What do you do when you can't pay up?
August 2, 2022
Child Support: What do you do when you can't pay up?
We’ve all heard the term child support, but what is it really?
The courts view the payment of child support as a right of the child and this right is taken very seriously.
The parent or guardian who pays support is called the “payor.” The parent or guardian who receives the support is called the “recipient.”
Child support is the obligation of a parent or guardian to pay support for a child based on the paying parent or guardian’s income. The child support also varies depending on the number of children for whom support is paid. In other words, the child support amount increases with the number of children. For example, if the payor lives in BC and has an income of $50,000, the payor would pay $470/month in child support for one child, $781/month for two children, $1,029/month in child support for three children, and so on.
What happens when you get behind?
What happens when you get behind on making these child support payments also known as being in arrears? The answer really depends on the facts that will inevitably be unique to your situation. But broadly, here is what can happen:
- You and the recipient can talk about the change that may have led to you being behind in payment. For example, if you lost your job and haven’t been able to find another one, the recipient may be willing to cooperate with you and wait a few months before taking steps to seek or obtain a court order for child support or enforce an existing court order or agreement.
- If there is a court order or written agreement, and the recipient has already registered the court order or written agreement with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (or “FMEP” for short), then FMEP can start taking enforcement measures against you. For example, FMEP can garnish your wages, intercept any federal incomes or money you are going to receive such as income tax refunds or EI, cancel your driver’s licence or prevent its renewal, take you to court for unpaid support payments, and so on.
- If there is a court order or written agreement, whether or not FMEP is taking enforcement steps, the recipient can go to court to enforce payment in accordance with the order or agreement. You will in a position then to explain why you are behind in payments. You may also want to consider making a court application, if you haven’t already, to vary or change the child support payable by you.
- If you and the recipient don’t agree to any changes in your child support obligations, then you can (and likely should) make a court application to vary or change the child support payable by you under a court order or agreement.
Follow the agreement
Keep in mind that if there is a court order or written agreement between you and the recipient, you should be following it. But if for some reason you cannot, and you and the recipient don’t agree on the change, then you should make a court application to vary or change that court order or agreement. Part of that court application could be to cancel or set aside any arrears of child support.
If you are behind in making payments for child support or need help navigating the court system on this issue, come see us and we’d be happy to assist you in determining the viability of your case.
KANCHAN K. DHAHAN
Kanchan has extensive experience in family law and is the head of the Family Law Group at Kane Shannon Weiler LLP.
Kanchan was born in Vancouver, BC. She spent 8 years of her childhood in her ancestral village in Dhahan, Punjab, India. As a result, she can fluently read, write, and speak Punjabi.
Kanchan graduated from law school at the University of British Columbia in December 2010 and was called to the Bar in BC in March 2012. She articled and practised in Langley, BC for several years and practised in Prince George, BC between 2014 and 2016, before becoming an independent contractor...
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