Enforcement Action for Child Support in Default in PEI
Anyone with a court order or agreement requiring child support (maintenance) payments has a legal obligation to pay on time and in full. Under PEI law, maintenance payments take priority over any other debt payment including a credit card, mortgage or car loan.
Maintenance orders and agreements enrolled with the PEI Maintenance Enforcement Program are monitored and, when necessary, action is taken to enforce any maintenance obligations that are unpaid.
Enforcement action does not guarantee payment. Some payors have no income or assets; others attempt to avoid payment. MEP will take all practicable means to continue to enforce payments as long as the case is enrolled with MEP.
What type of enforcement action is used?
Administrative Enforcement: Before any court action is considered, voluntary payment is pursued through administrative (non-court) enforcement.
The Maintenance Enforcement Act and federal laws give authority to apply certain restrictions to ensure payments are made on time and in full. Some restrictions include:
- Payment Order (garnishing income) - Anyone owing the payor money is legally required to pay all or a portion of the payment directly to MEP including wages, pension or income from assets.
- Federal Payment Interception - A portion of money the federal government owes to the payor can be intercepted or attached to be paid directly to MEP, including an income tax refund, employment insurance benefits, HST payments, CPP or Old Age Security.
- Credit Bureau - Maintenance arrears exceeding $3,000 can be reported to a credit reporting agency to form part of the payor’s credit history. This will impact the payor’s ability to qualify for a credit card or a loan for a home, vehicle or other necessity.
- Driver’s License - Highway Safety may be directed to refuse to issue or renew a payor’s driver’s license if maintenance arrears exceed $3,000.
- Passport or other federal license - The federal government may be instructed to suspend or refuse to issue or renew the payor’s passport and/or federal aviation or marine license until satisfactory payment arrangements are made.
These restrictions may be applied after other methods to collect have been tried unsuccessfully:
- The payor will be notified before the restriction is placed and offered the opportunity to either pay the arrears or arrange a suitable payment plan in addition to making regular payments.
- A restriction may apply for as long as the maintenance order/agreement is on file with MEP, until the payor arranges to pay the arrears, or until a review of the case prompts a decision to withdraw the restriction.
- A review of the case will be considered if the payor believes the arrears were less than $3,000 at the time of notice or that the restriction will reduce the ability to pay maintenance.
Please note: It is the responsibility or Maintenance Enforcement, not Highway Safety or the federal government to remove a restriction. Contact MEP to discuss arrangements for having documents re-issued or restrictions removed.
If administrative enforcement is not successful, court action may be required and a judge may take additional action to enforce payment including the possibility of jail.
- Corporate payments - A corporation owned by a payor, in full or partly, may be liable to pay maintenance and arrears.