REMO stands for Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders and it is essentially an international agreement between countries to help recover child maintenance from parents living in different countries.
Because of the international system, REMO can help both parents living in England (and the other parent has moved abroad) and if you are living abroad (and the paying parent lives in England). This is on the basis that both countries are participating countries – full list below.
The first step is to find out where the Central Authority is in the country where you live. All applications must go through this Central Authority. The Central Authority is in England is at: The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Unit (REMO), Victory House, 30-34 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6EX.
You can find this list of reciprocating countries and their Central Authority addresses here
Once you know where your Central Authority is, you need to make an application for ‘registration and enforcement of your order’. The precise form and details you need to provide will vary from country to country.
Your application will need to be supported by documentation i.e. your original court order and details of any steps you have taken to try to obtain payment from the person directly. It will also be helpful for the application to include details of where you think the paying parent lives and works. The more information the better. If any of your documents are not in the language of the court who will be asked to deal with enforcing the decision, you will need to obtain a translation. Your Central Authority may be able to do this for you for free so check with them first.
Registering and applying to enforce your order is very important step that must be done correctly. If it is not, the court will not have the power to obtain payment from the other parent. You can make the application yourself in England (with the assistance of REMO) but you may want to consider instructing a specialist family solicitor.
Your Central Authority is likely to require you to obtain a ‘Statement of Enforceability’ from the court that made the original order to send with the application. So contact the court as early as possible about this. You may need to attend in person before a judge to obtain this documentation. Again, you may prefer to instruct a legal professional to assist with this.
You do not have to use a lawyer to access the REMO system at all, but the application process is complex and you may prefer to do so. Even if you do not instruct a lawyer to assist you with the application, it is advisable to instruct a specialist lawyer in the country where the court will hear your application.
Once your court order has been registered, you can proceed as if the country who registered it made the order in the first place. In England, an application to enforce arrears is likely to involve 3 court hearings. The first two are likely to be preliminary / ‘directions’ hearings at which the court determines what further evidence is needed from the parties – for example disclosure of P60s or tax returns or witness statements. Eventually a Final Hearing will be listed and the court will determine whether or not money is owed and, if so, how much.
If you are successful in enforcing your foreign court order in the English courts and you incurred legal costs in doing so, it would be advisable to seek a Cost Order against the person who was not paying. Whether or not you can obtain a Cost Order at the end of REMO case will depend on the specific rules of the country enforcing the order.
If your ex-partner has issued a REMO application against you, it is important that you take action. You may have been making payment, or not realised you needed to make a payment but it is important not to ignore any proceedings served on you. If you do, the court can make a decision in your absence and may even put a charge against your property or obtain money directly from your salary. Here at Raydens we have experience in representing both those looking to make applications and those defending them.
If you would like to discuss your circumstances in relation to any of the issues raised in this article please contact us.