An international legislative framework was adopted and reinforced in the 2000s in order to facilitate the recovery of child support in cross-border cases. It put in place rules for recognition and enforcement of decisions as well a system of administrative cooperation using a network of Central Authorities to help applications by claimants. However, obstacles pertaining to distance, language and exchange of paper mail remain. This has consequences in terms of unrecovered child support, which in turn affects the well-being of children.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) realised early that Information Technology (IT) could be used to alleviate these obstacles. Its 2007 Convention on the international recovery of child support explicitly foresees the use of IT. In 2009, HCCH produced a first vision of iSupport as a single electronic tool to service the 2007 Convention and other international instruments. In 2014, a first Action Grant from the European Union and support from 9 States allowed to effectively launch the project. Thanks to a collaborative methodology emphasising consensus, a first fully functioning version of iSupport was released in 2016 and effectively used by two States in a piloting capacity. Consensus-building is also reflected in iSupport’s current governing structure.
Improvements and changes to the iSupport software are continuing, all within a constrained budget, as evidenced for instance by the extensive use of videoconferencing for Working Group and Governing Body meetings. iSupport therefore offers an example of a successful international cooperation to develop a common application that is suitable across different legal systems and traditions. Its flexibility also allows it to be adapted to a variety of needs.
At present, iSupport is still in its taking-off phase and needs more participants to achieve full sustainability (even though as many as 10 States are currently preparing its installation). The increase in the number of users will also help the following benefits to materialise:
• Reduction in response time between corresponding Central Authorities;
• Direct sending of requests to a Central Authority without the danger of them being lost or sent to the wrong recipient;
• More efficient and effective case handling;
• Security of the electronic exchange as opposed to email;
• Possibility to work in one own’s language and send forms and letters in other languages without translation costs.
The experience of iSupport offers the following lessons for policy makers in relation to the development of IT solutions:
• Start developing the core elements of the system while taking into account the additional components to be included later;
• The importance of building consensus, involving users and carefully drafting requirements;
• A development methodology that emphasises user involvement and breaks down developments in several parts;
• The added value of coordination by an international organisation that can offer experience of consensus-building with States;
• Work on a common application to provide the first step of digitisation for those States which are not yet equipped;
• A careful choice of subcontractor to ensure consistent delivery within a given budget;
• The use of open-source tools within the context of the work on European interoperability to minimise costs and ensure adaptability.
|Award category:||new solutions to complex challenges - a public sector citizen-centric, sustainable and fit for the future - european or national level|
|Type of activity:|
|Keywords:||Child support; case management; electronic communication|
|Short English description:|| An international legislative framework was adopted and reinforced in the 2000s in order to facilitate the recovery of child support in cross-border cases. However, obstacles pertaining to distance, language and exchange of paper mail remain.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) realised early that Information Technology (IT) could be used to alleviate these obstacles. Its 2007 Convention on the international recovery of child support explicitly foresees the use of IT. In 2009, HCCH produced a first vision of iSupport as a single electronic tool to service the 2007 Convention and other international instruments.
|Organisation:||Hague Conference on Private International Law|
|Level of government:||EU institutions|
|Size of organisation:||25-50|
|Number of people involved:||1-5|
|EU membership:||EU member|