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Daniel Eames: The New Hague Maintenance Convention

Date:28 APR 2008

Daniel Eames Solicitor, Clarke Willmott

The international enforcement of financial orders is currently a patchwork of conventions, regulations and reciprocal agreements. The appropriate legislation depends not only on what one is trying to enforce - ie lump sum or maintenance - but also on where the payer or their assets are located. After 4 years of negotiations at the Hague, we now have the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other forms of Family Maintenance (the Convention). The Convention was signed on 23 November 2007 by 57 members (including the EU and the US, and a number of countries with whom England and Wales currently have no reciprocal arrangements such as Russia, Japan and China) and 13 further states (including Iran) plus the Holy See participating as observers. As well as a wide membership, the Convention has some significant aids to enforcement which are currently without parallel (although the proposed EU Regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations proposes more wide-ranging measures).

It is important to note, however, that the Convention still needs to be ratified by the various signatories and therefore it will be some years before it has the coverage envisaged (the UK, for instance, took several years to ratify the Hague Convention on Maintenance 1973 and generally not every Convention has been ratified by its signatories). Also, each signatory may make reservations, for example, limiting the age of dependants to whom child support can apply (18 rather than 21), the bases for recognition and enforcement, and excluding the enforcement of maintenance arrangements, but these reservations only apply to a restricted number of Articles.

In this article, Daniel Eames examines and summarises the main provisions of the Convention.

For the full article, see April [2008] Family Law journal.