January 29, 2008

Reject Child Support to Deny U.S. Citizenship
Lima, Peru

I haven't had the need to visit that many U.S. embassies abroad, but can say without question that the complex in Lima is the most striking I've seen to date.

Entrance to the US Embassy in Lima, Peru

The doors to the main building that contain the citizen services wing are tall, heavy, and intimidating. With a large bronzed seal of the United States boldly placed above the entryway, and a building design tailored to exaggerate the size of the opening, I couldn't help but be reminded of the grand entrance that needed to be passed to see the Wizard of Oz.

…Perhaps for so many of those seeking entry or citizenship, the United States is the Land of Oz. It's a shame that applicants never see such things, as they are relegated to a separate building.

Inside the reception cloister, and past yet another metal detector and armed Marine, the ceiling above caught my attention. The room was rather cube shaped, and spread all above me (running partially down the walls) were large blue tiles with silver stars set in the center. I was rather mesmerized by it while I waited for the receptionist (sitting behind several inches of bulletproof glass) to direct me to the appropriate room. It was almost as if I was wrapped up inside the blue section of the American flag—I was quite impressed.

Perhaps I was still just feeling pleased at catching a long glimpse of the large flag flying outside the building on my approach. There's something very special about seeing such things, especially when it's a rather uncommon sight after traveling abroad for prolonged periods of time, and stepping foot on home turf—even if it's sovereign soil abroad.

Tatiana, Aidric (now almost three weeks old), and I traveled by minibus for an hour to reach the embassy. Today's visit was simply to pick up the paperwork needed to register his birth and get him a passport, and establish what additional documents would be necessary to bring to our interview with an embassy staff member (on appointment only).

Thumbing through the many pages of paperwork that needed to be filled out, a footnote caught my attention. The sentence it belonged to read:

That, if any child named above was born out of wedlock and I am the father through whom such child is claiming United States citizenship, I agree to provide financial support for such child until such child reaches the age of eighteen years.

The footnote added:

This phrase may be deleted; however, if it is deleted by a United States citizen who father a child born out of wedlock to a foreign woman, the child will not be eligible for citizenship under Section 309(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended on November 14, 1986.

My curiosity peaked, I looked up Section 309 (Children Born out of Wedlock) in the Immigration and Nationality Act, and found that agreeing to financially support the child until s/he is 18 years old is one of the four conditions (of that subsection) that need to be met to for the child to qualify for U.S. citizenship.

I'm not sure what the original spirit of that particular part of the amendment was, but my interpretation is that it's a fail-safe to keep foreign mothers from leveraging children to gain financial benefits or U.S. citizenship for themselves (by "accidentally" getting pregnant from a U.S. male abroad).

Now that doesn't mean that the mother can't hit the father up for child support in her own country, but let's face it, unless their government has some type of reciprocity established for such things (see below), nothing much would come of it except the father's inability to travel back to that country again (without risking things like jail time).

Q. WHAT COUNTRIES DOES THE UNITED STATES HAVE CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT AGREEMENTS WITH AT PRESENT?
A. Since 1996, when Congress for the first time specifically authorized federal-level agreements regarding child support enforcement, the United States has entered into a number of reciprocal agreements, which do not require U.S. Senate advice and consent. Currently, the U.S. has Federal reciprocal arrangements in force with Australia, Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Branswick, Newfoundland/Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Czech Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and the Slovak Republic.

Some women think that getting pregnant by an American is the solution to the exit from their country, or a financial hardship. And up until today, I thought that my citizenship automatically passed to Aidric the moment he was born; when it turns out that I have to grant it to him by declaring that I'll support him.

But it appears that it's entirely possible to register the child's birth abroad—which the parent(s) should do with the U.S. embassy to avoid agonizing situations later—but not consent to pay child support (at that time). Although, I suspect that a father is able to later declare such things at any time before s/he turns 18, thus paving the way for the rest of the child's citizenship/passport paperwork to go through.

I really don't know what happens when the child turns 18 years old and no longer qualifies for child support. It's possible the birth registration and father's sworn declaration of paternity would grant the young adult his or her U.S. citizenship at that time.

If the father finally declares he'll financially support the child many years after the child's birth, and the mother turns out not to be the nicest of people, it's possible she could sue in U.S. court for back-payments of child support. And then, suddenly, the father has a six-figure debt to pay off.

I really think this can be a difficult decision for men in this situation to deal with. It's hard to know what the demeanor of the child's mother will be in a decade, for it is she who holds the power to help or hurt under these circumstances. Sadly, the child is caught in the middle of some difficult decisions that will directly impact them, and their future.

So, I think the big question that looms over the head of any American male with a child born abroad (and out of wedlock) to a woman who isn't a U.S. citizen is: Will I obstruct my child's citizenship simply to limit my financial liability?

My answer is no, I won't, but it's nice to know the checks and balances are in there for guys ensnared by a passport hunter.

Comments:

MB

February 2nd, 2008

That's news to me, too. And seriously fucked up. American parent should equal American child. No kid should ever have to pay for having idiot/conniving parents.

pg

March 10th, 2008

I wonder what the laws are for a reverse situation. Or is the child of an American woman and foreign man automatically an American citizen. I think the laws have nothing at all to do with protecting american men from foreigners. It all has to do with making sure you pay if you want to claim the child as your own and it removes a procedure from the courts of establishing paternity if she decides to sue for child support. Just makes getting you a lot easier , as i told a coworker.. these days child support beats alimony hands down and gives a whole new meaning to "its cheaper to keep her".

Anonymous

September 22nd, 2008

Well, maybe it's a mess, but i think that even if kid is american born. She can't get a green card before the kid complete 18, she can't changed her (foreign mom) status either. So getpregnantgameaccidentaly is not worth if the goal is just get a green card.

Anonymous

March 24th, 2009

I have a very similiar issue with a child born abroad. I am US Citizen and have a child born overseas.

Am I obligated to pay child support? I think this was a case of so-to-speak "entrapment"; trying to get pregnant for US citizenship and financial gains from American Citizens.

please email me at dak970@yahoo.com

thank you.

Would like to discuss further and find out what is required by INTL laws.

Thank you for any insight.

Lebanon

Craig | travelvice.com

March 24th, 2009

Anonymous — the short is probably no.

As mentioned above:

Currently, the U.S. has Federal reciprocal arrangements in force with Australia, Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Branswick, Newfoundland/Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Czech Republic, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and the Slovak Republic.

Unless she's a resident of one of these countries, you can just walk away. Not even marriage to a foreign national gives the spouse the right to reside or enter into the USA. Unless you specifically give your US citizenship to the child, the child will not automatically have any US citizenship.

Samuel

March 28th, 2009

How about this one. Me and my fiancee are both American citizens but our daughter born out of wedlock (and abroad) cannot get American citizenship unless we both prove parentage with the child. Apparently her birth certificate with the father and mother's name on it was not good enough. Also not good enough was my signed and sworn affidavit claiming parentage/child support till the age of 18. They cannot "order" but are badgering us into taking DNA tests as the only way. I think its seriously fucked up if 2 American citizens cannot get their child citizenship. I mean…how could our child ever go back with us the the US?
Anyone have any advice email me mateyakmail@yahoo.com

Lebanon

Craig | travelvice.com

March 28th, 2009

That's a real mess Samuel that shouldn't be happening. What country was your child born in?

Since the mother is a US citizen, your child should be one by birth. It's only when the father is a citizen and the mother is an foreign national that paternity must be proved (since its quite clear that the mother, a citizen, gave birth to the child).

Samuel

March 29th, 2009

Our daughter is 1 year old and born here in the Philippines. The American Vice Consul here told us that American law states that if BOTH parents are American, then parentage MUST be proved by BOTH parents.

Honduras

fernando ryan

March 23rd, 2010

Im 20 years old, born abroad, out of wed-lock but legally recognized by my father in my country. I dont talk to my father at all, i want to know how i can get my us citizenship? ive done some research in the US embassy in my country and they told my i can still get it by a report of birth abroad, but only my father can do that. is there any way possible i can get it? in all the cases above you are talking only about biological sons not recognized by the father in the foreign country nor in the US.

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

March 23rd, 2010

As far as I know your father (a US citizen) will have to declare you as his biological son in the eyes of the US government. Yes, this means filing a report of birth abroad, and that must be done by him.

The Philippines

ivy

November 4th, 2011

hi. i am a filipino citizen,have a son with an american citizen.can somebody tell me if i have the right to ask for financial support from him?our son was born here in the philippines and he acknowledge him and signed on his birth certificate.any advice would help.thank you.

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

November 4th, 2011

@Ivy — if he never swore an oath to support your son inside of a US embassy, then no, you can't (not in a U.S. court). You might be able to pursue this under the laws of your country, but any judgment against him can easily be avoided as simply never returning to the Philippines, least he possibly be detained at immigration (again, depending on how things works in the PI).

Romania

simo

November 10th, 2011

my daughter was born in romania ,her father is us resident but never came to romania to aknowledge her or sign her birth certificate.can i sue him to accept her as his daughter ?can i ask for child support after?thanks

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

November 10th, 2011

@simo — under US law, no, you may not. You might be able to pursue this under the laws of your country, which might accommodate such situations. DNA testing would likely be involved.

Romania

simona

November 16th, 2011

thank you craig .but what if a romanian court or judge will adjudecate him as her father and we change her birth certificate and she gets his name?can I then sue him?it is hard for me to believe that my daughter has no rights …any chid supposed to have a father and rights..isnt it?

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

November 16th, 2011

@Simona — Here you can find a current listing of foreign countries the US has reciprocal agreements with regarding child support — Romania is not one of them. In this case, the child support laws of your country have no impact on a US citizen. And as he never acknowledged this birth and swore to support the child under oath at a US Embassy in Romania, there simply are no options for you under US law.

Anyone reading this page should understand that American males sowing their wild oats abroad are very well protected in these circumstances.

Romania

simona

November 18th, 2011

well if US laws protects these deliquents and deny the children's rights well…………hmmmmmm….that's very bad.these kids are innocent and deserves a better quality of living.anyways maybe i should sue US goverment ehehehehe

Sweden

A

November 21st, 2011

To kids born out of wedlock to an American father, they have claim to an american citizenship and it is in deed ILLEGAL for anybody with a claim to American citizenship to enter the US on another passport.
If paternitytests are done and the fathers name is registered with authorities, it is possible to get Am citizenship, it takes a lot of work and finding papers, if he doesn´t cooperate, but it is possible

Canada

Dn

March 15th, 2012

Can I register my child in the US consulate without his US citizen dad to go with me? We're happily married and he is our 2nd baby. The problem why he will not be there is because he's in deployment.

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

March 16th, 2012

@DN, I'd give the consulate a call.

The United States

joan

April 25th, 2012

hi craig. I am a filipino citizen,im from philippines. I have 2 kids to an american citizen. He signed the birth certificate. Can i ask a financial support for my kids because he stopped sending us a support. Thank you in advance.

The Philippines

lourdes

December 12th, 2012

Hello! I have a child to a black american citizen,my baby is 1yr and4months. She's already a u.s citizen,established paternal test and she has u.s passport already. My concern is this: I don't wanna deal with my baby's father lies and bs anymore, so I am thinking of just suing him for child support since he had sign affidavit of parentage and child support submitted to the embassy already. He had lied to me too many times, told me he's divorced at first,later on,I found out,he's not,and I was already pregnant. Yet he had convinced me divorce is on-going, until recently, I found out,he has another woman there in u.s, the woman sent me some pictures of them kissing together. I am deeply hurt,I was very naive and stupid.That's why I made up my mind to not deal with him anymore. Though he always try to call me but i blocked him,he is emailing me it's not true. I just don't wanna deal with such a liar anymore. So,please help me how can I get this child support issue started,I'm currently not working. Thanks.

The United States

Carl

November 21st, 2013

I am being in trapped by my childs mother. she wants to me to sign docs for my child to gain citizenship but the real reason I believe is to get money and green card in long run. I send her money but refused to be trapped. she told me she wanted my child to come live with me here but again I think its a lie and a trap. Sooooo my question is:
Is there any document or legal form I can do that would allow even exchange- dna and citizenship for custody?! and I would allow my child to spend 3-4 months out the year with mother?

The United States

carlos R

September 23rd, 2014

I travel 4 years ago to colombia,when out with a female for 21 days,then return to usa.she became pregnant and say i'm the father, what can i do to get a dna?do i have to travel to colombia?

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

September 23rd, 2014

The United States

mb

February 2nd, 2015

i married to us citizen and married here in the US and im 7months pregnant but since the first time he accused me i become pregnant before i got here in the US and he denied this baby is his and that i just taking advantages on him to get a greencard i want to get a divorce and we are on the process now, i want a dna test after our baby is born to proof that all the accusations are not true, all i want is after i get a dna n birth cettificate. After that i want to go back home to my country with our baby coz i dont want to dealing with him anymore, he was agree with that agreement but recently i heard that he is planning to take my baby and get a full custody at the court if the dna result shows our baby is.his and send me home alone, i dont have job and i could not afford lawyer, would judge granted his request?

The Philippines

missy

May 10th, 2015

Hello i have two kids divorvpce to an american citizen i live in the Philippines!can i seek a child support?after he divorce me while i am in the philippines he dont support his kids no more.even thier passports he diddnt renew again!can they still get us passport when they turn 18 on thier own?

Turkey

szn

July 18th, 2015

hi everyone i m Turkish woman.ı m pregnant 5 month my ex bf he is american citizen.he say want this child and marry but ı dont have visa he say every time he go to consulate for paperwork but ı never believe him and he come back state and ı m scared i think he will not support me. ı look country list but ı think Foreign Reciprocating Countries not see Turkey.pls help me

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