MEA and ISOA Amendments

 Legal News: Alberta, Legislative Update, News  Comments Off on MEA and ISOA Amendments
Dec 152016
 

MEA and ISO Amendments

Amendments to the Maintenance Enforcement Act [MEA] and the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act [ISOA] were made on November 22, 2016. These amendments affect collection of child and spousal support by the Maintenance Enforcement Program [MEP].


Amendment Highlights

  1. Further clarification of what occurs when a debtor applies for a stay of enforcement under the MEA. Effective November 23, 2016, unless the court directs otherwise, a stay has a duration of 9 months (increased from 3 months with the ability to extend for a further 6 months), is limited to arrears only, and does not apply to lump sum or one-time payments owed to the debtor. In the absence of specific direction in a stay, the MEP will continue to enforce ongoing support payments due and any related new arrears. There is also a new requirement that, prior to granting a stay, the court is satisfied that the debtor attempted to make a payment arrangement with MEP, or has provided reasons why a payment arrangement was not possible.
  2. A new requirement under the MEA that all clients keep contact information up-to-date with MEP, and that debtors also keep their employment, income, and other financial information current.
  3. Amendments to the ISOA which impact the interjurisdictional support order process. This includes clarifying choice of law provisions, expanding the definition of ‘support order’ to include administrative recalculations, reducing the amount of time for jurisdictions to respond to information requests by Alberta courts to 12 months, clarifying that an order made in Alberta is to be treated the same as an order registered in Alberta, and changing all references of ‘ordinarily resident’ to ‘habitually resident’ to align with 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.

FAQ

Why is it important that I be aware of these changes? To be aware of the new legislative requirements the court must consider prior to granting a stay of enforcement.

What key information should I know about these changes? These changes were the result of consultation and engagement activities between Alberta’s MEP, other Canadian jurisdictions’ MEPs, and Alberta-based lawyers, judges, clients, and Government of Alberta ministries.

How will these legislative changes affect me/my practice? When there are no specific terms in a stay of enforcement order, MEP interprets the stay of enforcement as being granted in accordance with the new amended s 32 of the MEA.

Prior to the court granting a stay of enforcement, the debtor is now required to show to the court that he or she attempted to make a payment arrangement with MEP, or provide reasons why a payment arrangement could not be made. MEP anticipates this change will encourage debtors to make a payment arrangement with MEP and this will reduce the number of court applications. To assist the courts in making this determination, MEP provides debtors with a written explanation if a payment arrangement is not possible.

Is there any additional key information I should know regarding these changes? These amendments do not change the MEA’s provisions which indicate that a stay of enforcement does not affect MEP’s ability to issue the following collections actions: a Federal Support Deduction Notice, motor vehicle restriction and/or suspension, federal license denial, Land Titles registrations, and writs at the Personal Property Registry.


Click here for more information , or call the Maintenance Enforcement Program at 1.780.422.5555.

Toll-free in Alberta: 310-0000: select the Program’s lawyer line.

MEP – Section 7 Expense Policy Changes

 Legal News: Alberta, News  Comments Off on MEP – Section 7 Expense Policy Changes
May 272016
 

 

 

Find out about MEP’s changes to section 7 expenses!

Are you a member of Alberta’s legal community who handles the preparation of child support orders? If so, did you know that the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) has changed how it enforces select types of section 7 expenses?

These changes were made as a result of feedback from the courts, the legal profession, and clients.

The new policy affects expense claims processed by MEP only on or after May 16, 2016, regardless of when the claims were received by MEP.  It does not affect any expense claims added to a MEP file prior to May 16, 2016.


The change doesn’t affect you if your court order or agreement

sets an amount for expenses or specifies what expenses are payable.


Changes

MEP will no longer enforce percentage or proportionate share of expenses unless:

  • the type of expense is clearly stated in the court order or agreement, or
  • the parties agree on the expenses to be shared.

As an administrative program, it is not MEP’s role to determine what expenses are reasonable and necessary for a family. MEP will continue to enforce orders that set a specific amount for section 7 expenses, or allow for proportionate shares of clearly specified expenses. MEP will no longer enforce general section 7 expenses, unless the parties agree to specific expenses in writing.

Find out more about what is considered to be too general for MEP to enforce.

Q & A

Here are some key questions we asked Miyo Bly, Family Support and Order Services (Alberta Justice and Solicitor General), regarding these changes.

Why is it important that I know about these changes?

We want the Alberta’s legal community to be aware of this change when preparing child support orders, so that clients can avoid the extra step of completing MEP’s Section 7 Expenses Agreement form or initiating further court action. We also want the Alberta legal community to be aware of the reasons that MEP may stop enforcing their client’s non-specific section 7 expenses, and the options available to ensure enforcement of specific section 7 expenses.”

How will changes to the S7 Expense Policy affect my practice?

When an order term is not specific enough for MEP to enforce, MEP will request they complete a Section 7 Expenses Agreement.  If parties cannot agree on the specific expenses, MEP will advise parties to have their court order changed to clarify their Section 7 expenses. MEP is expecting an increase in the number of people asking for legal advice and initiating legal action to have their child support order changed.”

What do I need to do?

MEP prefers that parties submit a completed Section 7 Expenses Agreement Form signed by both [parties], but where this is not feasible, MEP will attempt to facilitate agreement by forwarding the agreement completed by one party to the other.  The second party may agree or reject any or all of the proposed expenses listed in the draft agreement, and return a signed copy to MEP.”

Contact

If you have questions, please contact MEP at 780-422-5555 (toll-free in Alberta 310-0000) and select the Program’s lawyer line.