You're expecting to receive money from your ex-partner to pay for your daughter's new clothes. But the money doesn't arrive. Unfortunately, getting a Support Order from a court does not mean that you are guaranteed to get the money set out in the Order.
What can you do? Your ex-partner can be compelled to pay the support payments you are owed. It may still be possible to force your ex to pay their outstanding support payments even if they have moved to another province or another country.
There are two ways to enforce a Support Order in Alberta. The government administers the government, while the second requires you to launch new court proceedings.
The Maintenance Enforcement Program
The Director of Alberta Maintenance will enforce your Support Order under the Maintenance Enforcement Program. You must provide the program administrators with the following information:
- A copy of your Court Order for support.
- An Affidavit of Arrears showing how much money is owed to you if there is past support owing
- Information about the individual who is receiving the support
You must complete a registration package to submit this information and request enforcement. The packages are available at any Provincial Court in Alberta or a Social Services and Community Health Office in your area.
The Program contacts your ex-partner and tells them to pay their support payments directly to the Director of Maintenance Enforcement. The Director sends you a government cheque for the amount owing once the bank clears your ex-partner's payment.
Enforcement if the ex-partner still doesn't make support payments
The Director of Maintenance Enforcement can use one or more methods against an ex-partner who still doesn't pay. They could be forced to reveal their financial statements and situation to the Director to show what monies they have available to make the support payments. The Director could also compel the reluctant ex to pay support payments by:
- Garnishing the money from their salary or bank accounts
- Transferring money from any tax refund, GST rebate or employment insurance payments to the person who is owed support
- Preventing the ex-partner from renewing their driver's licence by putting a lien on their motor vehicle services
- Suspending the ex-partner's driver's licence
Enforcement through the Courts
You can take your ex-partner back to court to compel them to pay support. You follow the same procedure as you would to collect on any other court judgement that a person owes you money.
The Director of Maintenance Enforcement can take your ex-partner to court to have them jailed if, despite all efforts, they still don't make their support payments.
Enforcement of Support Orders outside Alberta
Alberta has Reciprocal Maintenance Enforcement Agreements with Canada's other provinces and territories as well as some other countries, including the United States. The Director sends the Support Order to the jurisdiction where your ex-partner is currently domiciled. That jurisdiction's enforcement agency then enforces the Support Order and sends the money to you.
Some Support Orders are not enforceable in all jurisdictions. Alberta does enforce out-of-province Support Orders, but only if they were due after 1984.
Enforcing an unpaid Support Order is challenging. An experienced family lawyer's expertise can guide you through the procedures you must follow to enforce a Support Order.