Canada Court Watch - Family Justice Review Committee
Policy and Position Statements

Use of and access to government (taxpayer funded) agencies to collect child support

Discussion

Currently, it is the practice of courts in some of the provinces to automatically assign the collection of child support to a government funded child support collection agency for every child support award ordered by the family court.  In many cases, representatives of the various government collection agencies (such as Ontario's Family Responsibility Office) attend hearings at the courthouse at expense to the taxpayers to ensure that this is done.

In the majority of cases, involvement of a government funded child support collection agency is not required because child support would be paid voluntarily whether a government funded agency was involved or not.  In the majority of cases, government funded collection agencies become just another needless layer of bureaucracy to handle the transfer of money from one parent to another.  In the majority of cases, money could be transferred from one parent to another through a bank transaction which would not require the involvement of the government and in the end, save taxpayers significant money.

Many parents have complained of how government funded child support agencies have screwed up payments because of the bureaucracy.  Monies have been misplaced by these agencies and account records totally messed up.  Thousands of dollars of taxpayer's monies have been spent to straighten up accounts that have been mishandled by these agencies.  

Many parents have complained of bias and harassment by these government child support collection agencies.  Many parents complain that these these government child support collection agencies often take sides with the support recipient and pursue the support payer with a vengeance.  Some parents have been documented to have committed suicide after being pursued by government child support collection agencies.

While child support payers have to pay lawyers out of their own pockets to defend themselves against these government collection agencies, support recipients have free legal services provided by their government to chase after the support payer.    In many cases, support recipients have high incomes and live a rather lavish lifestyle compared to many Canadians and certainly have the financial resources to pursue collection of child support through civil means without having the taxpayers pay for this through a government funded service.

The Family Justice Review Committee feels that the practice of automatically assigning child support collection accounts to a government collection agency needlessly increases government bureaucracy, further intrudes the government in the private lives of families and ends of costing taxpayers needless monies which could be diverted to other causes such as children's education and health care.  The practice of handing all cases over to these government child support collection agencies is that it creates a tremendous amount of paper and work load on staff, which further reduces the ability of these collection agencies to collect child support from those who legitimately try to avoid paying child support.

The Family Justice Review Committee believes that many of the government collection agencies have lobbied to have all child support orders processed through their government agencies because these agencies can then claim to be collecting huge sums of monies for children which makes it appear as if these agencies are fulfilling a valuable service for children when in reality, this is all smoke and mirrors.  In reality, much of the money for child support would end up getting paid even if the support payer was ordered to pay direct to the support recipient.

To make it difficult for people to get off the system, in many cases, both parties have to sign forms requesting that the government not collect the support. Vindictive and controlling parents who do not even need the child support, will insist that the government act as their private child support collection agency, for no other reason that it is a free service for any support recipient, irregardless of the recipient's income or financial status.

In the matter of who should have access to government funded child support collection agencies, it is the position of the Family Justice Review Committee:

  • That the assignment of a government funded child support collection agency should not be automatic in every court case involving child support and that the involvement of a government funded child support collection agency should only be ordered by the court where circumstance warrant such government intervention.

  • That government funded child collection agencies should not be used to collect or to process child support unless the child support recipient can demonstrate a financial need to access to government funded child support collection services.  Government child support collection agencies should be available only to those with a proven financial need of such taxpayer funded services.

  • That user fees for services should be paid by the support recipient should the support recipient wish to use government funded services and should an analysis of their financial status show that they have the financial ability to pay for government funded child support collection services to collect child support.