Amendments passed last fall to strengthen the province’s ability to collect court-ordered child and spousal support are now in effect.
“There are more than 15,000 Nova Scotian children who rely on these court-ordered payments,” said Justice Minister Mark Furey. “We are committed to stronger enforcement. We’re working hard to improve this program by providing better customer service and improved communication with families who rely on us.”
The key changes give government authority to seize and hold funds beyond what is owed and use those funds for future payments for someone who is repeatedly late with payments. These could include monies on deposit in banks, lottery winnings, inheritance, and surplus sale proceeds.
Other changes include:
— an increased ability to improve collections and better locate an evasive payor by obtaining information such as a payor’s social insurance number and other identifying information
— establishing new rules allowing notices to be served via email or by other electronic communication
— an improved garnishment process making it easier to seize assets of a payor in persistent arrears
— defining “persistent arrears” as failure to make full payments over three payment periods or accumulated money owed of more than $3,000
— language changes and minor housekeeping items.
The amendments are being proclaimed and new regulations rolled out in phases. This is the first phase. More amendments will be proclaimed later this year and in 2018.
The program is also adding five new positions, including two new enforcement officers and a trainer.
For more information on the Maintenance Enforcement Program visit: https://mep.novascotia.ca/en/resources.