We have an enforcement agency in British Columbia called Family Maintenance and Enforcement Program (FMEP). There are similar agencies in other provinces. They are purely an enforcement agency though, so you need to register any court order or separation agreement you have with them.
They then take over collecting child support or spousal support payments. If you do not pay, then the arrears accrue. At a certain amount, they put a hold on your driver’s licence. They can also garnish wages, federal or provincial payments to the payor (so income tax returns, gst payments). They also put a hold on a person’s passport. Finally, if all of this doesn’t work – there is a mechanism whereby the payor can be sent to jail. I’ve been in court when that has happened – the payor isn’t very happy! This obviously is the most onerous of penalties and only ever done if all other avenues have not worked.
I describe them as a guard dog. They do exactly what they are told to do and nothing more or less. So they go in accordance with the terms of a court order or a separation agreement. Unless both parties agree to change the terms of a court order or agreement, FMEP have no authority to change the terms of what they are enforcing. So – if a person’s income goes down and the payee refuses to agree to a reduction in child support, you have to go to court to get an order decreasing child support. Note that while this process is happening, FMEP are still enforcing and arrears are still accumulating. For a payor, they are a monkey on their back. For a payee they are a very effective method of ensuring that support is paid.
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