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How Can You Enforce a Child Support Order if the Obligated Parent Lives in Another Country?


When the non-custodial parent lives in another country, it can be difficult to enforce a child support order if the parent refuses or fails to pay. However, there may be ways to make the obligated parent pay child support even if they are outside the United States.

Enforcing International Child Support Orders

The United States has signed agreements with many foreign countries in order to help American parents enforce child support orders outside the U.S. If the U.S. has an agreement with the country where your ex-spouse lives following the divorce, you may be able to enforce an existing child support order through the Secretary of State or the United States Department of State.

Also, individual states have their own agreements with countries, even if the United States does not have any treaties with that country. If the other parent, who is obligated to pay child support, lives in a country that does not have an agreement with the United States regarding the enforcement of child support orders, it may be necessary to hire an attorney to assist you with locating the obligated parent to enforce the existing order.

Locating the Obligated Parent in Another Country

In order to locate your ex-spouse who refuses or fails to pay child support in another country, you may need to hire an attorney in that country. In order to locate the obligated parent and have the child support order enforced, you will need to provide as much information as possible to help an attorney locate your former partner.

If possible, you should provide the following information to the Department of Revenue or the Child Support Enforcement Unit in Florida:

  • The obligated parent’s new address in another country;
  • Their place of employment;
  • Information about their property in another country; and
  • Whether your ex-spouse works for an American or foreign company.

If your attorney’s efforts to locate your former spouse are successful, the parent’s international employer may withhold wages from their paycheck.

Locating the Non-Custodial Parent and Privacy Laws

Some non-custodial parents who were ordered to pay child support to the custodial parents choose to move to another country for the sole purpose of avoiding making payments. In some situations, the custodial parent may not know where the obligated parent moved or whether he or she is outside the United States.

In such cases, it might make sense to go to U.S. embassies to check whether the obligated parent has registered with a U.S. consulate or embassy in another country. However, a parent may be unable to get specific information about the obligated parent’s whereabouts because such information is protected by privacy laws.

If the obligated parent is in the military, enforcing the child support order can be a straightforward process. In that case, all you need to do is ask the military to enforce the judgment through the Child Support Enforcement Unit or the Department of Revenue.

If the obligated parent is still in the U.S., but you fear or have reason to believe that they could leave the country, there are legal procedures for prohibiting obligated parents from leaving the country. However, the prohibition on leaving the U.S. is applicable when a parent owes $4,000 or more in child support.

Contact Greater Orlando Family Law if the obligated parent is in another country and fails or refuses to pay child support. Our Orlando child support attorneys may be able to help you enforce the support order or assist you with locating your former spouse. Call at 407-377-6399 for a case evaluation.


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