the 
proceedings in the confirming State and an opportunity to 
oppose the confirmation of the provisional order. The 
requirement of Article 20(6) that a decision be enforceable in 
the State of origin is met if the decision is enforceable in 
the confirming State. Article 31 further provides that Article 
18 does not prevent proceedings for the modification of the 
decision being commenced in either State.
    Chapter VI (Articles 32-35) addresses the enforcement of a 
decision by the requested State. Article 32 provides that, 
subject to the provisions of Chapter VI, enforcement takes 
place in accordance with the law of the requested State. 
Enforcement must be prompt. Where an application was filed 
through Central Authorities, once a decision is declared 
enforceable or registered for enforcement, enforcement is to 
proceed without further action by the applicant. This is 
important because in some States recognition and enforcement, 
and actual enforcement (i.e., efforts by the State to collect 
the debt) are two separate proceedings, and an applicant who 
has succeeded in getting a tribunal to declare that his or her 
decision is recognized and is enforceable, must initiate, at 
considerable expense, a separate action in order to get actual 
enforcement (i.e., payment of the amount ordered). Duration of 
the maintenance obligation is governed by the law of the State 
of origin. Any limitation on the period for which arrears may 
be enforced is determined by the law of the State of origin of 
the decision or the law of the requested State, whichever has 
the longer limitation period. This choice of law provision is 
identical to one in UIFSA.
    Article 33 directs a requested State to provide at least 
the same range of enforcement methods for cases under the 
Convention as are available in domestic cases.
    Article 34 requires States to have effective measures for 
prompt enforcement of decisions under the Convention. While the 
practice in other child support conventions (to which the 
United States is not a party) has been to leave enforcement to 
national law, the importance of the topic, and the serious 
problems that exist currently in obtaining prompt and effective 
enforcement, prompted the negotiators to address the topic in 
the Convention. While no specific measures are required, 
Article 34 lists examples of effective measures, such as wage 
withholding; garnishment of bank accounts; deductions from 
social security payments; liens on or forced sales of property; 
tax refund withholding; withholding or attachment of pension 
benefits; credit bureau reporting; denial, suspension or 
revocation of various licenses; arid the use of mediation, 
conciliation, or similar processes to bring about voluntary 
compliance. U.S. states employ all of these enforcement 
measures. It is hoped that these provisions will serve an 
educational purpose.
    Consistent with the Convention goal of making the recovery 
of maintenance easier, Article 35 focuses on the prompt 
transfer of funds. Article 35 encourages Contracting States to 
promote the most cost-effective and efficient methods for 
transferring maintenance payments. If a Contracting State has a 
law restricting the transfer of funds, Article 35(2) directs 
the State to accord the highest priority to the transfer of 
funds under the Convention.
    Chapter VII (Article 36) governs public bodies as 
applicants under the Convention. It places some limits on the 
situations in which a public body can be an applicant. The 
first limitation is the type of application. Public bodies may 
only act as creditors for the purpose of applications for 
recognition and enforcement of a decision and for cases covered 
by Article 20(4). The second limitation is that the public body 
can only be a creditor for such applications so long as the 
public body is acting in place of an individual to whom 
maintenance is owed or the body is one to which reimbursement 
is owed for benefits provided in lieu of maintenance. The third 
limitation is the type of decision for which the public body 
can seek recognition and/or enforcement. Pursuant to Article 
36(3), a public body may seek recognition or claim enforcement 
of (a) a decision rendered against a debtor on the application 
of a public body which claims payment of benefits provided in 
place of maintenance; and (b) a decision rendered between a 
creditor and debtor to the extent of the benefits provided to 
the creditor in place of maintenance. The consequence of 
Article 36(3) is that, within the United States, a state child 
support agency may be an applicant for the purpose of 
recognition and enforcement of a decision in cases where the 
custodial party is currently receiving public assistance, or 
has received public assistance in the past, and the benefits 
were provided in lieu of maintenance.
    Chapter VIII (Articles 37-57) contains general provisions. 
Article 37 recognizes that, while most cases under the 
Convention will be processed through Central Authorities, an 
individual may also seek relief directly from a competent 
authority of a Contracting State under the internal law of that 
State. The Article specifies which provisions of the Convention 
apply to such direct requests.
    Articles 38 through 40 set forth rules on protection of 
personal information, confidentiality, and disclosure of 
information.
    Article 41 provides that no legalization or similar 
formality may be required in the context of the Convention.
    Article 42 restricts the authority of the requested State 
to require a power of attorney from the applicant to situations 
where its Central Authority acts on the applicant's behalf. In 
the United States, state child support agencies usually do not 
represent the applicant in the technical legal sense and thus 
do not require a power of attorney.
    Article 43 authorizes the recovery of costs from an 
unsuccessful party, as long as the recovery of costs does not 
take precedence over the recovery of maintenance. In other 
words, the requested Central Authority may not deduct from the 
debtor's child support payments funds to cover the costs 
incurred in handling the case.
    Articles 44 and 45 address language requirements and 
translation costs. Pursuant to Article 44, the general rule is 
that all documentation must be in the original language, 
accompanied by a translation into the official language of the 
requested State or into another language that it has declared 
is acceptable, unless the competent authority in the requested 
State dispenses with translation. Unless otherwise agreed by 
the Central Authorities, any other communications (e.g., e-
mails) between Central Authorities must be in an official 
language of the requested State or in either English or French. 
(These are the two official languages of the Hague Conference.) 
However, a Contracting State may, by making a reservation, 
object to the use of either French or English. It is 
recommended that the United States make a reservation objecting 
to the use of French. Under Article 45, the general rule is 
that the cost of translation is borne by the requesting State. 
Article 45 also provides circumstances in which the translation 
may actually be done by the requested State, although the 
requesting State still bears the cost.
    Articles 46 and 47 address non-unified legal systems. Under 
Article 46, if a State has two or more systems of law, that 
apply in different territorial units, any reference to a law, 
procedure, decision, or judicial or an administrative authority 
in that State shall be construed as referring, where 
appropriate, to the same thing in the relevant territorial 
unit. Similarly, any reference to competent authorities, public 
bodies, other bodies of that State other than Central 
Authorities, residence or habitual residence in that State, the 
location of assets in that State, reciprocity arrangements in 
force in the State, free legal assistance, a maintenance 
arrangement made in the State, or recovery of costs by the 
State shall be construed as referring, where appropriate, to 
the same thing in the relevant territorial unit.
    Under Article 47, a State, with more than one territorial 
unit in which different systems of law apply, is not required 
to apply the Convention to situations solely between such 
different territorial units; a competent authority in one 
territorial unit is not bound to recognize or enforce a 
decision solely because another territorial unit of the same 
State has recognized or enforced the decision.
    Articles 48 and 49 provide that in relations between 
Contracting States to this Convention, this Convention replaces 
three prior child support conventions in so far as their scope 
of application coincides with this Convention's scope of 
application.\8\ The United States is not a party to any of the 
three prior conventions.
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    \8\ The three conventions are the Hague Convention of 2 October 
1973 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Relating to 
Maintenance Obligations, the Hague Convention of 15 April 1958 
Concerning the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Relating to 
Maintenance Obligations Towards Children, and the United Nations 
Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance of 20 June 1956.
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    Article 50 states that this Convention does not affect the 
Hague Convention of 11 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. The United 
States is a party to the 1965 and 1970 Service and Evidence 
Conventions, but is not a party to the 1954 Convention.
    Article 51 discusses coordination of the Convention with 
other international instruments and supplementary agreements. 
Article 51(1) declares that the Convention does not affect any 
international instrument concluded before the Convention to 
which Contracting States are Parties and which contain 
provisions on matters governed by this Convention. Therefore, 
existing bilateral child support agreements between the United 
States and other countries will continue in force. Article 
51(2) provides that a Contracting State may enter into 
agreements with other Contracting States, which contain 
provisions on matters governed by the Convention, with a view 
toward improving the application of the Convention between such 
States, provided such agreements are consistent with the 
objects and purpose of the Convention and do not affect the 
application of the Convention to Contracting States not party 
to such agreements. Therefore, the United States may continue 
to enter into bilateral agreements that may provide for even 
closer cooperation than does the Convention. Article 51(4) 
addresses child support instruments (e.g., mandatory 
regulations) of a Regional Economic Integration Organization 
(REIO) as applied between members of that Organization. 
Currently, the term REIO as defined in Article 59(1) only 
applies to the European Community.
    Article 52(1) clarifies that the Convention permits the 
application of a bilateral or multilateral instrument that 
provides for more effective enforcement of maintenance 
obligations to the extent that such an instrument provides: 
broader bases for recognition of maintenance decisions; 
simplified, more expeditious procedures for recognition or 
enforcement of maintenance decisions; more beneficial legal 
assistance than that provided under Articles 14 through 17; or 
procedures permitting an applicant from a requesting State to 
make an application directly to the Central Authority of the 
requested State. Article 52(2) provides that the Convention 
does not prevent a State from unilaterally applying to 
proceedings in its territory a law that provides for more 
effective enforcement under the same circumstances as described 
in Article 52(1), provided that any simplified and more 
expeditious recognition and enforcement procedures must be 
compatible with the protection offered to parties under 
Articles 23 and 24, in particular, the rights of the parties to 
notice of the proceedings and an adequate opportunity to be 
heard, and with regards to the effects of any challenge or 
appeal.
    Article 53 provides that in the interpretation of the 
Convention, regard shall be had to the importance of uniform 
application of this international Convention.
    Article 54 requires the Secretary General of the Hague 
Conference on Private International Law to convene at regular 
intervals a Special Commission to review the practical 
operation of the Convention and to encourage the development of 
good practices. States must cooperate with the Permanent Bureau 
in the gathering of statistics and case law concerning the 
practical operation of the Convention.
    Article 55 provides a special amendment process for the 
mandatory forms annexed to the Convention. (There are two 
mandatory forms, the Transmittal form required under Article 
12(2) and the Acknowledgement form required under Article 
12(3). All other forms related to the Convention will be 
recommended, but not required.)
    Article 56 contains transitional provisions. Article 56(1) 
provides that the Convention applies to requests received after 
entry into force of the Convention between the requesting State 
and the requested State, even where the request is for 
recognition and enforcement of a decision that was handed down 
in the requesting State before entry into force of the 
Convention. Article 56(2) provides that, with regard to the 
recognition and enforcement of decisions between Contracting 
States that are also Parties to either of the Hague Maintenance 
Conventions mentioned in Article 48, if a decision was given 
prior to entry into force of this Convention and cannot be 
recognized under this Convention but can be recognized under 
one of those other Conventions, then that other Convention 
shall apply. Article 56(3) provides that, in cases other than 
child support cases, the Convention does not require the 
enforcement of a decision for payments falling due prior to 
entry into force of the Convention between the State of origin 
and the State addressed.
    Article 57(1) is an important provision to help ensure 
transparency and effective implementation of the Convention. It 
requires a Contracting State to provide the Permanent Bureau 
with key information, including a description of its laws and 
procedures concerning maintenance obligations; a description of 
the measures it will take to meet the obligations under Article 
6 (Specific functions of Central Authorities); a description of 
how it will provide applicants with effective access to 
procedures as required under Article 14; a description of its 
enforcement rules and procedures, and any specification 
referred to in Article 25(1)(b) and (3).
    Under Article 57(2), States may use a Country Profile form, 
as may be recommended and published by the Hague Conference, to 
provide this information. (The Country Profile was developed by 
a group of States, including the United States, that 
participated in the negotiation of the Convention. It is 
designed to allow a State to check appropriate tick boxes 
describing its laws and procedures, as well as provide 
narrative explanations.
    Chapter IX (Articles 58-65) sets out the usual types of 
provisions concerning signature and ratification of the 
Convention, accession to the Convention, when the Convention 
shall enter into force, how a Contracting State may make 
declarations and reservations, how the Convention may be 
denounced, and the notification requirements to be met by the 
depositary--the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of 
the Netherlands. The Chapter also addresses ratification of the 
Convention and accession to the Convention by REIOs, i.e., by 
the European Community.
    According to Article 58, the Convention is open for 
signature and ratification, acceptance, or approval by States 
that were members of the Hague Conference on Private 
International Law at the time of its Twenty-First (2007) 
Session and by the other States that participated in that 
Session. Any other State or REIO may accede to the Convention 
after it has entered into force. Such accessions will have 
effect only as regards the relations between the acceding State 
and such Contracting States that have not objected to its 
accession within 12 months of notification of such accession. 
An objection to accession may also be raised by States at the 
time when they ratify, accept, or approve the Convention after 
such an accession.
    Article 59 provides that a REIO, which is constituted 
solely by sovereign States and has competence over some or all 
of the matters governed by the Convention, may similarly sign, 
accept, approve, or accede to this Convention. Currently, only 
the European Community qualifies as a REIO. Such an REIO will 
have the rights and obligations of a Contracting State, to the 
extent of its competence over matters governed by the 
Convention. The REIO must notify the depositary in writing of 
the matters governed by the Convention in respect of which 
competence has been transferred to the REIO by its member 
States. The REIO must promptly notify the depositary of any 
changes to its competence. At the time of signature, 
acceptance, approval, or accession, a REIO may--pursuant to 
Article 59(3)--declare that it exercises competence over all 
the matters governed by the Convention, and that its members 
that have transferred competence to it, shall be bound by the 
Convention by virtue of the REIO's signature, acceptance, 
accession, or approval. Article 59(4) provides that, for the 
purposes of the entry into force of the Convention, any 
instrument deposited by a REIO shall not be counted unless the 
REIO declares in accordance with Article 59(3) that its members 
will be bound by the Convention. Article 59(5) states that, 
where appropriate, any reference to a ``Contracting State'' or 
``State'' in the Convention applies equally to a REIO that is a 
party to it. In the event that a declaration is made by the 
REIO pursuant to Article 59(3), any reference to a 
``Contracting State'' or ``State'' in the Convention applies 
equally to the member States of the REIO, where appropriate.
    Article 60 provides that 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. For each State or REIO 
subsequently ratifying, accepting, or approving the Convention, 
the Convention enters into force on the first day of the month 
following the expiration of three months after the deposit of 
its instrument of ratification, acceptance, or approval. The 
Convention will enter into force for each State or REIO that 
accedes to the Convention after it has entered into force on 
the day after the end of the period during which objections may 
be raised in accordance with Article 58(5). Article 60(2)(c) 
details when the Convention shall enter into force for a 
territorial unit to which the Convention has been extended in 
accordance with Article 61.
    Article 61 establishes that if a State has two or more 
territorial units in which different systems of law are 
applicable in relation to maintenance matters under the 
Convention, it may declare that the Convention will extend to 
all of its territorial units, or only to one or more of those 
units. The declaration may be modified at any time. Article 
61(3) further directs that if a State makes no declaration 
under this Article, the Convention shall presumptively extend 
to all territorial units of the State. Article 61(4) clarifies 
that this Article does not apply to a REIO. It is recommended 
that the United States declare that the Convention will extend 
to the jurisdictions participating in Title IV-D of the Social 
Security Act (i.e., all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 
Guam, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands). The 
Convention would therefore not extend to American Samoa, the 
Northern Marianas or any other U.S. territory that does not 
participate in Title IV-D.
    Article 62 governs reservations. A State may make one or 
more reservations provided for in Articles 2(2) (limiting the 
application of the Convention to children under the age of 18); 
20(2) (excluding certain bases of mandatory jurisdiction for 
recognition and enforcement, such as creditor's residence and 
private agreement); 30(8) (reserving the right not to recognize 
and enforce maintenance arrangements); 44(3) (objecting to the 
use of either French or English in certain communications 
between Central Authorities; and 55(3) (objecting to the 
amendment of a mandatory form). No other reservation is 
permitted. Article 62(4) provides that reservations have no 
reciprocal effect with the exception of the reservation 
provided for in Article 2(2) (limitation of Central Authority 
cooperation to persons under the age of 18).
    It is recommended that the United States ratify the 
Convention subject to the following reservations:

          ``Pursuant to Articles 20(2) and 62, the United 
        States makes a reservation to Article 20(1)(c), (e), 
        and (f).''
          ``Pursuant to Article 44(3), the United States makes 
        a reservation objecting to the use of French.''

    Article 63 governs declarations. A State may make a 
declaration referred to in Articles 2(3) (extending of the 
Convention to maintenance obligations other than child 
support); 11(1)(g) (specifying additional information or 
documentation to be included with an application); 16(1) 
(declaring that it will subject the provision of free legal 
assistance to a means test based on the means of the child); 
24(1) (declaring that it will apply Article 24's alternative 
procedure for recognition and enforcement); 30(7) (declaring 
that applications for recognition and enforcement must be made 
through Central Authorities); 44(1) (stating that no 
translation of documents is required), and (2) (declaring, for 
States with more than one official language, which language 
must be used for which parts of its territory); 59(3) (a REIO 
declaring that it exercises sole competence over all matters 
governed by the Convention and that the REIO speaks for all of 
its Members that have transferred competency with respect to 
the matter in question); and 61(1) (a non-unified State 
specifying the territorial units to which the Convention 
applies).
    It is recommended that the United States ratify the 
Convention subject to the following declaration:

          ``Pursuant to Articles 61 and 63, the United States 
        declares that the Convention shall extend to all 50 
        U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto 
        Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.''

    Article 64 provides that a Contracting State may denounce 
the Convention by a notification in writing to the depositary. 
Such denunciation shall take effect on the first day of the 
month following the expiration of 12 months after the 
notification is received by the depositary, unless the 
denunciation specifies a longer period of time.
    Article 65 explains that the depositary must notify the 
members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, 
and other Contracting States of the following: (a) the 
signatures, ratifications, acceptances, and approvals referred 
to in Articles 58 and 59; (b) the accessions and objections 
raised to accessions referred to in Article 58(5); (c) the date 
on which the Convention enters into force in accordance with 
Article 60; (d) the declarations referred to in Articles 2(3), 
11(1)(g), 16(1), 24(1), 44(1) and (2), 58(5), 59(3), and 61(1); 
(e) the agreements referred to in Article 51(2); (f) the 
reservations referred to in Articles 2(2), 20(2), 30(8), 44(3), 
and 55(3), and the withdrawals referred to in Article 62(2); 
and (g) the denunciations referred to in Article 64.

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