Could an Ongoing Family Law Debate in Idaho Have Global Implications?

A unique family law issue is currently playing out in the state of Idaho that has implications not just for the Gem State, but for the U.S., the European Union, and at least 32 other nations.

What exactly is this unique family law issue?

A few weeks ago, Idaho’s House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee voted 9-8 in the waning hours of the legislative session to table (i.e., decline to send to the full chamber for a vote) a bill that would essentially provide the state’s approval of a multinational treaty making it easier to enforce child support obligations around the world.

Why does Idaho’s take on this treaty even matter?

The treaty, drafted by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, essentially mandates that all signatory nations will enforce child support judgments made in one another’s court systems.

While the U.S. is one of these signatory nations, it cannot technically ratify the treaty until all 50 states grant their approval. To date, 19 have already done so.

Why did Idaho lawmakers vote to table the measure?

According to political insiders, the actions of the above-mentioned committee can be traced largely to two factors, the first of which is the state’s history of political independence, which generally resents orders from the federal government.

The second factor, say, experts, is a concern among state lawmakers that the child support treaty will require Idaho courts to enforce decisions made by foreign tribunals with which it might not agree.

What happens if Idaho doesn’t approve the treaty?

If state lawmakers fail to pass the measure, Idaho’s child welfare system would lose $16 million in vital federal funding, while an additional $30 million in federal funding could similarly disappear.

What happens now?

Governor C.L. Otter called a special session, the first in nine years, to address only this issue. Here, the goal is for state lawmakers to hammer out some sort of acceptable arrangement that results in them ratifying the treaty.

Stay tuned for updates on this developing and fascinating story …