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Do I have to pay child maintenance if my child lives abroad?

Parents have a duty to maintain their children irrespective of the amount of time they spend with them or what country they live in.  However international payment can be difficult to enforce.  Parents cannot enforce an arrangement made informally between them, it must be made legally binding first.

Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO’s) are international agreements between countries which can help parents in the UK recover child maintenance when the other party is living abroad and vice versa.  101 countries currently have an REMO agreement with the UK

If you make a REMO application it will be enforced according to the laws of the country where the paying parent lives. They are not necessary if the paying parent works for a British organisation abroad, as the UK still has authority over these companies and maintenance can be enforced in the UK.

If the non-resident parent lives in the UK and the child lives abroad with the other parent, then maintenance can still be enforced.  The way this is done will depend on which country the agreement was originally made in. If made in the UK, the court where the agreement was made can still enforce payment. If made in the EU or an REMO country, payment can be enforced via REMO.  If the decision was made in a non-REMO country, it can still be enforced but it often takes much longer to obtain agreement between both countries.

If the paying parent lives in the European Union:

  • In EU countries child maintenance can still be paid to a child in the UK
  • If the paying parent works abroad for a BRITISH company then they still have to pay as this can be enforced by British courts
  • If a decision was made by the CSA  when the parent lived in the UK then it can still be enforced (via EU courts) if that parent moves with the child to an EU country
  • However, the resident parent must apply via REMO if the paying parent is independent of Britain entirely
  • If the agreement is made after the paying parent lives in the EU it cannot be enforced by the UK, so the decision will rest with the EU court.

If the paying parent lives outside Australia and the EU:

  • If the country has a REMO agreement with the UK, payment can be enforced
  • However if no agreement exists then, the receiving parent would have to apply via local courts and a payment may be much harder to enforce

If you need advice in relation to child maintenance issues, either in this country or abroad, please contact us.

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