Child Support Enforcement

If a child support order is issued by a court, then it will be filed for enforcement with your province’s child support enforcement agency.

Each province has its own child support enforcement agency. These agencies are responsible for collecting child support and child support arrears.  In Ontario, this agency is known as the Family Responsibility Office. Here is the information about other provinces’ agencies:

1. Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program
2. British Columbia Family Maintenance Enforcement Program
3. Manitoba Maintenance Enforcement Program
4. New Brunswick Family Supports Orders Service
5. Newfoundland & Labrador Support Enforcement Division
6. Northwest Territories Maintenance Enforcement Program
7. Nova Scotia Maintenance Enforcement Program
8. Nunavut Court of Justice
9. Prince Edward Island Maintenance Enforcement Program
10. Quebec Support Payment Collection Program
11. Saskatchewan Maintenance Enforcement Office
12. Yukon Maintenance Enforcement Program

To avoid collection through the provincial child support enforcement agency, both parents must agree, in writing, to withdraw the case. Each agency has its own specific form that must be completed for this process. The case can normally be withdrawn from the child support enforcement agency at any time, even if child support recovery has already begun.

If child support is payable pursuant to a separation agreement between the parents, then the provincial child support enforcement agency only gets involved if one party requests that they do so by filing the child support agreement with the agency. Normally, a child support agreement will provide that in the event of default, the agreement may be filed with the child support enforcement agency for collection of child support.

The normal method of enforcement of child support is through wage garnishment. The agency will sent a legal notice to your employer asking your employer to withhold a portion of your salary and send that to the agency. Normally there are maximum garnishments specified by law – usually up to 50% of a person’s salary can be garnished for child (and spousal) support.  The 50% limit includes and payments towards child support arrears.

Instead of salary garnishments, other arrangements can sometimes be made with the child support enforcement agencies – for instance, they may automatically debit your bank account each month or even accept post-dated cheques for the child support owing.

The child support recovery powers of these  agencies re quite broad. The normal first move for non-payment is to suspend the payor’s drivers licence. The child support enforcement agencies also have the power to suspend other licences and even passports. Ultimately, someone who does not pay child support can be thrown in jail.

It is important to note that these child support enforcement agencies do nothing except enforce any child support orders and agreements. If there is a problem with your child support order or agreement, or your child support order or agreement must be changed, you need to take the matter to the court, not the enforcement agency. As well, if you believe that child support should end, that is a matter for the court to decide, and not the agency.  If you have good reason for a reduction in child support arrears, that is also a matter for the courts.

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