Enforcement when a parent lives outside UK

Child Maintenance Service (CMS) usually deals with a child maintenance application if both parents and the child live in the UK. But there are some exceptions. If a paying parent (non-resident parent, 2003 scheme) works or lives abroad, you may also be able to get help through the courts.

When a paying/non-resident parent works abroad

If the paying parent (non-resident parent, 2003 scheme) works abroad, CMS may be able to help deal with, and enforce, child maintenance decisions if they are working for certain UK-based organisations.

These include when the paying parent (non-resident parent, 2003 scheme):  

  • is working abroad in the service of the Crown, for example, is a civil servant or works within Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service or within Her Majesty's overseas civil service
  • is a member of the Armed Forces
  • works abroad for a UK based company, for example, it employs people to work outside the UK but makes payments via a UK payroll; and the company is registered under the Companies Act 1985 (England, Wales and Scotland) or the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986
  • works abroad on secondment for certain organisations for example, a Health Trust or local Council

You can get more advice from CMS about whether these rules apply to you.

When a paying/non-resident parent lives outside the UK

If the paying parent (non-resident parent, 2003 scheme) lives abroad and does not fall into one of the categories above, then the receiving parent (parent with care, 2003 scheme) can apply to the courts for child maintenance.

If you need help with getting the maintenance money, you should contact the Northern Ireland Court Service. It is responsible for Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMOs) which enforce child maintenance orders, internationally.

The UK has REMOs with a number of countries around the world. This means that UK maintenance orders (made by UK courts on behalf of UK residents) can be registered and enforced by the courts in REMO countries.

The UK has no authority to make foreign courts or agencies enforce maintenance orders.

If the paying partner (non-resident parent, 2003 scheme) lives in a country that has a REMO agreement with the UK, you can apply to:

  • enforce an existing maintenance decision
  • make a new maintenance decision
  • make changes to an existing maintenance decision

When a receiving/non-resident parent lives outside the UK

If you live abroad and you want to get child maintenance payments from the paying partner (non-resident parent, 2003 scheme) who lives in the UK, you can apply to:

  • enforce an existing maintenance decision
  • make changes to an existing maintenance decision
  • make a new maintenance decision

How you apply depends on where the original child maintenance decision was made and where you live. You may be able to use the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) system if you live in a ‘REMO country’.

If you don't, you should get legal advice from a solicitor in the country where you live or a UK-based solicitor.

When the paying/non-resident parent lives in Australia

If you are the paying parent and you live in Australia and the receiving parent (parent with care, 2003 scheme) lives in the UK, the Australian Child Support Agency may be able to accept an application to assess maintenance.

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