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Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders

Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) is the process by which maintenance orders made by UK courts on behalf of UK residents can be registered and enforced by courts or other authorities in other countries against people resident there.

Reciprocal arrangement

A reciprocal arrangement is governed by international conventions, which means that foreign maintenance orders in favour of individuals abroad can likewise be registered and enforced by UK courts against UK residents.

The precise nature of reciprocity available between the UK and another jurisdiction depends on the convention or agreement to which the other country is a signatory.

How to apply

A UK resident who wishes to apply to obtain maintenance from a person overseas should approach:

  • their local magistrates' court (or county court where the order was made) if they have an existing court order for maintenance
  • their local magistrates' court if there is no existing order

They may apply for their order to be enforced in the country where the payer resides. Procedures also exist to enable an applicant to ask the foreign authorities to create an order for maintenance on their behalf.

There is no need for the applicant to engage a solicitor. Court staff will help the applicant and will forward the application to the relevant authority.

The authority will check that the application is in order and send it to the foreign authority or court for registration and enforcement against the person living there.

The role of the REMO Section in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Court Service handles REMO applications between Northern Ireland and foreign jurisdictions.

Enforcement

The application abroad will be enforced according to the laws that prevail in the foreign country. The UK authorities have no power to compel foreign courts or authorities to enforce maintenance orders, or to set a timescale for enforcement, as the system is based on mutual agreement.

Every effort is made however, to encourage foreign agencies to abide by their countries' international obligations.

UK legislation

The Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972 is the primary legislation under which the REMO process operates in the UK. There have also been several Statutory Instruments since 1972 to adjust the precise arrangements between the UK and other countries, or to allow additional jurisdictions to be considered reciprocating countries.

Conventions and other Agreements

The UK is a signatory to several international conventions on maintenance obligations, such as:

  • the 1956 United Nations Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance
  • the 1968 Brussels Convention on Jurisdiction and the Enforcement of Judgements in Civil and Commercial Matters
  • the 1973 Hague Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Decisions Relating to Maintenance Obligations

In addition, the UK has agreements for maintenance enforcement with most members of the Commonwealth, with the Republic of Ireland, and with most of the United States of America.

List of REMO reciprocating countries

Country Country Country Country Country
Algeria Czech Republic Ireland New Zealand South Africa
Anguilla Denmark Isle of Man Nigera Spain
Antigua and Barbuda Dominica Israel Nigeria Sri Lanka
Austria Falkland Islands Italy Norfolk Island Surinam
Australia Fiji Jamaica Norway Swaziland
Barbados Finland Jersey Pakistan Sweden
Belize France Kenya Papua New Guinea Switzerland
Belgium Gambia Kiribati Philippines Tanzania
Bermuda Germany Lesotho Poland Trinidad and Tobago
Bosnia and Herzegovina Ghana Luxembourg Portugal Tunisia
Botswana Gibraltar Macedonia Romania Turkey
Brazil Greece Malawi St. Helena Turks and Caicos Island
Brunei Grenada Malaysia St. Kitts and Nevis Tuvalu
Burkina Faso Guatemala Malta St. Lucia United States
(excluding Alabama, Mississippi,
South Carolina and District of Columbia)
Canada (not Quebec) Guernsey Mauritius St. Vincent Uruguay
Cape Verde Guyana Mexico Seychelles Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands Haiti Monaco Sierra Leone Zambia
Central African Republic Hong Kong Montserrat Singapore Zimbabwe
Chile Hungary Morocco Slovakia
Croatia Iceland Nauru Slovenia
Cyprus India Netherlands Solomon Islands