The U.S. government has negotiated federal- level reciprocity arrangements with several countries on behalf of U.S. jurisdictions. If a parent who owes child support lives in one of the 26 countries, that country will assist the U.S. in working the case, and vice versa. These countries are formally called Foreign Reciprocating Countries or FRC.

I have had cases abroad with the custodial parents living in Norway, India, Philippines, Canada, and the U.K. and the noncustodial parent residing in the U.S. Norway, Canada, and the U.K are FRC members. However, depending on the country and the custodial parent, there could be a strong “push” for the U.S. to participate in establishing and enforcing a parentage and child support order even if the country is not a member of the FRC. I have an ongoing case like this in Arizona in which father resides in AZ and mother lives in India.

If the noncustodial parent lives in a FRC, there is a government agency in that country called a Central Authority who assists in processing cases. You can apply for child support services in the U.S. state where you live and the state child support agency will work the case directly with the country.

How do you get support when the person owing support does not live in a FRC, but you think your state has reciprocity with that country? Some states in the U.S. have negotiated a state-level arrangement with countries. If your state does have reciprocity with the country, the state agency will work directly with the country.

Now the question becomes, what if the person owing child support does not live in a country with either federal or state reciprocity? In most cases, if there is no reciprocity, state child support agencies are not able to assist.  You may choose to hire private legal counsel in the other country to file a case and referrals by attorneys or U.S. State Department website on foreign attorneys may provide helpful information.

What if the debtor lives in a foreign country, but works for a U.S. company or has assets in the U.S. You could request an attorney and/or contact your child support agency to see if it is possible to use income withholding orders or other legal remedies.

If the person owing support lives in the U.S., the person owed the support lives outside the U.S. and the child support order is from a third country. If the order is from a federal or state level reciprocating country, the state agency may assist but if it is from a non-reciprocating country, it will be difficult to enforce in the U.S.

Child support cases involving foreign countries are particularly challenging. Constitutional rights such as due process to be given notice are material and critical to the validity of an order.  Whether a federal or state level reciprocity with the country is the central question and depending on the answer makes establishment and enforcement of the child support order easier or next to being impossible.  Any further inquiries, please contact me directly at [email protected] or visit my website,