Parents of dependent children have the responsibility to provide financial support for their children. So what do you do if your ex is not paying their child support? The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, also called FMEP, can help to enforce a court order for you. FMEP is a free program, and probably the simplest way to collect on a child support order from a reluctant payor. This blog post will help clarify what steps to take.
If You Have a Court Order
If you already have a court order, the FMEP can help to carry it out. Anyone with a maintenance order or agreement filed in a BC court can enroll in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program. The FMEP is a free service of the BC Ministry of Attorney General, which helps families and children entitled to support under a maintenance order or agreement. They offer various ways to send and receive maintenance payments and also have actions they can take for enforcement. If you are facing a reluctant payor, the first step is enrolling with FMEP. To do this, ensure you have a valid maintenance order or agreement filed in a BC court. Get a court-certified copy of your support order from the Court Registry, and provide this to FMEP. You can enroll with FMEP here.
If You Don’t Yet Have a Court Order
If you don’t already have a court order, start by creating a maintenance order or agreement that clearly sets out what support is owed. People seeking court orders for child maintenance under the Family Law Act may go to either the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court of British Columbia. The Federal Support Guidelines will explain the payor’s monthly obligations. Once the maintenance order or agreement is finalized, it then needs to be filed in a BC court. We can help you to navigate the process. Contact us today for a consultation.
How Does FMEP Enforce the Order?
FMEP will take steps, including further court action, to enforce the order for you. If the payor falls into arrears federal and provincial laws give FMEP the authority to take a number of actions, such as:
- Notice of Attachment and Garnishment of Wages
- Federal Interception
- Driver’s Licence Cancellation
- Federal Licence and Passport Denial
FMEP looks at each case individually. The action or actions they choose will depend on the payor’s history, how much money the payor owes, and what they know about the payor’s current situation. FMEP chooses enforcement actions that will have the best chance of success.
COVID-19 and Child Support
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, families may be experiencing financial hardship. That said, the payor is still required to support his or her children by paying the maintenance owing under the order or agreement. If the full amount due cannot be paid at once, partial payments should still be made. Based on orders from the Provincial Health Officer, FMEP staffing levels have been significantly reduced and actions have been limited. FMEP has temporarily stopped:
- Issuing any new Credit Reports to credit reporting agencies
- Issuing any Default Fees for missed or late payments
- Proceeding with Driver’s Licence Cancellations
Other actions used by FMEP to collect unpaid maintenance are still available and will be considered on a case by case basis.