In the majority of cases, ex-spouses pay their child or spousal support payments as required by court order or a separation agreement. But when a payor begins to default, B.C.’s Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) has ways and means to issue penalties and to enforce payment.
Interest, Fees And Enforcement Action
Child and spousal support are considered amounts owing, in the same way as credit card or bank loans are. When a payor misses two payments in the same year, the FMEP may charge a default fee equivalent to a month of support, up to a maximum of $400. Arrears may also be subject to daily interest, payable to the support recipient.
The FMEP also has the authority to take certain actions to directly collect the outstanding funds. Each case is different. Depending on the amounts owing and the history and current situation of the payor, the FMEP may decide to use any of the following recovery methods:
- Garnishing bank accounts, wages, salaries or commissions
- Intercepting moneys payable by the government, such as income tax refunds, GST credits, employment insurance benefits and CPP payments
- Garnishing pensions, workers’ compensation or long- or short-term disability payments
- Taking amounts out of payments from ICBC claims
- Withholding or suspending a passport, drivers’ or other navigational licences or a vehicle licence registration
- Registering a maintenance lien against a motor vehicle or other personal property
- Registering a maintenance agreement or order against the payor’s land
- Filing a report with a credit bureau, with impact to the payor’s credit file for six years
In cases where the payor is experiencing genuine difficulty shouldering the responsibility, he or she can work directly with the FMEP on a Voluntary Payment Arrangement. He or she may also go to court to seek a change to the maintenance order agreement.
The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott are available to provide legal advice to both payors and recipients of child or spousal support.