Reciprocal enforcement of maintenance orders FAQs

What is Reciprocal Enforcement of a Maintenance Order?

Reciprocal enforcement is an arrangement by international agreement that provides for the recovery of maintenance from someone living abroad. Similarly, a person living abroad can claim maintenance from someone living in the Scotland. There are a number of international agreements between countries which provide for the recovery of maintenance. The main agreements were incorporated into UK law by the Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972. Since then the 1972 Act has been extended to apply to a number of countries such as the Republic of Ireland, the United States of America and a number of countries referred to as 'Hague Convention countries'.

Who acts as the Central Authority for Scotland?

The Minister for Justice acts as the Central Authority for Scotland and his functions are supported by the EU and International Law Division of the Scottish Government's Justice Department. Central Authority staff will offer assistance to maintenance claimants and will give general advice about the steps that can be taken to recover maintenance from abroad. See guidance on Scottish Government website.

What do you do if you live in Scotland and wish to obtain maintenance from someone living abroad?

If you already have a Scottish court order for maintenance* it may be possible to have it registered abroad for enforcement. As a first step you should contact the court where the order was made. If the payer lives in a country that has an international agreement with Scotland the court will arrange for the necessary documents to be sent to the EU and International Law Division for onward transmission abroad.

If you do not have an existing court order you may be able to apply to your local sheriff court for a new maintenance order, or for a provisional maintenance order, depending on the country concerned. You will need to speak to a solicitor if you want use these procedures. However, you can use the contact numbers below for advice on the options available to you before contacting a solicitor.

Alternatively, you may be able to start proceedings in a court in another country using application forms provided by EU and International Law Division. If you wish to use this method please use the contact numbers given below.

The speed and manner in which a claim is dealt with abroad depends on the internal procedures of the country involved. The Scottish Government cannot provide advice on how long it might take to process a claim.

* If you have a Scottish court order for maintenance you do not need to be living in Scotland if you want to enforce it abroad.

Further information can be obtained from the Scottish Government's Website here

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