Court Watch receives many complaints about children and families being adversely
affected by current policies and practices relating to collection of child
support. Some of the complaints include:
While the courts
are supposed to order child support based on government guidelines, often
these guidelines are not properly followed. Judges have wide discretion when
ordering child support and using their discretion, often judges order child
support order based on lies and false information before the court.
of child support due to changing circumstances of the support payer cannot be changed without one of the parents having to apply to the court again
and to have the matter argued before the court again. The process of
having to return to court ties up a lot of court resources which should not be
used for this purposes.
When determining child support, some courts will base the amount of child
support on the average income of a parent over the past three years. In
many cases this is not accurate as parents may be currently making less than the
average. This causes hardship on parents because it does not take into
consideration a parent who may be out of work or who has become ill.
When more than one child is involved and children are of different ages, when
one child may quite school and enter the workforce, the parent who is paying
support has to go back to court to have support changed for the other kids or
else be forced to pay child support. Some parents have reported paying
child support for children who are working and making in excess of $40,000 per
Many parents have complained of
how difficult it is to return to court to get support payments changes because
circumstances have changed. Some parents have reported children coming to
live with them while they are still expected to pay child support back to to the
parents where the child used to live. Many have complained of having their
bank accounts seized, their driver's licences taken away, to pay child support
for children that are now living with them, not the other parent.
In other cases, parents have reported that their child support payments have
been registered with the credit bureau which end up showing as an additional
debt of the parent. Should that parent have to borrow money, the payments to the
collection agency will be calculated as if the parent had a debt and had to make
payments in the same amount of the child support payments. This
immediately places a parent in a more difficult credit position.
Some parents have reported that they were not hired by firms or in some cases,
let go because their wages were being deducted at source by a government child
support collection agency. Some employers have reported that it was just one
more bookkeeping hassle they had to deal with and did want to hire any employees
who were paying child support and had to have it deducted from their paycheques.
The Family Justice Review Committee believes that the issue of determining the
amount of child support through the court process has become too cumbersome and
is a waste of valuable resources which should be used for other purposes.
The collection of child support has evolved into a huge government bureaucracy
that is not able to cope efficiently or fairly with the ever changing circumstances that most families
face in regards to the payment of child support. Some parents are losing
their jobs and unable to find employment partly because they are having to have
child support deducted from their paycheques.
In the matter of
collection of child support and the variance of payments, it is the position of the Family
Justice Review Committee:
That parents be
required to report to the other parent or to any applicable child support
collection agency, when any child who has previously collected child
support, is no longer in school or no longer living with the parents who
receives support. That child support will be terminated immediately to
any parent who refuses to provide this information to the other parent.
support payments obligations not be registered with any credit bureau or
agency as a
debt. Currently, this is being used by government child support collection
agencies to harm parents by destroying their credit rating. Destroying
a persons credit rating does not help to collect child support, it is merely
a form of threat to harm a person if they do not pay.
should not have to go back to court to vary the amount of child support due
to changing circumstances such as loss of job, children entering the
workforce, children changing residences, illness or accident, etc.
should be able to alter child support payments within 30 days upon
presentation of reasonable evidence to show that there is a change of
circumstances and that the process of adjusting child support should be
based on standard forms which can be processed by the agency responsible for
the collection of child support.
In the event
that there is a disagreement between parties as to the change of
circumstances, that an independent, community based committee be given the
power to arbitrate on the matter, instead of the court.
initial determination of child support should be based on the parties
current financial situation. The practice of averaging out the last
three years of income should not be permitted.
That when there is
more than one child as part of a child support order, that child support payments must specify the amount for
each child separately and not be based on a global child support payment
where support for all children is grouped under one amount. Global child
support payments should not be ordered when there is more than one child.
current policy of double-dipping of child support where a parent can collect
child support from more than one support payer for the same child, not be
allowed under law.
given the authority to to enforce child support payments shall not be
permitted to collect other expenses which are not directly attributable to
support of a child such as court or lawyer fees. Court fees and legal
expenses shall remain a civil matter between the parties.
drivers licences and passports should not be used as a penalty for
enforcement of child support. In many cases, those being forced to pay
child support were never given a choice to support to care for and support
for their child upon separation. In most cases, they were forced into
the role of support payer.
of child support from a parent's payroll cheque should only be used as a
last resort and not as standard procedure by child support collection
(see access to and use of
government collection agencies)