The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic discusses the enforcement of a Court Order for child or spousal support.
Spousal or Child Support Order may be enforced by the Director of Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program or by taking collection steps through the Court of Queen’s Bench.
To have the Director of Alberta Maintenance enforce your Support Order, contact them to register your Order with the Maintenance Enforcement Program. You will need to provide them with a copy of your Court Order for support. If there is past support owing, you will need to provide an Affidavit of Arrears to show how much money is owed. You must also send information on the individual receiving the support. Registration packages are available from any Provincial Court in Alberta, or Social Services and Community Health Offices in your area. You may also request the forms by calling 780-310-0000 and then the Edmonton number.
The Alberta Enforcement Program will enforce the Support Order as it was issued by the Court. It cannot change the Court Order, nor will it deal with any family disputes. Access to the child, the amount of support being paid, or the earning potential of either party must be changed by going to Court and asking to change the original Court Order. You should consult with a Lawyer if you want to change your original Order. A Court Order cannot be changed unless there is a significant change in the circumstances since the last Support Order was issued.
Once your Support Order is registered with the program, the individual providing the support will be notified and told to make all support payments directly to the Director of Maintenance Enforcement. Once the payments are received and cleared through the bank, the Director will forward a government cheque to individual receiving the support.
If the individual providing the support falls behind in making support payments, the Director of Maintenance Enforcement has the power to enforce the debt by:
- Demanding to see the financial statements of the payer
- Transferring money from the payer’s salary, or bank accounts
- Transferring money from any federal money owing to the payer such as tax refunds, GST rebates and employment insurance payments
- Registering a lien on motor vehicle services so that the payer may not renew licenses or obtain a driver’s abstract
- Suspending the payer’s driver’s license
- Asking the Court to put the payer spouse in jail, although this is usually the last resort
Alberta has a Reciprocal Maintenance Enforcement Agreement with the other provinces and territories in Canada, the United States and some countries. If your spouse or former partner leaves the province of the country, the Support Order will be sent to that province or country and the enforcement will be carried out there. Alberta will also collect support payments for other provinces or countries. Alberta will collect the money owed from the payer who lives in Alberta and does not pay their support payments.
You may also collect the outstanding support payments through the Court of Queen’s Bench. You would follow the same procedure as collecting on any other Judgment. You should hire a lawyer to represent you as the Court procedures are complicated. You can ask to have money from your spouse or former partner’s salary or bank accounts transferred to you, or have assets seized.