WELCOME and PURPOSE
Welcome to the ACF; we truly appreciate your interest and support. ACF is a non-profit corporation determined by the IRS to be tax-exempt under the IRS Code section 501(c)(3). Accordingly, donations to ACF are tax deductible for our donors. The IRS has further classified ACF as an operating foundation, meaning that donations are used by ACF to manage its own programs and not used to make grants to other foundations.
ACF's main purposes are:
- to obtain child support for American children who were born and live outside the United States, whose father is a U.S. citizen or resident and who has abandoned his child;
- to gain U.S. government recognition of the child's American citizenship, derived from his or her father, and
We believe there to be tens of thousands of such children around the world. ACF knows of no other group which speaks on behalf of these American kids, most of whom are stranded in far-away places. We work to give them a better life and the opportunity to come home to America.
These kids need our help; we need yours.
HOW DOES THIS ALL WORK?
To achieve these purposes, ACF must first be contacted by the child's parent, usually the mother, who is currently living outside of the United States. As a new foundation, ACF has as a major task the promotion of its objectives and to become recognized in other countries which, in itself, is a substantial marketing and public relations effort. To do this will take personal contacts by ACF people, outreach programs tailored for each country, working through foreign governments, churches and each country's national media.
When known, ACF will be filled with prospective cases. When contacted, ACF will work with the mother in her home country. Her task will be to gather documents which demon-strate the details of her child's birth and to identify the father. Typically, such documents include an officially certified birth certificate, an acknowledgement of paternity, if available, plus any documents or information useful in identifying the father for purposes of locating him in the United States. When gathered, ACF would review that evidentiary material to determine if is sufficient to prevail in an American court and, finally, locate and identify the father.
On completion of the review and finding the father, ACF then assigns the child support part of the case to a volunteer lawyer in the father's home state to initiate a child support action in that state's court system to adjudicate both paternity and the amount of child support to be transmitted to the mother for the benefit of the child. If ACF has no current volunteer lawyer in a given state, it must find one through direct solicitation, attorney bar associations or referrals. ACF lawyers volunteer to work without compensation so the task is more difficult than in just finding competent counsel. We need caring and competent counsel. In some instances, we anticipate settling the case with father to save him the cost of defending a losing case in court.
Concurrent with the child support matter and, eventually supported by court orders granted, ACF would make an application to the Citizenship & Immigration Services [the CIS] component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to initiate the child's winding road to citizenship.
These steps, while linked by the same information and parties, are substantially different. The first phase is concerned with working with mothers who have qualifying children and gathering sufficient information for the identification the U.S. father. Much of that is done in the mother's home country. When completed, the emphasis shifts to the United States, first to the state court and, at virtually the same time, the filing of the application for citizenship. The state court case is not complex. It is dependent on the proof of paternity either by documentary evidence or scientific evidence, such as DNA. Once paternity is established, the rest is the court's application of that state's child support rules to the financial status of the respective parents. Most states have reduced this application to software (California) or a percentage of income formula. (Texas) But it is routine in that every state's family courts do child support calculations every day of the week.
The citizenship process is much more detailed and each case is likely to require subsequent information requests from the CIS. Paternity, standing by itself, is not enough to provide citizenship, especially as our cases will invariably involve the father as the U.S. citizen. (Further details below.)
CHILD SUPPORT IN THE UNITED STATES
In the United States, the determination of and court orders for child support are a state court function. Each state has its own particular formula for determining the amount of support in any particular case. However, while the details vary from state-to-state, the principles are similar. The courts look at the incomes of the respective parents and the amount of time the child lives with each parent. Based on that information, a statutory formula is applied and the child support amount calculated. In California, for example, the formula has been reduced to computer software and family court judges there are required to set child support on the result of the software's computations of support.
One principle is clear. In every state, parents are responsible for the financial support of their children. Since the paying parent will always be resident in the United States and almost always the father, his resident state's child support laws will apply whether the child lives in Florida or the Philippines.
CITIZENSHIP FOR CHILDREN OF AN AMERICAN CITIZEN IF THE CHILDREN WERE BORN AND LIVE ABROAD
The general principle for recognition of American citizenship for a child born and living abroad and who has an American citizen parent is deceptively simple. It is that such children derive American citizenship at birth, through their American parent. When, however, the citizen parent abandons the child, who is often born out-of-wedlock, multiple statutory and administrative hurdles arise in order to receive formal recognition of citizenship. Paternity must be legally established; legitimation must be accomplished and financial support, until the child reaches 18, must be assented to in a writing by the American parent. (A court order is sufficient writing for support purposes.) The rules become more complex if the parent is a naturalized citizen. Under that fact pattern, the naturalized citizen must have lived in the United States for a specific number of years and at specific time periods in that parent's life.
By several Supreme Court decisions, if the citizen parent is the Mother, the hurdles are virtually non-existent. If the citizen parent is the father, due process and gender discrimination notwithstanding, the hurdles stated rear up to block recognition. They can be overcome but, to a child living in a foreign country whose mother is likely poor, unfamiliar with English, the American court system and the U.S. government's administrative processes, the task is generally impossible. She would have to deal with a state court system and the Citizen and Immigration Services, all from afar, without skills, experience or help.
ACF has the skills and determination to help these American children and to bring them home. We need your help to succeed.