Should I pay child support if my ex moves abroad with our child?

Moving to another country is a huge decision which also comes with a vast amount of administration. If you have a child and pay maintenance, then it is important to make sure you are aware of what impact the move has on payment of child support. Every parent has a legal duty to support their children until at least the age of 16, and longer if they are in full-time education. But do you still have to pay for a child who moves abroad with your ex? And if so, how is this enforced? Read on to find out more.

If you have issues regarding your children and you need legal advice, contact specialist family solicitor Mark Heptinstall of Slater Heelis Solicitors. He is recognised as a ‘Leading Individual’ in The Legal 500 and ranked in Chambers UK, and is described as having “the amazing ability to bring calm into troubled waters”.

Do I still have to pay child maintenance if my child and ex move abroad?

If you are paying child support via the Child Maintenance Service (CMS), then if your child and ex move abroad, any maintenance you were previously ordered to pay is no longer payable. This is because the CMS is unable to make decisions about child maintenance, where the child or receiving parent live overseas.

However, that may be not the end of the matter. The receiving parent can instead make a child maintenance application in the country in which they now reside, although this will also depend on the laws of that particular country. If you fail to pay child maintenance ordered abroad, and that country has entered into a “REMO” agreement with the UK, then the receiving parent can apply to a court in England and Wales to take enforcement action.

What is a REMO agreement?

REMO stands for Reciprocal Enforcement Maintenance Order and is an international agreement between different countries that can help a parent living outside the UK to claim or enforce child maintenance from a parent still living in the UK. The effectiveness of the REMO process is likely to vary depending on the laws in the reciprocating country. You can find an extensive list of over 100 REMO countries on the website.

My child and my ex live abroad. Do I still have to pay child maintenance in accordance with the CMS?

If there is a REMO agreement with the country where your child and the receiving parent are living, then if you do not make the necessary payments, the receiving parent can apply for a foreign maintenance agreement in that country. The maintenance order can then be enforced through REMO within the UK. The child maintenance assessment would not be in accordance with the CMS, but with the maintenance obligations of the country in which your child is living.

What happens if the receiving parent lives in a non-REMO country?

If the receiving parent lives with the child in a country that does not have a REMO agreement with the UK, such as Russia, China, or the UAE, for example,  then the ability to enforce an order will depend solely on the laws of that country.


What happens if the paying parent lives abroad?

It can prove difficult to enforce payment if the paying parent lives abroad, as the CMS can only enforce child maintenance payments against someone if they live in the UK. There are exceptions to this rule, and if the paying parent falls under one of the following categories, enforcement is possible if they:

  • Work abroad in the service of the Crown, such as a civil servant
  • Are a member of the armed forces
  • Work overseas for a UK based company which pays via a UK payroll and is registered under the Companies Act 1985
  • Work overseas on secondment for certain organisations such as a health trust or local council.

If the paying parent does not fall into one of the above categories and has stopped making payments, the receiving parent must seek a child maintenance order through the family court and then enquire whether the paying parent lives in a REMO country.

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