Congressman Rick Berg announced that his bipartisan legislation, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, whichenables states to more effectively collect child support payments from parents living abroad, was unanimously passed by the House today. The legislation also makes other improvements aimed at making it easier for parents to collect child support.
"This bill is about empowering states, which operate the child support enforcement program, to do more to help families, and most importantly, children," stated Berg. "In taking the next step toward ratifying the Hague Convention, states will be able to assist families and children by ensuring they have the same access to financial support even when one parent lives outside the country. This bill also includes a continuation of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee's bipartisan efforts to standardize data and improve the exchange of data within and across human services programs which improves efficiency and saves taxpayer dollars."
Under the current Federal Child Support Enforcement Program, individual states have the option to recognize child support orders from other countries, and many do. Unfortunately, other countries do not always reciprocate the United States' efforts to collect child support from a noncustodial parent living abroad. To address this problem, the United States negotiated and signed the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance in 2007. The Senate gave its consent in 2010, but the United States cannot implement the treaty without enacting implementing legislation.
Berg's legislation, H.R. 4282, provides the necessary implementing legislation and includes two additional no-cost improvements to the Federal Child Support Enforcement Program.
The first improvement continues previous bipartisan efforts of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop standardized data elements to be used in improving the accuracy and administration of child support benefits and services.
Berg's legislation would also grant federally-contracted researchers access to data in the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH) for use in evaluating whether reemployment programs are working as intended. Access to this database will reduce data collection costs and improve the reliability of program evaluations that currently rely on unverified, self-reported income information.
The International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012 is Berg's second piece of legislation to pass House of Representatives since taking office on January 3, 2011. It will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.