Support orders, agreements or arbitration awards can be registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Office (MEO). This includes child support orders or agreements that have been recalculated. See Changing Child Support for more information on recalculating. Once registered, payments are made through the MEO. Payments are monitored and if a payment is missed or is late the MEO can take action to enforce the order, agreement or award.
Either party to a support order, agreement or award can register the order with the MEO. Typically people will do this if they have concerns about the other party making the payments. People may also want to register so that the MEO can keep track of payments or so they do not need to deal directly with the other party.
To register you will need to fill out a Registration form. You can get a Registration form from the MEO or from a Court of Queen’s Bench. You will also need a copy of your support order, agreement or award. Agreements need to be filed with the court and stamped before they can be registered.
If payments are not being made the MEO can take action including:
- taking wages, other income or bank accounts and using this money to pay support owing
- taking payments from the federal government such as Employment Insurance, Canada Pension, Old Age Security, grain advances, Revenue Canada refunds or GST rebates and using them to pay support owing
- seizing and selling personal property, such as a vehicle and using the proceeds of the sale to pay support owing
- putting a lien on any real property so it cannot be sold, re-mortgaged or leased, unless payment arrangements are made with the Maintenance Enforcement Office
- suspending the payor’s driver’s licence
- requiring the payor to appear in court to explain why payments have not been made (The judge presiding over the default hearing may make an order to put the payor in jail for up to 90 days for contempt of the support order or agreement.)
Some of these actions can be taken by individuals themselves if the order is not registered with the MEO. However, individuals cannot do things like suspend the person’s driver’s licence or require the person to appear in court. Individuals who are enforcing agreements, orders or awards on their own are responsible for the costs of doing this. Because certain procedures must be followed to take these actions, individuals trying to collect on their own may need the help of a lawyer.