Update Concerning Idaho’s Passage of International Child Support Treaty

Last week, we discussed how the recent decision of a House Committee in Idaho not only threatened the fate of a long-awaited and carefully structured international treaty on child support but also the state’s child welfare system.

To recap, the Idaho House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee recently rejected a bill that would provide the state’s approval of a treaty drafted by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, which essentially requires all signatory nations to enforce child support obligations created in their respective court systems.

In rejecting the treaty, which must be approved by all 50 states before it can be ratified by Congress, the Idaho lawmakers cited concerns that courts would be required to enforce decisions made by foreign courts that were otherwise inconsistent with state law.

Given that the state’s failure to pass the bill would result in the forfeiture of nearly $46 million in federal funds, including $16 million earmarked for the state’s child welfare system, Governor C.L. Otter called a special session to address only this issue.

In recent developments, the special session proved to be a success, as the state Senate voted to pass a slightly amended bill approving the treaty 33 to 2, while the state House voted to pass the same measure by a margin of 49 to 21.

This slightly amended version basically held that the state would comply with the law, but not enforce those orders otherwise contrary to state law.

During the 12-hour session that preceded the passing of the bill, multiple lawmakers aired their grievances with the federal government, which they argued failed to answer privacy- and security-related questions concerning the treaty, and coerced state approval by threatening to withhold funds.

Gov. Otter signed has already signed the bill, meaning the fate of the treaty is no longer in jeopardy … for now. Indeed, it remains to be seen whether similar challenges emerge in other states or if a legal challenge is filed. Stay tuned for developments from our divorce and family law blog.