Child Support Services Policy

Published Date: September 30, 2016
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03 Case Management

Applicant Assessment

Special Circumstances

INTENT

To enable Child Support Services (CSS) to make case management decisions when applicants have special circumstances.

POLICY

Dependant with Caregiver

When neither of the parents reside with the dependant, the applicant is the caregiver and the respondents are both parents.

If there is an existing support order or agreement with a clause which specifies that support be directed to “whomever has care and control of the dependant”, the order or CSS 45 Support Agreement can be registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP).

When no agreement or order exists, the Child Support Worker (CSW):

  • Completes the CSS 4010 Applicant Affidavit with the caregiver. Only a parent is responsible for paying child support. The caregiver’s finances are never used in the child support calculation.
     
  • Contacts the respondent(s) and attempts to negotiate a support agreement.
     
  • Proceeds with court action if a support agreement cannot be negotiated and there is potential for the respondent(s) to pay child support.

No Crown Claims

There are currently three groups of assistance clients where no Crown claim exists:

  • Sponsored Immigrants (Family Class): This is one type of Landed Immigrant where the sponsor is financially responsible to provide for all the needs of the immigrant and accompanying dependants. When sponsors default on their obligations, the sponsored immigrant may be issued assistance. The federal Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) gives authority to the department to recover all benefits directly from the sponsor.

    Note
    A Crown claim would exist for the other categories of immigrants i.e. refugee class, economic class.
     
  • Employment Insurance assignment of benefits (AOB): Clients who have signed an INS 3113 Assignment of Benefits with the financial worker while awaiting Employment Insurance can apply for assistance as the AOB provides for repayment of benefits once the EI is received.

In both cases, the assistance benefits are repaid to the department by the sponsor or by the applicant (AOB) and therefore there is no Crown claim.

  • Client Category/Type One-Time Issue 81 or 82: No Crown claim is made for the months a client receives benefits as a one-time Issue.

CSS provides full services to these client groups and if a support agreement/order is obtained, directs that the support be paid directly to the applicant.

Applicant Under 18 Years of Age

Before any discussions with the minor’s parent(s)/guardian(s), the CSW obtains the minor applicant’s consent.

Note
The requirement to obtain consent does not apply to applicants involved in the Strengthening Hope Program.

The CSW initiates court action and ensures the department lawyer is notified when the applicant is a minor. The minor applicant does not need to appear in court unless otherwise required to be there.

Strengthening Hope Program (SHP)

Applicants submitting applications into LISO for the SHP will be eligible for CSS Services under the Non –EI Learners policy. The applicants involved in the SHP may be under the age of 18 years and could be living independently. An applicant may name a respondent who is under the age of 18 years. 

The CSW completes an applicant assessment interview to collect the required information necessary to make a case management decision about child support action. if the CSW decides to initiate court action or obtain a Statement of Parentage, the department lawyer is notified.  

Applicant in the Witness Protection Program

When an applicant tells the CSW they have been granted a new identity under the Justice Canada Witness Protection Program Act, the CSW does not pursue child support action when the applicant/respondent relationship was during the time prior to the establishment of the new identify. Under the federal legislation, the applicant’s new identity is protected and direct or indirect information about their location or change in identity cannot be disclosed.

The worker does not collect or record any information that may provide a linkage to their original identity and compromise the safety of the applicant.

If the dependants are from a relationship subsequent to the applicant’s new identify, the CSW pursues child support when the CSW determines there is a potential for child support.

Applicant with Family Violence Issues

CSS does not take any action that may place an applicant or their children at risk.

The purpose of the worker making the assessment is to determine whether the action of pursuing child support will increase the risk of family violence.

In the rare situation where the applicant wants to proceed to obtain child support after the CSW has assessed the applicant’s circumstances and determined that CSS will not proceed, the applicant is given consent to proceed themselves and referred to Legal Aid or other legal resources.

As with other family circumstances the threat of potential family violence changes over time and life events, therefore, the CSW re-assesses the potential for family violence in response to applicant information on active files and completes an assessment of the current situation when files re-open.

CSS Applicants and the Recalculation Program

Effective January 2010, the Recalculation Program (RP) through Alberta Justice provides an administrative review of a child support agreement or order on an annual basis for eligible agreements/orders. An eligible agreement/order means an order obtained without imputed income or judicial discretion in the determination of the respondent’s guideline income. This service can be accessed by either the applicant or the respondent at a cost of $75.00 for each party and may result in the amount of the agreement/order being increased or decreased according to the parties’ current income tax information. The RP only deals with on-going support and makes no changes to any arrears. 

Note
Neither CSS nor IS covers the $75 fee for the RP. 

The RP issues Recalculation Decisions that are filed with the original order at court. The RP does not create a new agreement/order and is not considered a variation. 

Existing Agreement/Order

The CSW provides information on the RP to applicants with existing agreements/orders and encourages the applicant to register with the RP.   

Agreements/Orders when Respondent has no Ability to Pay

The applicant is informed that when the respondent has no ability to pay the CSW assesses whether to pursue a support order with no or very limited dollars.  The applicant is expected to register these orders with the RP to allow for the annual recalculation which in time should provide a greater amount of child support.