Child and Spousal Support in Calgary Divorces: The Maintenance Enforcement Program
February 10, 2017
Every divorce in Calgary is unique, but there's a process that is typical of most. You contact a divorce lawyer, who discusses your options with you and starts the official process. You, your lawyer, and your ex-spouse (and their divorce lawyer) sit down with a mediator for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and/or take your case to court in front of a Calgary judge. An agreement is worked out that achieves an equitable split of your assets and property, your divorce is finalized, and that's it—you're ready to move on and build a happy future for yourself.
In cases involving ongoing spousal and/or child support payments, though, it can seem like your divorce stretches on long after the final decree is approved by a Calgary judge. Whether you're making payments or receiving payments, the ongoing involvement of your ex-spouse in your financial affairs can seem disruptive. Things can be made more difficult if your ex-spouse is being less than cooperative, whether that's in failing to accurately report payments received or cash checks in a timely fashion, or failing to make payments on time as agreed or as ordered by a Calgary judge.
No matter what end of ongoing spousal or child support payments you’re on, you can make use of Alberta's Maintenance Enforcement Program to ensure that your life and your finances are protected. You'll want to consult with an experienced Calgary divorce lawyer before contacting the program, but it many cases it can reduce the stress and the uncertainty that all too often accompanies ongoing support payments after Calgary divorces.
How the MEP Can Help After Your Calgary Divorce
Though the Maintenance Enforcement program has "enforcement" in its title, the program isn't always used simply to enforce court-ordered spousal and child support payments. In fact, it's more often used as a third-party service to create an official record of support payments being made and disbursed. The program doesn't cost anything for either the person making payments or the person receiving them, and either person can request that the MEP handle their support payments.
For those receiving support payments, the benefit of the MEP is that the program will ensure payments are made on time, and will handle communications with your ex-spouse to collect payments. They will also keep an official record of payments, so late and partial payments can be noted. This may impact any future court proceedings regarding your divorce.
For those making support payments, the benefit of the MEP is that you won't have to make payments directly to your ex-spouse or communicate with them regarding payments. You'll make your payments to the program, creating an official record of your payments. You can even pay in advance if you want, with the MEP making regular payments to your ex-spouse in keeping with your divorce decree.
If you have questions about using the MEP for a divorce that's already been settled, contact your Calgary divorce lawyer. If you're just beginning the divorce process or have other questions and would like to speak to one of Calgary's most dedicated divorce lawyers, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.
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