Mom wants support from deadbeat dad in Illinois
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Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I have been to the Family Court and find it strange that I can't get any help. My child's father is living in Illinois, United States. I know his address and I am unable to file for child support. He has not reached out to the child or provided any financial help. Is there anything that can be done?

I understand and feel your frustration which is evident in the contents of your very short letter. It would have been helpful if you had included what you were told when you went to the Family Court for your parish.

You see, when a parent lives in a foreign country, different rules apply when it comes to the application of judgements and orders of Jamaican courts, which can be enforced in them.

In the case of the United States of America, the situation is more complicated, in that the government of Jamaica must enter into negotiations with the individual states of the union to enter into 'Reciprocal Agreements or Arrangements' to enforce each others' judgement or orders.

Without such agreements or arrangements, judgements and orders made in a particular state of the USA or in Jamaica are not enforceable in either place.

This is why I would have liked to know what the clerk you spoke to in the Family Court told you. What I said above should have been explained to you with the concluding fact that there is no such agreement or arrangement between the state of Illinois and Jamaica and that being so, such an application could not be done and filed, because an unenforceable order cannot knowingly be made by a court of law.

There is clearly no reciprocal agreement or arrangement between Jamaica and Illinois, which is why you were unable to file for child support. This should however have been explained to you at the time.

There is nothing the court can do, except if he decides to come back to Jamaica, or moves to a state which has a reciprocal agreement with Jamaica. By staying in Illinois, he would permanently keep himself safe from ever being ordered by a court in Jamaica to maintain his child.

But you do have the option of either going to Illinois and pursuing you application there, where you can obtain the order for maintenance of your child there, or contacting the child support authorities in that state, to see if they can help you from here. Only they can ensure that he meets his obligation to provide for his child.

All the very best.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

Margarette MACAULAY

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