Recent news reports have painted a discouraging portrait of the provincial Maintenance Enforcement program. According to a recent CBC story, 58% of court-ordered child and spousal support cases in Nova Scotia are in arrears. The money owing tops $64 million. Some of the current difficulties are being attributed to the program’s recent move to New Waterford, which was accompanied by the need to hire and train many new enforcement officers and assistants (for more on this, click here)
However, not all the news on support enforcement is negative. On November 1, 2014, the NS Department of Justice expanded the Administrative Recalculation of Child Maintenance Program. This program provides for an automatic recalculation of child support if there is a Court Order or a written agreement registered with the Court that authorizes this. The program now operates throughout Nova Scotia for Orders under both the Maintenance and Custody Act and the Divorce Act.
Enrolling in the Program
If a parent is starting a court application, or applying to vary child support, then as part of that application, they can apply for an Order to authorize recalculation.
The authorization to enter the Program may be in a separate Order or can be part of a comprehensive Agreement or Order (including a Corollary Relief Order). If a parent has an existing Order that specifically authorizes recalculation, then that Order may be filed under the new Regulations.
There are some situations that are not eligible for recalculation under the Program:
- Retroactive support;
- Arrears of support;
- Changes in circumstances (other than a change to someone’s income based on their previous year’s income);
- Relief other than the Table amount of child support; and
- In situations where determining the payor’s income is not straightforward.
As well, the Regulations do not permit the Court to make an Order authorizing recalculation in a number of situations, including:
- Where the payor and/or recipient do not ordinarily reside in Nova Scotia at the time the Order is issued;
- Interim Orders;
- Shared custody; and
- The payor’s income is over $150,000 and the child support is an amount other than the Table amount.
Eligibility for the Program
If a parent is eligible for the program, the payor’s annual income will be calculated in accordance with the Child Maintenance or Child Support Guidelines. A payor will be required by a Court Order to file financial information, and he or she will be reminded of this before the deadline.
If a payor does not provide some or all of the information, the recalculation clerk may deem income to the payor in an amount 10% higher than the amount in the most recent Order.
The Nova Scotia Table will be used to calculate the amount of child support payable, and the recalculated Order takes effect 31 days after the parties are notified.
It is possible to object to a recalculated Order by making an application to vary, rescind, or suspend the Order within a specific deadline. The objector is required to notify the recalculation clerk in writing if an application is filed. If the objection is filed within the deadline, the recalculated order is suspended until there is a decision about the objection, or the application is withdrawn. The most recent Order addressing child support will remain in place until the issue is resolved.
The Family Law Nova Scotia website has a helpful section of Frequently Asked Questions: http://www.nsfamilylaw.ca/child-support/administrative-recalculation-program#1154.
Parents can also contact the Administrative Recalculation Program at:
Administrative Recalculation of Child Maintenance Program
P.O. Box 23
Halifax, NS B3J 2L4
Direct phone: 902-424-0600
Toll-free: 1-844-424-0600 (outside metro Halifax)
And, of course, we would be glad to help!