Many parents are experiencing economic hardship as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Usually, a parent who is paying child support will apply to court if he or she has a change in income. With Covid-19, the Court is only hearing urgent applications and an application to change child support payments is unlikely to fit within the Court’s definition of “urgent”.
Applications to the Court by the Saskatchewan Maintenance Enforcement Office (“MEO”) have also been suspended. The MEO is able to enforce a court order for child support if the order is registered with the MEO. The MEO does not have the authority to change the amount of court ordered child support, but it may be able to work with the paying parent to temporarily enforce payment of a lesser amount than that ordered by the Court. The MEO will deal with requests to lessen amounts payable on a case by case basis where someone has lost employment and has no income. In such cases, it is important that the paying parent speak to his or her Maintenance Enforcement Officer to discuss options.
The parent receiving child support may also want to contact his or her Maintenance Enforcement Officer, especially to provide information about the paying parent’s job status and/or income. Staying in contact with your Maintenance Enforcement Officer will ensure he or she is better informed and able to make decisions regarding enforcement of child support.
If a child support order is not registered with the MEO, and the paying parent is paying less than ordered or stops making child support payments altogether, the receiving parent has other options for enforcing child support. One such option is often called garnishment and it is a method of seizing funds directly from entities such as the paying parent’s employer or bank. Before attempting to garnish funds, you should try to work with the other parent to reach an agreement. If attempts to reach an agreement are not successful, the parent who ought to be receiving child support should seek legal advice regarding the possibility of garnishment.