Proposed Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other
The document below was released under the OIA.
Please note that the lack of consultation with stakeholders as seen in the document.
Inland Revenue National Office
Freyberg BuildingAitken Street
PO Box 2198 Wellington
Telephone 04-472 1032
Facsimile 04-474 7217
POLICY ADVICE DIVISION
18 August 2004
Associate Minister of Revenue (Hon David Cunliffe)
cc: Minister of Revenue
Proposed Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance
This report provides an update on the Special Commission held in June this year at The Hague to progress a new international agreement for co-operation in the collection of child support and other forms of family maintenance.
The focus of the meeting was the draft convention which had been prepared prior to the Special Commission. During the course of the Commission the draft convention was modified to reflect changes that were discussed. However, significant areas still need to be resolved. These are set out in paragraph 7. A further draft of the convention is expected to be forwarded to government for their consideration early next year, with another Special Commission scheduled for May next year which will aim to finalise the convention.
It is recommended that you note the contents of this report.
Portfolio ManagerPolicy Advice Division
Hon David CunliffeAssociate Minister of Revenue
1. On 23 October 2003 we reported to you on a new convention being proposed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law for international co-operation on the recovery of child support and other forms of family maintenance. (IRD 2003/49 refers) That report followed the first “Special Commission” on this convention in The Hague in May 2003.
2. The Commission referred to in the previous paragraph established a number of working groups. One of these, the Drafting Committee, was chaired by Judge Doogue of the New Zealand Family Court.
3. A further Special Commission was held in The Hague in June this year to progress the convention.
Special Commission of June 2004
4. The Special Commission was from 7 to18 June. It was attended by delegates from over 50 countries and representatives from a number of other interest groups, such as the International Association of Women Judges, the International Bar Association and the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. New Zealand was represented by Judge Doogue and two Inland Revenue officials.
5. Discussions in the first week concentrated on general themes and broad questions of policy on which consensus was still being developed. During the second week the focus was on the draft convention itself, with additions or amendments being made to it arising from the first week’s discussions, or proposed by the Drafting Committee.
6. The majority-of delegates favoured a broad scope for the convention, with many taking the position that any future convention should have the United Nations Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance as a starting point. However, a convention that encompasses anything other than solely child support will pose problems for some countries.
7. While there was total commitment from all delegates to enhancing international co-operation in the collection of child support, there are considerable differences between countries on the provisions of the draft convention. For example, some countries which have only a court-based system to establish child support or maintenance are reluctant, or unable, to accept child support liabilities which, as in New Zealand, are administratively established. Other areas in which considerable further work will be required to reach agreement include:
– the jurisdiction of one country to modify an order made in another country;
– the functions of each country’s Central Authority;
– the extent to which countries will be required to allocate resources in carrying out those functions;
– the provision of legal aid;
– the degree to which assistance will be provided in establishing parentage; and
– what services are to be provided without charge.
8. In areas where agreement cannot be reached, such as countries which can accept only child support liabilities for enforcement, reservations from particular provisions in the convention may be the only way for such countries to become party to it. However, this could result in a mismatch between the assistance such countries receive and the assistance they provide. For example, New Zealand may provide a comprehensive service in locating debtors for a country which is unable to provide such a service in return.
Administrative Co-operation Working Group
9. This Working Group, which includes New Zealand, has been working on: developing model forms to improve the administrative transfer of cases between countries; identifying the information which each country will be asked to prepare on its own system for establishing and collecting child support and/or maintenance; and developing best practice timelines for countries to adhere to when a request for assistance and/or enforcement is received.
10. The Drafting Committee is to meet in October this year to advance work on the draft convention. It expects to present this draft to governments for their consideration early next year.
11. The June 2004 Special Commission gave the previously informal Administrative Cooperation Working Group formal status. The Group is to continue working on the issues outlined in paragraph, together with any other issues it identifies.
12. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Justice and Judge Doogue to ensure that the draft convention meets New Zealand’s needs. We will also consult with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade at the appropriate time.
13. Another Special Commission is scheduled for May of next year at which it is expected that delegates will agree on the form and wording of the convention.
14. The Ministry of Justice has been provided with a copy of this report.