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Maintenance Enforcement in PEI

The Maintenance Enforcement Office is located in the Honourable C.R. McQuaid Family Law Centre at 1 Harbourside Access Road, Charlottetown. The telephone number is 902-894-0383. Clients who have been assigned a PIN number can review the details of their account through the Interactive Voice Response system at 902-368-6010.

Call Maintenance Enforcement

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maintenance Enforcement is a free program established by the government of Prince Edward Island to collect support payments written into a support agreement or court order. This service can be used no matter where the payor lives in Canada. (It may also be used for some States in the U.S.A. and for some other countries where reciprocal agreements exist.)

Maintenance Enforcement is a voluntary program. If there is a Court order for support, or if the payee and the payor have signed a support order or agreement, one of the parties can opt into the program. This is usually done by the payee or by the payee's lawyer who provides a copy of the agreement/order and a completed one-page filing information form to the Program. Information about the payor, including name, address, income and place of employment is included in the information given to the Program.

Maintenance Enforcement does not have an agency that tracks payors. The office has no way of finding out where the payor works apart from the information given in the support agreement or order and in the filing form. If this information is not provided, enforcement is not possible.

When the Maintenance Enforcement Program receives the agreement/order and the filing form, the case is entered into the automated mailing system and a letter with a payroll deduction form is sent to the payor asking that he/she contact the office within 14 days to say:

* how payments will be made; or

* to return the completed payroll deduction form.

Once the payroll deduction form has been signed, it is the employer's responsibility to deduct the correct amount from the payor's salary and send the payment to the payee.

If the payor fails to contact Maintenance Enforcement, the Program will send a payment order to his/her employer. If the employer is an established company, provincial government or federal government, it usually takes about four to six weeks from the time the case is first registered with the Program before the first deduction is made from the payor's salary.

Employers do not always want to cooperate. Sometimes:

* employers see the deductions as a nuisance and try to convince the employee to handle them;

* employers forget to make the deductions and the only way this is caught in the Program is when the payee calls to say "I did not get my cheque;"

* employers have such small businesses that they claim they cannot do the bookkeeping around payroll deductions; and

* payors change jobs frequently so the payroll deduction process never really works properly.

An employer who does not co-operate may be required to give the Court their reasons.

If the payor changes jobs often, or if the Maintenance Enforcement Program cannot find out where he/she is employed, wage attachments cannot be used for support payments.

If the paying party is not working

If the payor is receiving employment insurance (EI or UI) this can also be "attached." To do this, correct information has to be supplied on the filing information form. The Maintenance Enforcement Program must apply to the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Unit (FOAEA) of the federal government to intercept this money. This unit works with every enforcement program in Canada.

There is a cost of $38 a year to the payor for attachment of employment insurance payments. This is usually taken off the first payment. If EI payments have been held up because of this cost, the payee may call either the EI program or the FOAEA for information about the status of the attachment. The toll-free number for the FOAEA is 1-800-267-7777.

Call Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Unit

If the paying party is not paying

Maintenance Enforcement can attempt to collect unpaid support by:

* garnishment of a portion of the payor's wages;

* asking the federal government to apply some or all of the payor's income tax refund, employment insurance payments, old age supplement, Canada Pension Plan payments or GST rebates to unpaid support;

* suspending the payor's driving licence;

* asking the federal government to suspend the payor's passport;

* asking the federal government to suspend certain other licences such as a commercial seaman's licence or aviation licence; or

* taking the payor to court for a default hearing.

The decision about how to enforce payment is made by the Maintenance Enforcement Program, not by the payee.

If the paying party is in another province

When the full address is given on the filing information form, the case will be sent to the payor's home province or territory for enforcement. Once this happens the case is enforced by the Program in that jurisdiction and is no longer the responsibility of PEI's Maintenance Enforcement Program. The PEI office can request status updates and give information to the other jurisdiction but the responsibility of enforcing the file no longer rests in PEI.

If the paying party has defaulted on payments

The payee must contact the Maintenance Enforcement office to say that payment has not been made and to give them the current address of the payor. Maintenance Enforcement will issue a default notice, delivered by the Sheriff, requiring the payor to attend court to explain why support has not been paid. Two days a month are assigned for support cases (one in Summerside and one in Charlottetown).

If the Sheriff cannot find the payor the case cannot go ahead, so it is very important that the address is correct.

If circumstances change

A support obligation is a debt that is owed and it takes priority over other debts such as credit cards. The Maintenance Enforcement Program has a mandate to enforce agreements/orders and will try to collect just like any other collection agency. It is the responsibility of the payor to have the support agreement/order changed if he/she is no longer able to make payments. If the payor has been laid off work, taken long-term sick leave, or otherwise had a major change in circumstances, Maintenance Enforcement must be informed and an application made to court for a variation of the existing support agreement/order. Going to court for a variation may lower the amount of support that must be paid.

The Maintenance Enforcement Program will do everything in its power to enforce the terms of an agreement or order. However, if the payor has no income, is on social assistance or living with his/her parents with no income, then the terms of the agreement/order cannot be enforced. The payor must have some identifiable source of income in order for the Program to be effective. Arrears continue to build up just like any other debt, so if the payor gets a job and starts to receive an income, the total amount of arrears will have to be paid.

Resources

For more information or to register your support agreement/order contact: Maintenance Enforcement, Honourable C.R. McQuaid Family Law Centre at 1 Harbourside Access Road, Charlottetown. The telephone numbers are 902-894-0383 or 902-368-6010.

Call Maintenance Enforcement

If you wish to speak to a lawyer about support payments, contact: Lawyer Referral Service at 1-800-240-9798 (902-892-0853 in Charlottetown). You receive a short consultation for a nominal fee.

Call CLIA PEI & the Lawyer Referral Service

For information about the federal Child Support Guidelines contact: Child Support Guidelines Clerks: Charlottetown, 902-368-6220; Summerside, 902-888-8188.

Call Child Support Guidelines Charlottetown

Call Child Support Guidelines Summerside

Definitions

Attachment: The seizure of a payor's property (in support cases this is usually the payor's income) so that it can be used to pay a debt (outstanding support payments).

Default: Failure to make support payments as agreed to in a support agreement/order.

Garnishment: To "attach" wages or other property to make a payment.

Jurisdiction: Province or Territory responsible for enforcing support agreements or court orders.

Payee: The person who receives support payments and the person who usually registers with the Maintenance Enforcement Program.

Payor: The person who makes support payments.

Wage Attachment: Deduction of a set amount of money from a person's salary, before the employer makes out a paycheque (to make sure that support is paid). This is done at the request of Maintenance Enforcement.

Credits

This information has been prepared by Community Legal Information Association of Prince Edward Island, Inc. It contains general information about family law and family court. It does not contain legal advice. To obtain legal advice, contact a lawyer.

If you don't know a lawyer, call the Lawyer Referral Service at 902-892-0853 in the Charlottetown area or 1-800-240-9798 toll-free. The Lawyer Referral Service provides you with a consultation with a lawyer for a small fee.

Community Legal Information Association of PEI, Inc. (CLIA) is a charitable organization that receives funding from the Department of Justice Canada, the PEI Department of Justice and Public Safety, the Law Foundation of PEI and other sources. CLIA provides Islanders with understandable and useful information about the law and the justice system in Prince Edward Island.

For more information, you can visit our website at www.cliapei.ca , email us at clia@cliapei.ca , or telephone us at 902-892-0853 or 1-800-240-9798. You can also find us at: www.facebook.com/CLIAPEI, www.twitter.com/CLIAPEI and www.youtube.com/CLIAPEI.

Non-commercial reproduction of this document is encouraged. Charitable registration number: 118870757RR0001

ISBN 978-1-897436-39-4

Revised November 2011