Family Maintenance Act Amendments Effective July 1, 2019

Changes to the Family Maintenance Act became effective July 1, 2019 and provide the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) with enhanced authorities for improved services to parties that are registered with the MEP.

Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations

Effective July 1, 2019, the parties to an order (debtor and creditor) can change the maintenance obligations in their order for enforcement purposes by completing and submitting an Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations for either spousal or child support. The Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations form allows the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) to administer the support as represented in the Agreement. Once the Agreement is received by the MEP, the account will be adjusted and the parties notified of the corresponding account adjustments.

Maintenance Agreement Information Sheet

Agreement to Change Child Maintenance Obligations

Agreement to Change Spousal Maintenance Obligations

Instructions for the Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations

Please note that the MEP can only give effect to the Agreement if fully completed and signed by both parties and the instructions within are clear and enforceable by the MEP. The parties will be advised in writing if the MEP cannot administer the changes requested in the form.

Terminating a Maintenance Agreement

The Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations may be terminated in writing by either party by completing and submitting the Termination of Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations. Upon receiving notice from one or both of the parties, the MEP will resume enforcement of the support obligations set out in the prior maintenance order and the parties will be notified in writing of any resulting account adjustments.

Termination of Agreement to Change Maintenance Obligations.

Child Support Enforcement Eligibility – Adult Child

Prior to July 1, 2019, the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) was required to administer the child support in a maintenance order for an adult child until further order of the court unless the order specified an end date. Changes to The Family Maintenance Act now allow the MEP to review the enforcement eligibility for an adult child and cease enforcement for that child unless it can be determined that the child is unable to live independently because of illness, disability or other reason such as attending secondary or post-secondary studies.

Child Support Enforcement Eligibility Information Sheet

Creditor responsibilities and involvement

The changes to The Family Maintenance Act require a creditor who has reason to believe that the MEP is enforcing a maintenance obligation for an adult child when that obligation is no longer eligible for enforcement must immediately notify the designated officer of that fact. A creditor can provide that information in writing identifying the date the adult child is/was no longer eligible for enforcement and include their file number along with signature and/or MEP Personal Identification Number (PIN). The Child Support Enforcement Eligibility Form can also be used to provide the information to the MEP.

The MEP will also conduct periodic reviews with a creditor to obtain information necessary to establish continued child support enforcement eligibility for an adult child.

Child Support Enforcement Eligibility Form – Adult Child

Debtor responsibilities and involvement

A debtor that is paying child support for an adult child may make a request for an enforcement eligibility review if a review has not been performed within the previous 6 months. A request can be submitted by providing information and supporting documentation relating to whether the maintenance obligation for the adult child remains eligible for enforcement using the Child Support Enforcement Eligibility Review Request form.

Child Support Enforcement Eligibility – Request for Review

How a MEP file is affected

If a creditor withdraws the requirement for support for a child or a determination is made that an adult child is no longer eligible for enforcement, the MEP will adjust the parties’ file to remove enforcement for that child. If the file has multiple children of which some remain eligible for enforcement, the account will be adjusted based upon the Child Support Guidelines amount for the remaining children at the income level for the debtor identified in the maintenance order or agreement.

A file adjustment will not be completed if the creditor provides sufficient information that the adult child remains eligible for enforcement of child support.

Maintenance orders that were granted prior to 1996 cannot be adjusted if the child support payable does not specify an amount per child unless the creditor provides the amount of support to be enforced.

Child support payments assigned to Employment and Income Assistance prior to July 1, 2019 will not be adjusted for even if the child support was no longer eligible for enforcement prior to July 1, 2019.

Resumption of Support Payments for an Adult Child

If the MEP has ceased enforcement for an adult child and the creditor subsequently provides information that satisfies the MEP that the maintenance obligation for the adult child remains eligible for enforcement the MEP may resume enforcement. This is limited to enforcing payments due less than 60 days before the date the creditor provides that information.

A creditor can provide that information in writing identifying the date the adult child was eligible for enforcement, the reason the child is eligible, and include their file number along with signature and/or MEP Personal Identification Number (PIN). For convenience The Child Support Enforcement Eligibility Form can also be used to provide the information to the MEP.

Child Support Enforcement Eligibility - Request for Review

Notification to the parties on the MEP file

The parties will receive written notification of the outcome of a review and information on any updated child support terms and/or the arrears balance.

Administrative Suspension of Enforcement

Prior to July 1, 2019, a debtor could only obtain an order that suspended enforcement by going to court. Changes to The Family Maintenance Act now require that a debtor request an administrative suspension with the MEP prior to making a court application for a suspension order. The MEP has the authority to administratively suspend enforcement if the debtor’s circumstances warrant a suspension. An administrative suspension provides a debtor with enforcement relief and time to make a court application to have their order changed or resolve their short term change in circumstances.

Administrative Suspension of Enforcement Information Sheet

Debtor responsibilities and Involvement

If a debtor feels that a maintenance order being administered by the MEP no longer reflects their current circumstances or the circumstances set out in the maintenance order, they can make a request for an administrative suspension and provide the necessary information to supports that request. This request can be made in writing using the Request for Administrative Suspension form below along with any corresponding documentation that supports the request.

A copy of the completed request for administrative suspensions of enforcement and information including documents and records you provide is required to be shared with the creditor upon their request.

Request for Administrative Suspension

General circumstances for the MEP to consider an administrative suspension review
Change in debtor’s financial circumstances

  • Long term - A debtor’s financial circumstances have been permanently reduced and their ultimate form of relief is to vary their order.
  • Short Term - A debtor is experiencing a significant change in their financial circumstances as a result of an illness, medical issue or temporary loss of income.

Maintenance Order – change of circumstances
The Maintenance Order contains support terms that may no longer be applicable. Examples:

  • Daycare payments in Maintenance Order for child not in daycare or beyond the general age for daycare.
  • child support payments in Maintenance Order for a child not in the creditor’s care.

Creditor involvement and Responsibilities

A creditor will be notified in writing of an administrative suspension including the reasons for the suspension. In response to notification of an administrative suspension, a creditor can provide information to support a review to cancel or modify the suspension. The creditor will be notified in writing of any resulting changes to the administrative suspension or to confirm that it remains unchanged. The creditor and the debtor are entitled to a copy of information including documents and records the other has provided in relation to an administrative suspension of enforcement. Contact the MEP office to request a copy.

How it affects the MEP file

Once the request has been received, the MEP will make a determination of whether the information provided is satisfactory to warrant an administrative suspension. This may include further follow up with a debtor to obtain additional information.

If an administrative suspension is granted the effects of the suspension are limited to a maximum duration of 6 months and can include but is not limited to the following enforcement modification:

  • A complete cessation of enforcement
  • Enforcement of just the ongoing support or just the outstanding arrears
  • Enforcement of a reduced payment amount
  • Suspending specific enforcement activities – examples: a driver’s licence where it is required by the debtor for work or medical care; a passport when a debtor is scheduled for medical care outside of Canada.

Waive/Opt Out of Late Payment Penalties (LPPs)

The Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) is required to assess Late Payment Penalties (LPPs) against outstanding support arrears owed to a creditor on a MEP file. LPPs are assessed against the daily support arrears balance on a file at a rate of 18% per annum and are payable to the creditor on that MEP file.

As of July 1, 2019 creditors have the option to opt-out or waive LPPs. Opting out of LPPs stops the assessment of LPPs on any support arrears that accumulate on their file.

LPP Waiver Information Sheet

At the time a maintenance order is registered for enforcement, or at any subsequent time, the creditor may opt out of the assessment of penalties. At registration, a creditor can opt out of LPPs as identified in the creditor registration forms. Subsequent to registration a creditor can request to opt out of LPPs by completing and submitting the Waive/Opt Out of Late Payment Penalties form.

A creditor also has the option to waive the right to receive a portion or all of the LPPs already assessed on their file. A request to waive LPPs that already exist on their file can be made by completing the Waive/Opt Out of Late Payment Penalties form.

Waiver/Opt Out of Collection of LPPs Form

Cancelling the Waiver/Opt-out of Late Payment Penalties

Any LPP cancelled by a waiver or not collected during the period a creditor opted out of LPP cannot be re-instated.

A creditor may cancel the waiver/opt out of LPPs and by completing and submitting the form below. Their file will be adjusted to commence with assessing LPPs as of the date the Cancel – Waive/Opt Out of LPPs form is received by the MEP.

Cancellation of LPP Opt Out

Adjusting Instalment payments

  • There may be occasions when the support payment set out in a Maintenance Order does not specifically describe the amount of an instalment payment or there is a mathematical error where the instalment amount does not coincide with the monthly support amount in the order.
  • The MEP has the authority to adjust the instalment amount to be consistent with the monthly payment amount without it being necessary for the parties to endure the expense and time to have the Maintenance Order amended in court.
  • Upon processing an order where an instalment adjustment is necessary, the MEP will advise the parties in writing identifying the discrepancy and the way the MEP has adjusted the file.