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International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DOGGETT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I am pleased to join my colleague from North Dakota in our truly bipartisan effort on behalf of H.R. 4282, the International Child Support Recovery Improvement Act. He has made an excellent statement regarding the need for this legislation.

International borders should never be barriers to children receiving the financial support that their parents are obligated to provide, nor should a parent be able to avoid their responsibility by just leaving the country. That's why the United States has previously adopted reciprocal agreements with a number of other nations to collect child support from deadbeat parents who do not live in the same country as their children. But these agreements don't cover many nations, and the procedures sometimes vary from nation to nation. A more comprehensive approach is to enter into a broad convention, another type of treaty, to ensure the international collection of child support.

In 2010, the Senate ratified the Hague Convention for the International Recovery of Child Support. Today's bill simply implements the treaty and provides that our child support collection across America fully complies with our treaty obligations. This will assure that more children living in the United States obtain the necessary financial support from a parent living in another country, and it will also protect taxpayers who ought not have to be responsible for covering the expenses when a parent is obligated to do so.

Exemplifying the need for today's bill is the plea of a mother from Houston, who wrote to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement:

Please help me collect child support from my daughter's father in Venezuela. We were married years ago in the United States. It took a long time to finalize the divorce, as he was out of the country. Finally, the divorce went through, which at the time was a relief. But 3 to 4 years later, my daughter is 12 and teenage expenses are kicking in. Regardless of the divorce requirements, he states Venezuela is unable to conduct business with the U.S., and he's unable to send money on his own.

Our bill would provide relief to her and many other families. Child support touches the lives of nearly one in four children across America, securing financial support for almost 18 million children--including a million and a half children in Texas--and it's played an important role in keeping children out of poverty. Without its support, roughly half a million children would have fallen into poverty in 2010.

This bill recognizes the general premise that both parents are responsible for their children.

It would respond to another Texas mother who wrote the same office:

My ex-husband has been working for an international company for nearly 6 years. His income the first year was $100,000. To date, after taxes, he's clearing over $8,000 monthly. Per our court order, I'm only receiving $260 a month, which is now currently on hold. So therefore I'm not receiving any funds from my child support at all. Please help me. I'm making less money since I switched from the night shift to days to be home with my two children. I keep making necessary sacrifices, but I have no one to help me.

That's the kind of individual, the kind of children that would be assisted by this legislation. Passing the act would access financial support from a noncustodial parent living abroad. As with other effective child support initiatives, taxpayers will benefit by not being saddled with the cost of supporting children whose parents should be doing so.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this bill will result in some modest net savings to the child support program. Child support advocates, as Mr. Berg indicated, along with the American Bar Association, the Conference of State Court Administrators, the Conference of Chief Justices, and the National Center for State Courts have all endorsed this legislation. It is truly a bipartisan effort that improves the well-being of many children by ensuring that their parents abroad continue to fulfill their obligations here at home in the United States to their children.


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