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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:
Who can enrol
Anyone – a payor or a recipient – may choose to enrol in the FMEP. There are only two requirements:
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.
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.
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:
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 enrolIf you are the person receiving the maintenance (the recipient) you can:
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