Posted on August 19, 2023

Foreign Child Support Orders In Illinois

People live all over the world…and sometimes they end up in Illinois. If parents were able to obtain a child support order in foreign country, that child support order may be enforced or even modified in Illinois.

Orders from foreign countries can be observed in Illinois based on the principle of comity.

Comity is “a recognition which one nation allows within its territory to the legislative, executive or judicial acts of another nation, having due regard both to the international duty and convenience and to the rights of its own citizens who are under the protection of its laws.” Clubb v. Clubb, 402 Ill. 390, 399-400, 84 N.E.2d 366 (1949)(emphasis mine)

Comity applies to foreign child support orders if certain conditions are met.

“The traditional common-law principles of comity allow Illinois courts to enforce the terms of a child support order entered in the courts of a foreign nation, absent some showing of fraud in the procurement of the judgment or that recognition of the judgment would do violence to some strong public policy of this state.” In re Parentage of A.H., 2023 IL App (1st) 190572

Comity recognition of a foreign child support order is always optional and decided by the local court in Illinois

“Under the doctrine of comity, Illinois courts may choose to recognize support orders issued by foreign courts, although recognition may be withheld where the foreign court lacked jurisdiction over the cause and the parties” In re Marriage of Kohl, 778 NE 2d 1169 – Ill: Appellate Court, 1st Dist., 2nd Div. 2002

Not all countries’ child support laws will be recognized by an Illinois domestic relations court.

“Foreign country” means a country, including a political subdivision thereof, other than the United States, that authorizes the issuance of support orders and:(A) which has been declared under the law of the United States to be a foreign reciprocating country;(B) which has established a reciprocal arrangement for child support with this State as provided in Section 308;(C) which has enacted a law or established procedures for the issuance and enforcement of support orders which are substantially similar to the procedures under this Act; or(D) in which the Convention is in force with respect to the United States.” 750 ILCS 22/102(5)

There really aren’t too many “reciprocating countries.”

Only 45 countries are members of the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance, also referred to as the Hague Maintenance Convention or the Hague Child Support Convention.

The countries party to the Hague Child Support Convention are: Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Botswana, Bosnia and Herzogovina, Brazil, Ecuador, European Union (that is 27 countries total), Guyana, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Not even Canada is on the list of child support reciprocating countries.

If a child support order is NOT from the countries on the above list…you will have to prove thatthe country “has enacted a law or established procedures for the issuance and enforcement of support orders which are substantially similar to the procedures under this Act750 ILCS 22/102(5)(d)

That is going to require an expert witness who can speak to the country-in-question’s child support laws.

The problem is that most countries outside of the Hague Child Support Convention do not determine child support using an acceptable tribunal.

“”Foreign support order” means a support order of a foreign tribunal.” 750 ILCS 22/102(6)

“”Foreign tribunal” means a court, administrative agency, or quasi-judicial entity of a foreign country which is authorized to establish, enforce, or modify support orders or to determine parentage of a child.” 750 ILCS 22/102(7)

Most foreign countries issue child support orders automatically not via a court process. Those orders will not be enforceable in Illinois.

Once you have determined that the foreign child support order is viable, it may be registered in an Illinois court using the following procedure:

“[A] support order or income-withholding order of another state or a foreign support order may be registered in this State by sending the following records to the appropriate tribunal in this State: (1) a letter of transmittal to the tribunal requesting registration and enforcement; (2) 2 copies, including one certified copy, of the order to be registered, including any modification of the order; (3) a sworn statement by the person requesting registration or a certified statement by the custodian of the records showing the amount of any arrearage;(4) the name of the obligor and, if known; (A) the obligor’s address and social security number; (B) the name and address of the obligor’s employer and any other source of income of the obligor; and (C) a description and the location of property of the obligor in this State not exempt from execution; and (5) except as otherwise provided in Section 312, the name and address of the blige and, if applicable, the person to whom support payments are to be remitted.

On receipt of a request for registration, the registering tribunal shall cause the order to be filed as an order of a tribunal of another state or a foreign support order , together with one copy of the documents and information, regardless of their form.” 750 ILCS 22/602(a),(b)

Once registered, the foreign child support order may be enforced.

“A registered support order issued in another state or a foreign country is enforceable in the same manner and is subject to the same procedures as an order issued by a tribunal of this State.” 750 ILCS 22/603(b)

Even though we are in Illinois, we have to follow the foreign country’s child support laws through the calculation and duration of child support. So, I hope you can read the language of that country’s child support laws.

“[T]he law of the issuing state or foreign country governs: (1) the nature, extent, amount, and duration of current payments under a registered support order; (2) the computation and payment of arrearages and accrual of interest on the arrearages under the support order; and (3) the existence and satisfaction of other obligations under the support order.” 750 ILCS 22/604(a)

That final child support amount will have to be paid in United States dollars. So, a conversion from the original foreign currency must be made.

“If requested to enforce a support order, arrears, or judgment or modify a support order stated in a foreign currency, a responding tribunal of this State shall convert the amount stated in the foreign currency to the equivalent amount in dollars under the applicable official or market exchange rate as publicly reported.” 750 ILCS 22/305(f)

Is A Foreign Child Support Order Modifiable In Illinois?

There is a blanket ban on modification of registered foreign child support orders.

“[A] tribunal of this State shall recognize and enforce, but may not modify, a registered support order if the issuing tribunal had jurisdiction.” 750 ILCS 22/603(c)

You can only modify foreign child support orders in Illinois if the original country has lost jurisdiction.

“[I]f a foreign country lacks or refuses to exercise jurisdiction to modify its child-support order pursuant to its laws, a tribunal of this State may assume jurisdiction to modify the child-support order and bind all individuals subject to the personal jurisdiction of the tribunal” 750 ILCS 22/615

The foreign country loses jurisdiction if the parent receiving child support has left the foreign country. Otherwise, Illinois cannot modify the child support agreement unless the child-support-receiving parent agrees to be bound by Illinois’ laws. Foreign child support orders may be modified if there’s a finding that the foreign country is unable to modify the child support.

“A tribunal of this State may not modify a Convention child-support order if the obligee remains a resident of the foreign country where the support order was issued unless:(1) the obligee submits to the jurisdiction of a tribunal of this State, either expressly or by defending on the merits of the case without objecting to the jurisdiction at the first available opportunity; or(2) the foreign tribunal lacks or refuses to exercise jurisdiction to modify its support order or issue a new support order.” 750 ILCS 22/711

If all these hurdles have been jumped, the foreign child support order may be modified in an Illinois domestic relations court.

“[W]hen…a modifiable child support order of a foreign jurisdiction is enrolled in Illinois under principles of comity, an Illinois court has jurisdiction to modify the support order, just as a court in a foreign jurisdiction could do. In other words, once a foreign judgment is properly enrolled as a domestic support judgment, an Illinois court may entertain and decide an application for enforcement or modification of the support award under section 510 of the Marriage Act (750 ILCS 5/510(a) (West 2016)) and section 802(f) of the Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 (Parentage Act) (750 ILCS 46/802(f) (West 2016))”  In re Parentage of A.H., 2023 IL App (1st) 190572

If you need to enforce or modify a foreign child support order, I am willing to bet that child support is only one of your post-divorce problems. Contact my Chicago, Illinois family law firm today to speak with an experienced Illinois divorce attorney.

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Russell Knight

Russell D. Knight has been practicing family law as a Chicago divorce lawyer since 2006. Russell D. Knight amicably resolves tough cases while remaining a strong advocate for his client’s interests.

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