Resolve Enforcement Issues
In June 2019, changes were made to two pieces of legislation related to family law: Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act (FOAEAA) and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act (GAPDA). These changes come into force either on Royal Assent (June 21, 2019) or over the next two-year period. This website will be updated as those changes in law come into effect.
If your situation has changed
Sometimes people stop paying support because things have changed. If there are important changes in your life, such as a new family to support or an illness that made it hard for you to continue working to earn income, you may be able to change your support order or agreement.
The federal government and Maintenance Enforcement Programs do not have the power to change a support order or agreement in any way.
Only a judge can change a support order. As a general rule, you must ask a judge to decide whether or not the amount of support set out in an order should be changed based on your new circumstances. You can also agree with your former spouse and ask the judge to give you a consent order.
In some cases, a recalculation service can change a support amount set out in an order if income changes. If so, you would not have to go to court to change the order. Several provinces and territories have recalculation services. Check the Inventory of Government-based Family Justice Services to find out if there is a recalculation service in your province or territory.
If you have a written agreement with your former spouse, you can also both agree to change the amount of support.
If your support order or agreement is registered with a Maintenance Enforcement Program or a court, it is important to notify the program or the court of any changes that are made to the order or agreement. Otherwise, the program may continue to enforce the old amount.
Garnishment and pension diversion issues
Change the amount being deducted
To discuss the amount taken from your federal salary, federal pension or other fund, contact the court or the Maintenance Enforcement Program that is enforcing the support order. The Department of Justice Canada cannot stop or change the garnishment of federal funds until it receives a request to do so from the court or from the Maintenance Enforcement Program. It cannot stop or change the diversion of a federal pension until it receives a written request in accordance the Pension Diversion Regulations.
If more money is taken than you owe
Sometimes there is a slight delay between the time that a Maintenance Enforcement Program decides that interception of federal funds may stop and the time it notifies the government of this. As a result, the federal government may seize more money than you owe. If this happens to you, contact the Maintenance Enforcement Program to sort out how to have any money returned to you.
Get details about a garnishment
To get details on a garnishment under the federal Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act, call the Department of Justice's automated system at 1-800-267-7777 or 613-960-7276 (or 1-800-267-7676 if you are hearing impaired). You need to have your social insurance number and the Department of Justice Canada reference number at hand when you call. You can find the reference number on the notice you received from the Department of Justice Canada.
By calling this number, you can find out:
- status of the garnishment
- financial terms of the garnishment
- details of the garnishment
- name, address and telephone number of the enforcement program
- a statement of payments garnisheed.
Contact your compensation advisor if you need details on the garnishment of your wages under the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act.
Find information about an enforcement action against you
For information about why a federal garnishment or federal licence denial application was submitted against you, please contact the applicable court or your provincial or territorial Maintenance Enforcement Program.
You can also obtain information from the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Unit`s (FOAEA) automated information system such as
- Status of your account
- Financial terms of the summons
- Details of the amounts garnished from your federal payments
The toll-free number for the automated information system is 1-800-267-7777 or 613-960-7276 (or 1-800-267-7676 for the hearing impaired). You will need the following information to access the system:
- your Social Insurance Number; and
- the Department of Justice Reference Number.
Find information about an enforcement action against someone other than yourself
For information about a federal garnishment or federal licence denial application submitted against someone other than yourself, please contact the court or the Maintenance Enforcement Program of the province in which the person to whom the information relates resides.
The FOAEA Unit may be able to provide you with certain information about a federal enforcement action taken against someone else if you need it to enforce a law or if you have the consent of the person to whom the information relates. If you qualify for those reasons, you must make your request in writing by filling out a Search Request and Consent Form (HTML) (PDF, 265k, PDF Help).
The consent portion of the form must be signed, except in specific situations explained on the form.
Get details about a pension diversion
To get information on the diversion of pension benefits under the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act, contact the pension centre administering your plan.
If your passport or federal licence is being suspended
Only a Maintenance Enforcement Program can apply to have your Canadian passport or federal licence suspended. This is often a last resort when other enforcement measures have failed. Usually, warning notices will be sent before a federal licence or passport is suspended. If you receive such a notice, you should contact the Maintenance Enforcement Program that sent you the notice. Program officials may agree not to suspend your licence or passport if you make arrangements to pay the amount you owe.
If your passport is suspended while you are travelling
If you are abroad when your passport is suspended, you have two choices:
- make arrangements to pay your support debt with the Maintenance Enforcement Program that asked for the suspension; or
- ask the closest Canadian government office, such as a Canadian embassy or consulate, to give you an emergency travel document. This document will let you return to Canada but it will not allow you to travel anywhere else. For more information, contact Passport Canada.
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