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Family law: Child support payors find MEP system difficult

Families are having a tough go of it in economically stressful times. Although there are measures in place under family law in Alberta to help, more people are facing additional stress due to job losses which can affect couples and ultimately lead to divorce. As such, many payors of child support are also falling behind on their payments. Alberta has the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) in place to collect payments and has the authority to place restrictions on a payor financially.

Those who are part of the MEP system say it's difficult to navigate. Payors who are having problems with their payments say the process is flawed. To have their issues dealt with, they are told they must go back to court which is costly and time-consuming. And some say a judge will just tell them they have to go back to those looking after the MEP to rectify their issues.

Consequences of not adhering to the plan can be dire, such as loss of a driver's licence or passport. But the province says there are measures in place for payors to deal with problems. Each file has a case manager, they say, and the Child Support Recalculation Program paves the way annually for payors to have support payments adjusted according to their tax returns. 

When an Alberta resident who is paying child support is having difficulty, he or she may wish to discuss the issues with a family law lawyer. A lawyer may be able to provide insight as to what might be done to rectify any problems. Reasonable solutions are always better than enforcement actions.  

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