Child Support Services Policy

Published Date: April 05, 2012
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05 Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)

MEP Registration: Authority, Intent, Policy

CASS Regulation Section 4
IESA Section 29(3)(f)(g), Section 29(9) and Section 31

The Director has all the rights to support of a person who is receiving assistance. This includes the right to refer a support agreement/order to the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) for enforcement, to direct support payments to the government or to require the person to remain registered with MEP if support payments are directed to that person.

INTENT

To ensure the best interests of children are met by making efforts to maximize the amount of support received by families.

POLICY

If a person in receipt of income support is not receiving full and regular support according to the terms of their support agreement/order, the Director registers the legally enforceable agreement/order with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) to have the support payments directed to the Crown. This ensures parents, not government, meet the primary financial responsibility for children. If a person is receiving their support payments from MEP, the Director can require the person to remain registered with MEP during the time they receive financial support and/or benefits.

The Maintenance Enforcement Program, Alberta Justice, provides a free collection and enforcement service to Albertans who have:

  • Support Orders, or
  • Enforceable Support Agreements

Payments to the Crown

To avoid the necessity of monitoring support payments, to protect the budget concerns for the income support client, and to ensure the Crown’s interests are protected the Child Support Worker (CSW) refers for registration:

  • All legally enforceable support agreements and orders obtained through the Child Support Services (CSS) program unless there has been a history of full and regular payments on an unenforceable agreement.
  • Existing orders for clients with new or reopened CSS files when the other parent is not a full and regular payer.
  • Existing orders for the client if the client or other parent requests registration.

Payments to the Client

The CSW does not refer the order for registration when the other parent is a full and regular payer and payments are made directly to the client. In these circumstances, the support is deducted from the client’s income support budget.

If the payments stop or become irregular, the CSW refers the agreement or order to MEP and requests the support payments be forwarded to the Crown.

No Crown Support Claims

When a client receives income support and:

  • Is a sponsored immigrant (Family Class), or
  • Has signed an INS 3113 Assignment of Benefits (AOB) agreeing to repay assistance benefits once they receive EI benefits and the financial worker has confirmed an AOB arrangement exists, or
  • Was referred to the CSS program manually regarding an adult support order, or
  • Is a Non-EI learner receiving income support through the learner payment system, or
  • Benefits are issued under Client Category/Type One-Time Issue 81 or 82, or
  • Was referred manually from a band that does not use the Local Income Support Applications System (LISA) to issue income support benefits to off-reserve applicants.

there is no Crown claim. The CSW requests the support payments be forwarded to the creditor.

When a client receives AAHB there is no Crown claim. The CSW informs the client to complete their own MEP Registration.

Child Support Disbursements for Assistance Clients

When the government has the right to a person’s support, the CSS program determines how this right will be exercised, depending upon the type of assistance received and the method of payment to the client. The following chart describes the types of MEP registrations for assistance clients. For the purpose of the CSS program, clients are referred to as “applicants”.

When support payments are directed to the applicant and registration with MEP is mandatory, the person must remain registered with MEP during the time they are receiving assistance.

Support Payments Directed to the Crown
Applicant Receives (or Received) Income Support via LISA
  • Existing support agreement/order and payments have not been made according to the terms of the agreement/order
  • New support agreement/order and no history of regular voluntary support payments
  • Term Order
  • Crown arrears
Support Payments Directed to the Applicant: Mandatory MEP Registration by Applicant
Applicant Receives Income Support via LISA
  • Applicant is a sponsored immigrant
  • Applicant has signed an Assignment of Benefits (AOB)
  • Applicant was self-registered at MEP, receives support payments from MEP according to the terms of the support agreement/order, and there are no outstanding arrears.
  • Applicant has no dependants, receives adult support and was manually referred to CSS.
Applicant Receives AISH Benefits
  • Applicant receives adult support
Applicant Receives AAHB
  • LISA is not used to issue income support benefits to Non-EI Learners.
Applicant Receives Non-EI Learner Benefits
  • LISA is not used to issue income support benefits to Non-EI Learners.
Support Payments Directed to the Applicant: Non-Mandatory MEP Registration by Applicant
First Nations Off-Reserve Applicants Receive Income Support – Manual Referrals
  • Bands delivering income support do not use LISA to issue benefits
Applicant Receives AISH Benefits
  • Child support; and the applicant has no adult support
Other Assistance Clients – One-Time Issues, Manual Referrals
  • Income Support applicants not currently system referred to TOMIS
Applicant receives AAHB
  • All client catagories for applicant receiving AAHB

MEP Registration – Applicants Not Receiving Assistance

When the CSS program has obtained a support agreement/order for an applicant who is not receiving assistance and the agreement/order was not backdated for a period of time the person received assistance, the applicant is referred to MEP for information about registering their agreement/order for enforcement.

If the CSW has respondent information previously obtained for the CSS file when the creditor received CSS services, minimal required information, e.g. date of birth, about the respondent may be provided to the applicant at her request to enable registration of the order with MEP. [CASS Regulation Section 4(3)]

The applicant is responsible to notify MEP when their assistance file is closed so MEP is aware if the applicant wants to opt out of MEP or have the child support payments redirected to them.

MEP Registration – Other Client Groups

To determine the expectations for registering agreements/orders with MEP for other client groups, the CSW refers to CSS Policy for Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), Alberta Adult Health Benefits (AAHB), Non-EI LearnersFirst NationsOne-Time Issues and Albertans with Low Income clients.

When the creditor is no longer receiving assistance and the CSW is not pursuing ongoing support for the creditor but has obtained a term order for the time period the creditor received assistance, the CSW registers the order with MEP and requests the payments be directed to the Crown. The CSW notifies the creditor in writing about the MEP registration.