CHILD SUPPORT PROCESSES
OPTIONS FOR CANADA

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

An administrative child support system can neither operate in a vacuum nor be completely separated from the legal and social context in a given jurisdiction. In addition, in order to be both efficient and accepted as a legitimate process, the child support model should be integrated into the existing family justice framework.

Designing the specifics of the most appropriate approach is a task for the provincial governments. This report is intended to provide an overview of some of the programs already operating successfully in other places. The focus is on those models that could potentially have the most relevance in Canada, given the constitutional limitations operating in this country.

In addition, general comments are made about the effectiveness of modelling these various approaches and about some of the potential implications arising out of adopting a particular approach.

INTRODUCTION

There are a number of existing child support programs operating in other jurisdictions; however, not all of these programs are suitable for Canada, given the constitutional constraints operating in this country. Rather, various components of these programs provide a useful starting point for eventual development of a Canadian child support scheme.

Most jurisdictions have moved toward administrative processing as much as possible for certain categories of child support cases, notably social assistance cases and those cases where application has been made for the child support agency's services. The administrative processing approach is most suited to those cases where child support might be addressed as a single or independent issue. However, child support can potentially arise in a number of different scenarios, all requiring varying approaches and, as such, an effective child support scheme should provide access to, and interconnectedness with, alternative approaches whenever possible.

This report provides an overview of some of the legal constraints operating in Canada and, in light of these constraints, workable models are discussed. The general recommended approach for a Canadian jurisdiction is illustrated at Appendix A. The dispute resolution processes are visually presented at Appendix B.

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