In accordance with the law, debtors who owe child support must comply with support orders or legal agreements to pay support. If debtors do not pay support, the federal, provincial and territorial laws set out a number of tools to assist in enforcing support obligations. The Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) in Alberta is one of those tools.
MEP collects court-ordered child support, as well as spousal and partner support, and enforces whenever needed. The program also sets out a number of penalty and service fees charged to users in order to partially offset the costs of their assistance and attributing programs, (like the Recalculation Program). MEP has not made any changes to their penalty and service fees since 2005, while their costs when debtors and creditors do not comply with requirements continue to rise. The upcoming increases in fees will take effect August 1, 2017 to allow MEP to maintain a satisfactory level of service to Alberta’s users, as well as encourage debtors to meet their court ordered and legal obligations.
The following is a list of the scheduled increases released by MEP:
|Penalty or Service Fee||Current Rate||New Rate as of August 1, 2017|
|Debtor Default Penalty (for late or non-payment)||$25 per month||$40 per month|
|Debtor Returned Item Penalty (for payments returned as non-sufficient funds, stop payment, etc.)||$50 per instance||$51.50 per instance|
|Debtor Failure to Return a Statement of Finances (SOF) Penalty||$200 per instance||$205 per instance|
|Creditor Failure to Report a Direct Payment Penalty||$50 per instance||$51.50 per instance|
|Debtor or Creditor Re-Registration of a Closed File Service Fee||$200 per instance||$205 per instance|
|Substitutional Service Fee (for third party service of documents)||$50 per instance||$51.50 per instance|
|Child Support Recalculation Program Service Fee (for a recalculation decision to change the amount of child support payable)||$75 per parent for each Decision||$77 per parent for each Decision|
The best way to avoid being faced with the rate increases outlined above is to ensure debtor payments arrive at MEP on or before the due date. An effective way to ensure same is by using Authorized Bank Withdrawal, increasing the likelihood that the debtor’s payment will be received by MEP on time. It is important to note that a default penalty is also charged by MEP when a file has amounts owing but no payment arrangement in place. Debtors who have insufficient funds in their bank may also contact MEP a minimum of 5 days before the scheduled payment date to ask that their payment not be processed. The default penalty charges for late payments will still be processed, but if alternative payment can be arranged within the noted timeframe, these charges may be avoided. Another helpful tip is to report any direct payments not made through MEP within 7 days through MEP’s automated telephone system or through MEP Accounts Online. If direct payments are not reported, unnecessary and avoidable enforcement actions by MEP may be imposed against the debtor.