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3 FAQs on international child maintenance

  1. Do I still have to pay child maintenance if I move abroad?

The starting point is that the Child Maintenance Service will usually only have jurisdiction within the United Kingdom – or in other words England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, there are a few circumstances where the paying parent can still fall within the jurisdiction of the CMS, whilst living abroad, and these are listed below:

  • The paying parent is working abroad in the service of the Crown, for example, is a civil servant or works within Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service or within Her Majesty’s overseas civil service;
  • The paying parent is a member of the Armed Forces;
  • The paying parent works abroad for a UK based company. For example, if the company employs people to work outside the UK but makes payments via a UK payroll and the company is registered under the Companies Act 1985 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, it is likely to be considered a UK based company for the purpose of child maintenance;
  • The paying parent works abroad on secondment for certain organisations, such as a Health Trust or local Council.

If any of the above circumstances apply, the Child Maintenance Service will have the ability to assess and collect child maintenance from the paying parent, even if they are living abroad.

If the paying parent lives abroad and does not fall into one of the above categories, the receiving parent can still pursue child maintenance payments through the Family Court. There is more detail in relation to this below.

  1. What is a REMO?

A REMO is a Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Order. The UK has REMO arrangements with over 100 countries. The benefit of this arrangement is that a maintenance Order made by the Family Court of England & Wales can be enforced in any of the participating countries. A list of the countries where a UK maintenance order can be enforced can be found here.

In order to apply for maintenance from a non-resident parent who lives abroad, the receiving parent may need to make an application to Court for a child maintenance order (unless there is an existing maintenance decision) which can then be enforced through REMO. We can assist in this process and we frequently liaise with family law specialists in a foreign state to deal with enforcement.

  1. My child and the other parent live outside of the UK. Do I have to pay child maintenance in accordance with the CMS?

If there is a REMO agreement with the country where your child and the receiving parent live, the receiving parent can apply for a foreign maintenance order in that country. This maintenance order could then be enforced through REMO within the UK. The assessment would not be in accordance with the Child Maintenance Service, but with the maintenance obligations in the other country. It would be good practice to check whether the country in question has a REMO agreement, to ascertain whether a maintenance order could be enforced in the UK against the paying parent.

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