My Ex Is Not Paying Child Support
| Alert: Extensive changes to family law in British Columbia came into effect on March 18, 2013. JP Boyd on Family Law has extensive, updated coverage of Child Support Arrears.
Any parent — married or unmarried — of a dependant child has a responsibility to provide child support (financial support) for that child. The usual amount that he or she should pay is set out in the Child Support Guidelines. The amount depends on how many children there are and what the payor parent earns. Stepparents may also be required to pay child support.
If you have a court order
- You can enroll with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, also called FMEP. FMEP will take steps, including further court action, to enforce the order for you. FMEP is a free program, and probably the simplest way to collect on a child support order from a reluctant payor. You can speed up the registration process by getting a court-certified copy of your support order from the Court Registry, and providing this to FMEP.
What happens next
Once you have registered with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, one of its workers will contact the other parent to see if he or she will agree to make voluntary payments. If that doesn't work, FMEP can take a number of steps against the other parent, such as garnishing pay cheques or bank accounts, intercepting Employment Insurance payments and income tax refunds, and arranging for withholding driver's licenses or passports.
If you do not have a court order
- You may wish to contact a Family Justice Centre. Counsellors at Family Justice Centres can provide information, mediation and assistance with applications involving child or spousal support in Family Court.
- Self-help information is available online at the Family Law in BC website. Click on "Self-help guides" under the "Shortcuts" option, then scroll down to "Family orders". There is a guide for situations where the parents agree on what an order should say, and those where they have not agreed.
- To apply for child support in Family Court, complete an Application to Obtain an Order (PCFR Form 1). You can get an Application to Obtain an Order online or from any Provincial Court registry. If possible, include what the person earns in the space provided in your Application to Obtain and Order. If the situation is unusually urgent, you may ask that the order be "without notice," meaning that the court will make its order without your ex-partner having a chance to be heard or being notified in advance. Without notice orders are very unusual and always interim, meaning short-term. The other person will eventually get to speak to the judge before a final order is made.
What happens next
Once you have filed an Application to Obtain an Order asking for child support and had it served on the other parent (who is now called the respondent), the respondent will be required to file a Reply and a Financial Statement (or a statement of finances for FMEP matters). A date will be set for a hearing by the Family Court registry. Check with the Registry, as some of them will have additional steps called Rule 5 you must take before they set a hearing date.
If the respondent doesn't file a Reply or Financial Statement, the judge may order him or her to do so or accept your evidence of what he or she is earning, without your ex's participation. You may have to ask the Registry for a hearing date if no Reply is filed.
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, to enrol with the program for free.
- Family Law in BC website, for forms, self-help materials and other legal information about child and spousal support.
- Family duty counsel (Provincial or Supreme), for some assistance on the day you have to appear in court.
- Family Justice Centres, to make an appointment with a family justice counsellor to discuss support.
- Family LawLINE.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common question "My ex stopped paying child support when he moved out of province."
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Stephen Wright, April 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
In family law, the natural or adoptive father or mother of a child; may also include stepparents, depending on the circumstances and the applicable legislation; may include the donors of eggs or sperm and surrogate mothers, depending on the circumstances and the terms of any assisted reproduction agreement. See "adoptive parent," "natural parent," and "stepparent."
In law, a person who relies on someone else for their support and the necessities of life. See "child," "child support," and "spousal support."
Money paid by one parent or guardian to another parent or guardian as a contribution toward the cost of a child's living and other expenses.
A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority."
A mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision," and "declaration."
A court proceeding in which one party sues another for a specific remedy or relief, also called a "lawsuit" or a "case." An action for divorce, for example, is a court proceeding in which the claimant sues the respondent for the relief of a divorce order.
A dispute resolution process in which a specially-trained neutral person facilitates discussions between the parties to a legal dispute and helps them reach a compromise settling the dispute. See "alternative dispute resolution" and "family law mediator."
A payment made by one spouse, the payor, to the other spouse, the recipient, to help with their day-to-day living expenses or to compensate the recipient for the financial choices the spouses made during the relationship.
A legal document required by the Provincial Court Family Rules to start a court proceeding which sets out the relief sought by the applicant against the person named as respondent. See "action," "applicant," "pleadings," "relief," and "respondent."
A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court, and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a family court proceeding. The Family Court of the Provincial Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."
A central office, located in each judicial district, at which the court files for each court proceeding in that district are maintained, and at which legal documents can be filed, searched, and reviewed; a courthouse.
A person appointed by the federal or provincial government to manage and decide court proceedings in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the parties, the government, or agents of the government. The decisions of a judge are binding upon the parties to the proceeding, subject to appeal.
The person against whom a claim has been brought by Notice of Family Claim. See “application” and “Notice of Family Claim."
A legal document required by the Provincial Court Family Rules to respond to a claim made in an applicant's Application to Obtain an Order. See "applicant," "Application to Obtain an Order," "claim," and "Counterclaim."
A legal document required by the rules of court in which a party to a court proceeding involving child support, spousal support, the division of property, or the division of debt must describe their income, expenses, assets, and liabilities under oath or affirmation. See "affirm," "oath," and "perjury."
In law, any proceeding before a judicial official to determine questions of law and questions of fact, including the hearing of an application and the hearing of a trial. See "decision" and "evidence."
Facts or proof of facts presented to a judge at a hearing or trial. Evidence can be given through the oral testimony of witnesses, in writing as business records and other documents, or in the form of physical objects. Evidence must be admissible according to the rules of court and the rules of evidence. See "circumstantial evidence," "hearsay," and "testimony."
A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."
A lawyer or a person other than a lawyer who helps clients with legal issues; to argue a position on behalf of a client.
In law, a court proceeding; a lawsuit; an action; a cause of action; a claim. Also the historic decisions of the court. See "action," "case law, " "court proceeding," and "precedent."