Introduction: Some Considerations for Practitioners in Inter-jurisdictional Support Cases

By Elizabeth Jollimore Q.C.

Just as child support guidelines are an example of the "substance" of the Child-Centered Family Justice Strategy, so is the inter-jurisdictional support order (ISO) legislation that has come into effect across Canada in the past four years.

When a relationship ends, one or more family members may relocate. Parents may move to find family support, to secure employment, to pursue an education or to join a new partner. Where children are involved and there is an obligation to pay child support, our federal system makes inter-jurisdictional support order legislation essential. No single jurisdiction can reach beyond its own borders to enforce a support obligation against a foreign payor. To enable family support orders and agreements made in one jurisdiction to be enforced in the jurisdiction where the support payor resides compels reliance on inter-jurisdictional support order legislation.

In "Some Considerations for Practitioners in Inter-jurisdictional Support Cases", Tracy Morrow briefly sketches the ISO legislation in each Canadian jurisdiction and provides a list of links to the ISO legislation in each common law province and territory, as well as additional reference information.

ISO legislation requires our clients to consider how they want to proceed with their claims and this paper provides a guide to making those decisions by identifying the questions that must be addressed. Morrow does this in a form that is easy to follow and which generates the "checklist" below.

  • Question 1: Does your client have a support order or agreement regarding this respondent and these children?
    If so, where was the support order made or agreement entered into?
    Does your client have a copy of it?
    Does your client want the existing support obligation enforced or varied?

  • Question 2: Is or was your client married to the respondent?
    1. Should your client file an application with the Court in his or her province or territory seeking child support pursuant to the applicable provincial or territorial family support law and have the "respondent" served outside of the province or territory?

    OR

    2. Should your client complete a Support Application on forms pursuant to The Inter-jurisdictional Support Orders Act?

  • Question 3: Does your client want or need a custody order as well?

  • Question 4: Where does the respondent live?

  • Question 5: Which procedure is "better": An ISO forms support application or an application to your own Court?

  • Question 6: If the client and the other party are married, should the client apply for child support pursuant to the Divorce Act or should the ISO forms application process be used?

  • Question 7: What about variation applications?

  • Question 8: What if your client is a respondent to an inter-jurisdictional application?

Gathering the information necessary to answer these questions alerts us to the important issues in our clients' cases and assists us in guiding them in using the ISO system to their maximum advantage.

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