Collecting Child Support From A Spouse Living Abroad

Collecting Child Support From A Spouse Living Abroad

by May 8, 2019Child Support

It’s an unfortunate reality that some ex-spouses will go to great lengths to avoid paying child support. Whether it’s being deliberately unemployed, misrepresenting income, or just outright refusing to pay – judges have seen and heard it all. But what if your former spouse leaves the country and stops paying child support? Is there anything you can do?

Leaving the United States is, more or less, the “nuclear option” for avoiding child support. If your ex-spouse moves to another country, it may be extremely difficult for you to enforce a child support order.

While there are a handful of avenues you can pursue to collect child support from an ex-spouse living abroad, you should prepare yourself for the likelihood that you’ll never see any money from them again.

International Child Support Agreements

This may come as a surprise, but the United States has reciprocal agreements with several foreign countries to help enforce child support orders. Enforcement is handled through the Office of Child Support Enforcement in Washington, DC.

The countries currently participating in child support enforcement agreements include:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Czech Republic
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic

In addition to participation at the federal level, states may have additional agreements with other countries individually. California, for example, has reciprocal agreements with Mexico, New Zealand, Bermuda, and South Africa. These agreements are part of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA).

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Countries Without Child Support Agreements

If your ex-spouse moves to a country without a child support agreement with the United States, your chances of collecting child support diminish substantially.

While not impossible, just locating your ex-spouse may prove difficult. Many foreign countries have privacy laws that make giving out personal information like phone numbers and addresses illegal. You might be able to hire a local private investigator to look for your ex-spouse, but that could end up costing you more than what you’re owed in child support.

Working With Your Attorney

Whether your former spouse is living in a country with a child support agreement or not, you’re going to need the help of an experienced attorney to help navigate the legal system.

Enforcing child support agreements is complicated enough without the added difficulty of a spouse living abroad. Make sure whichever attorney you work with gives you a realistic point of view about your chances of receiving any money from your ex-spouse. Attorneys that promise they can help you collect child support regardless of where your ex lives are likely to take your money and not deliver.

To learn more about enforcing child support, or to schedule a free consultation about your case, please contact our offices today.


At Vonder Haar Law Offices, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 529-3200.

We provide representation in California State and Federal Courts. We accept most major credit cards for your convenience.

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