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The COVID-19 crisis has created financial uncertainty for Canadians, including many who are faced with temporary lay offs. A temporary lay off creates a unique circumstance for the payment of child support. Child support payments are usually based on the payor’s most recent income information, but a temporary lay off brings sudden reduction in earnings, impacting the payor’s ability to pay child support during the lay off period. When their employment resumes, a payor may be able to recommence payment of their full child support obligations.
Ordinarily, a payor of child support can file an application to the Court for a temporary reprieve of child support obligations, or interim reduction until work resumes. However, both the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and Provincial Court of Alberta have suspended all hearings in family matters, except those family matters that are considered an emergency or urgent. A Court application for a reduction in support payments is not available until the Court restarts their normal operations, or unless the Court deems the application to be an urgent matter.
If your Order for child support is enforced through the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP), MEP will offer a temporary payment arrangement or a temporary decrease in a payment arrangement. This is available for payors of support who have lost income because of COVID-19 diagnosis, self-isolation, a loss of work or reduction in income due to COVID-19, or those impacted by the lost of child care and school closures. Any assistance provided by MEP is temporary and may only result in a deferral of current payment obligations. It is important to be aware that this may not result in a cancellation of ongoing payments and may only delay child support obligations to another date.
Another option available to payors is to negotiate a temporary reduction in support payments with the recipient of child support. If you are going to negotiate support with the other parent, parents are encouraged to ensure that children’s needs are met in both households. A sudden reduction in income does not mean that a child’s financial needs have stopped.
If you or the other parent have been faced with a change in your income or financial circumstances due to COVID-19, the Collaborative Process is available to assist parties in reaching a resolution regarding a temporary reduction in support payments. A Collaborative Professional can assist payors and recipients of child support with the following:
Birdsell Grant LLP
Joanna was raised in Olds, Alberta. Joanna’s passion for family law grew during her articles with Birdsell Grant LLP, where she gained experience in family law, as well as other areas of law including general civil litigation, estate litigation, employment law, wills, estates, residential real estate, as well as corporate and commercial law. This general background gives Joanna a solid knowledge base to assist family law clients, and a unique perspective on the legal issues touching family law.
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