British Columbia Family Maintenance Enforcement Program
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General Information - We Can Help
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The Canadian courts have long recognized that the financial responsibilities of parents to their children – and of one spouse to another – do not end when the parents or spouses separate.

The courts regularly award maintenance orders and file agreements that require parents to continue to provide for their families, and spouses to continue to provide for their former partners.

Many do so willingly. Others, unfortunately, do not.

In either case, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program can help.


Who we are/what we do

The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is a service of the British Columbia Ministry of Justice.

We are responsible under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act for monitoring and enforcing all maintenance orders and agreements that are filed with us. That means we will:
  • calculate arrears, receive, record and forward payments to the person receiving maintenance (called the recipient), and
  • take action, if and when necessary, to try to ensure the person who is supposed to pay maintenance (called the payor) makes the required maintenance payments.
For additional information on the Ministry of Justice's family justice services, please visit the Family Justice website.


Who can enrol

Anyone – a payor or a recipient – may choose to enrol in the FMEP. There are only two requirements:
  • that you live in British Columbia, and
  • that you have a valid maintenance order or agreement from any court in Canada, or the United States or other country by agreement (please check with us).
There are no fees to enrol in the FMEP.

We recognize the importance of maintenance to families and children. At the same time, however, we do not work just for the recipient.

We provide a service for both recipients and payors to help ensure the terms of their maintenance orders are fulfilled, and we strive for a good working relationship with all our clients.


What we can do

We know that many payors will never fall behind in their payments and enforcement action against them will never be necessary.

If a payor does fall into arrears, however, we have the authority to take a number of steps.

We will try to work with the payor to develop a plan for paying the arrears in addition to making ongoing maintenance payments.


Enforcement Action

If enforcement is necessary, federal and provincial laws give us the authority to use a number of measures, depending on how much money is owing and what we know about the payor's current situation. We will choose the actions we think will have the best chance of success in each particular case.

Payors:
If your order is filed with the FMEP, it does not necessarily mean that you have a poor payment history. Many people enrol with us simply because it's easier to have us collect and track their payments.

Our enforcement options include:
  • Requiring anyone who owes the payor money to pay it directly to the FMEP. This is called "attaching" income, and may be applied to virtually any income, including wages, pensions, income tax refunds or HST credits, workers' compensation benefits or rental income. We may also attach bank accounts or other assets;
  • Recovering arrears from lottery winnings;
  • Requesting that the court order a payor to provide future security for support payments from any large source of funds, such as an inheritance; and
  • Registering the order against any land a payor may own. Also registering a lien against any personal property a payor may own (including a car, boat, trailer or manufactured home).
Our options also include:
  • If the payor owes more than $2,000.00 in maintenance, we may report the payor to a credit bureau. This may affect the payor's ability to qualify for a credit card or take out a loan.
  • If the payor owes more than $3,000.00 in maintenance, we may do any or all of the following:
    • instruct ICBC to refuse to issue or renew the payor's driver's licence; or
    • instruct ICBC to refuse to issue or renew the payor's annual vehicle licence, without which a payor cannot purchase vehicle insurance; or
    • request the federal government to suspend, refuse to issue or renew the payor's passport and/or federal aviation or marine licence.
  • If the payor owns all or a major part of a corporation, making the payor's corporation liable for the payor's maintenance payments.
We may decide to take one or more of these actions at any time. We will choose the actions we think will have the best chance of success in each particular case.

Recipients:
We will do our best to make sure you receive your maintenance payments.

However, you should know that some payors make it very difficult for us to collect – even going to the extent of leaving the country to avoid paying maintenance. Others may have no income or assets, or may be receiving income assistance, which means it may take a long time to collect what is owed to you. But we will continue to pursue your payments as long as your maintenance order or agreement is enrolled with us.


Beyond provincial boundaries

Court orders or agreements filed with us can also be enforced outside of BC.

We can request up-to-date information about a payor's location, employment and assets through a variety of federal and provincial computer databases, and we also have reciprocal agreements with all Canadian provinces and territories, American states and several other countries – which means we can ask another province, territory, state or country to take enforcement action on our behalf.


To enrol
If you are the person receiving the maintenance (the recipient) you can:
If you are the person paying maintenance (the payor) you can:



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