REMO stands for Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders and it is essentially an international agreement between countries to help recover child maintenance from parents who live in different countries.
REMO can help parents living in England or Wales (when the other parent has moved abroad) and if a parent is living abroad (and the paying parent lives in England or Wales). This is on the strict basis that both countries are participating REMO countries.
Before beginning the REMO process you must first ensure that you have a child maintenance order (or equivalent) that you can enforce. The aim of the REMO system is for reciprocating countries to enforce the child maintenance order you have as if a court in that country had made the order itself. It sounds straightforward but the REMO system can be complex and slow.
The first stage is to find out where the ‘Central Authority’ is in the country where you live. All applications must go through this Central Authority. The Central Authority in England is at: The Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders Unit (REMO), Victory House, 30-34 Kingsway, London, WC2B 6EX. You can find the list of reciprocating countries and their Central Authority addresses here: https://www.hcch.net/en/states/authorities
Once you know where your Central Authority is, you need to make an application for ‘registration and enforcement of your order’. The precise form and details you need to provide will vary from country to country.
Your application will need to be supported by documentation i.e. your original court order and details of any steps you have taken to try to obtain payment from the paying parent directly. It will also be helpful for the application to include details of where you think the paying parent lives and works. The more information the better. If any of your documents are not in the language of the court who will be asked to deal with enforcing the decision, you will need to obtain a translation.
Registering and applying to enforce your order is a very important step that must be done correctly. If it is not, the court will not have the power to obtain payment from the other parent. You can make the application yourself in England or Wales (with the assistance of REMO) but you may want to consider instructing a specialist family solicitor to ensure this is done correctly.
Your Central Authority is likely to require you to obtain a ‘Statement of Enforceability’ from the court that made the original order to send with the application. So, contact the court as early as possible about this. You may need to attend in person before a judge to obtain this documentation. Again, you may prefer to instruct a specialist family solicitor to assist with this.
You do not have to use a lawyer to access the REMO system, but the application process can be complex and confusing. Even if you do not instruct a lawyer to assist you with the application, it is advisable to instruct a specialist lawyer in the country where the court will hear your application to ensure that you are best represented at any court hearings.
Once your court order has been registered in the reciprocating REMO country (this can take many months), you can proceed as if that country made the order in the first place. In England or Wales, an application to enforce the order and deal with any arrears is likely to involve 3 separate court hearings. The first two will be preliminary ‘directions’ hearings at which the court determines what further evidence is needed from the parties – for example disclosure of P60s, tax returns or witness statements. Eventually a Final Hearing will be listed (at which you may need to give evidence) and the court will determine whether or not money is owed and, if so, how much. The court may also use its powers to ensure payment is made. For example, in England and Wales the court has the power to put a charge on someone’s property or make an ‘attachment of earnings order’ (where the court can obtain payment directly from someone’s employer). The power the court has to obtain funds for you will depend on which country is dealing with your REMO application.
If you are successful in enforcing your court order and you incurred legal costs in doing so, it would be advisable to seek a cost order against the other parent. Whether or not you can obtain a cost order at the end of REMO case will depend on the specific rules of the country enforcing the order and the specific circumstances of your case, but it is always something to request.
Edwards Family Law is a niche London-based firm specialising in complex family law cases. To find out more about enforcement of maintenance orders, please phone +44 (0)20 3983 1818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence.