Changes to laws that will help children and families get court-ordered support payments were proclaimed today, March 29.
Amendments to the Maintenance Enforcement Act and regulations that improve collection of court-ordered child and spousal support payments were passed by the House of Assembly in 2016.
“Better enforcement will mean more financial stability for families experiencing family breakdown,” said Justice Minister Mark Furey. “We are committed to effective enforcement, better customer service and improved communication with families.”
The changes increase the program’s administrative authority to enforce orders, locate payors and share information.
The newly proclaimed amendments will:
— allow program staff to revoke, suspend or prohibit renewal of drivers licences and vehicle permits for payors in default without notice
— improve the flow of information between the courts and the program
— simplify the process for dealing with payments that have gone unclaimed
— transfer cases where administrative fees are owed to Service Nova Scotia for collection
Amendments to the act, have been rolled out in phases. The proclamation of these changes are the second and final phase. The initial phase proclaimed in October, included an improved garnishment process, language changes, and information sharing improvements.
The 2018-19 provincial budget continues to make the collection of support payments a priority. The clawback of child support payments for families on income assistance will be eliminated and $1.5 million will be invested in technology supports for more consistent enforcement and improved client service.
The Maintenance Enforcement Program collects and pays out about $232,000 a day to families. It supports 14,200 Nova Scotia families. About 15,000 children rely on support payments made through this program. Nearly 96 per cent of all recipients in the program are women.
For more on the Maintenance Enforcement Program, visit https://mep.novascotia.ca/en/resources