The Family Maintenance Enforcement Act [RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 127, establishes the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (“FMEP”). This is a service of British Columbia’s Ministry of Justice. The FMEP helps families and children entitled to maintenance, such as child support and spousal support, under maintenance orders or agreements. FMEP’s goal is to collect support payments and replace the challenges and costs of enforcing support orders privately. The FMEP is responsible for monitoring and enforcing all orders and agreements that are filed with them.
The FMEP is responsible for collecting the amount owing under a maintenance order or agreement, tracking payments by having the payor send the maintenance to FMEP, forwarding the maintenance to the recipient, and taking enforcement action if payments are not made.
Both the payor and the recipient can enroll by submitting an application to the FMEP Enrolment Office along with a copy of the support order. When enrolment is complete, the recipient and the payor receive Notices of Enrolment which confirm the maintenance order or agreement is enrolled. The Notices set out the amounts to be paid and instruct the payor to send all future maintenance payments to FMEP.
THE FMEP has authority to take various steps to enforce payment including:
requiring anyone who owes the payor money to pay it directly to FMEP;
requesting that the court order a payor to provide future security for support payments from any large source of funds such as an inheritance;
registering a lien against land or personal property;
instructing ICBC to refuse to issue or renew the payor’s driver’s license;
requesting the federal government to suspend or refuse to renew the payor’s passport; and
requesting a search of the payor’s location, employment and assets through federal and provincial databases.