Child & Spousal Support

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What can I do if I lose my job and I am unable to pay for child or spousal support?

    You could return to court and change (vary) your court order when you are able to. You may qualify for Legal Aid assistance with your variation. In the meantime, Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) has the authority to suspend enforcement of support if warranted by the payor’s circumstances. You can get the Form for an Administrative Suspension at the following link:

    https://www.gov.mb.ca/justice/courts/mep/fma.html

    You can also contact the Child Support Recalculation Service to see whether they can assist you with applying for a court order authorizing recalculation of your child support order.

    Resources:

    Maintenance Enforcement Program


    (204) 945-7133 or toll free 1-866-479-2717

    Child Support Recalculation Service Office

    (204) 945-2293 or toll free 1-800-282-8069

    Legal Aid Manitoba

    (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960

    https://www.legalaid.mb.ca/

  • Is there a way to get child support without going to court?

    The Manitoba Child Support Service can make an initial child support calculation decision. This is done outside of court.  You would provide the Child Support Service with information on the parents, children, incomes, and custody arrangements. It can take between 45-90 days to receive a decision from the Service once you have applied. When you receive a child support calculation decision, it can also be registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program so that they can enforce payments. You can get an Application for a Child Support Calculation Decision here:

    Child Support Service

    Room 201-373 Broadway,
    Winnipeg MB, R3C 4S4
    (204) 945-2293

  • Do I have to pay spousal support to my former spouse?

    You must pay spousal support if you and your spouse have an agreement that says you must pay or if the Court has ordered you to pay spousal support. When there is no agreement, whether spousal support is payable is based on your individual situation. The amount of spousal support is based on the facts including the income of the paying spouse and needs of the spouse receiving support. There are also Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines that may be considered when entering into an agreement or getting a court order for spousal support:

    https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/fl-lf/spousal-epoux/spag/index.html

    You may want to consult with a family law lawyer to see whether spousal support may be required in your particular circumstances.

     

    What does a court consider when making an order for spousal support?

    In addition to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

    https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/fl-lf/spousal-epoux/spag/index.html

    the court can also consider

    • how long the spouses or partners lived together;
    • what functions each performed during the time they lived together;
    • whether there is any Order, Agreement or arrangement dealing with spousal support;
    • the financial needs of each;
    • the financial means, earnings and earning capacity of each;
    • their standard of living;
    • any obligations to pay support for children or others;
    • property settlement;
    • whether the relationship has had an effect on the earning capacity or financial status of either.

    A spousal support order should:

    • recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses as a result of the relationship or the breakdown of the relationship;
    • take into account financial matters dealing with caring for children, over and above child support;
    • relieve any economic hardship of the spouses as a result of the breakdown of the relationship; and
    • promote the economic self-sufficiency of each spouse within a reasonable period of time.

    The spouse or partner being supported has an obligation to become independent of that support within a reasonable period of time. What is reasonable depends on the circumstances in each case, including factors like the length of the relationship. When making an order for spousal support, the court will not consider any misconduct of a spouse or partner. Where a court is considering requests for both child and spousal support, the court has to give priority to child support. If a court is unable to make an order for spousal support or makes an order for a reduced amount as a result of giving priority to child support,  the court should make that clear in their reasons.

  • Do I lose my right to apply for spousal support because I left my spouse?

    No.

  • How long do I have to live with my common-law partner before I can apply for spousal support?

    According to The Family Maintenance Act you must have lived together for three years or for one year and have a child together before you can apply for spousal support. You may also be able to apply for spousal support if you registered your common-law relationship with Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency.

  • Is there a way to get into court quickly for a support order?

    Once you have started a proceeding by filing a Petition or Petition for Divorce you can also apply for an interim order by filing a Notice of Motion and an Affidavit. An interim order is an order of the court intended to decide matters until a final order can be made at trial. Matters such as support often need quick attention by the court when the parties can’t reach an agreement. Interim orders are enforceable in the same way as a final order and they can be extremely important. They may establish a status quo (the way things are currently) that might be difficult to overturn in future court proceedings.

    Parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, occupancy of the home, preservation of property orders, and protection and prevention orders are the types of orders that are commonly granted on an interim motion.

    Due to changes to the family court system on February 1, 2019, a motion for support can no longer be heard by the court until after the triage conference. To get a triage conference date, you must first attend triage screening court by filing the following forms:

    Request for Triage Conference (Form 70D.2)
    http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/rules/form_2e.php?form=70D.2

    Certificate of Prerequisite Completion (Form 70D.3)
    http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/rules/form_2e.php?form=70D.3

    Triage Brief (Form 70D.4)
    http://web2.gov.mb.ca/laws/rules/form_2e.php?form=70D.4

    These forms are supposed to be filed and served on the other party at least 14 days before the proposed triage screening court (Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m.). At triage screening court, the coordinator will review your file and make sure that the required prerequisites have been completed. If they are satisfied, a triage conference date will be set. If some of the prerequisites have not been met, then the coordinator will let you know what needs to be completed to set a date. If there is a dispute between the parties about the prerequisites, you can schedule a motion before a Master for assistance.

    Resources:

    The Government of Manitoba has a family law website that contains information on Family Division court procedures at the following link:

    https://www.gov.mb.ca/familylaw/

    They also have Client Guides who provide free assistance with family law related issues. They can be reached at:

    (204) 945-2313 or toll free at 1-844-808-2313

  • Can I request the court order have the other parent keep our child on their medical and dental insurance plan from their employment?

    Yes.

  • Will the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) still help me enforce my court order if my ex-partner moves to another province?

    Yes. The Maintenance Enforcement Program will work with the other Canadian province to enforce the child support order. Maintenance Enforcement will forward the court order to the other province to coordinate collection with them. The other province will forward any funds that they collect to the Manitoba Maintenance Enforcement Program and then you will receive those payments.

    Next Steps:

    1. Inform Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) as soon as you can if you know that your ex-partner has moved outside of Manitoba. They will coordinate with the enforcement agency in the other province to attempt to keep collecting your support payments.
    2. Provide as much information as you can to MEP to assist in the collection of support. Let them know where your ex-partner has moved, where they might be working, and any other information that may assist them and the other enforcement agency in ensuring that you still receive your support payments.
  • Can the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) garnish my whole paycheque when I am behind on my child support payments?

    Most garnishment orders require the creditor to leave you at least 70% of your wages. The garnishment must leave you with a minimum of $250 per month or $350 per month if you have dependants. However, if it is a child support order that is being garnished the creditor can leave you with as little as $250 per month.

    Next Steps:

    1. If you have lost your job, had a decrease in income, or are unable to work due to a disability, you may want to consult with a family law lawyer or Legal Aid Manitoba about applying to court to vary (change) your child support order.
    2. You can also contact the Child Support Recalculation Service to see whether they can assist you with applying for a court order authorizing recalculation of your child support order.

    Resources:

    Child Support Recalculation Service Office

    (204) 945-2293 or toll free 1-800-282-8069

     

    Legal Aid Manitoba

    (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960

    https://www.legalaid.mb.ca/

  • I was registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) but I opted out when my ex-spouse was briefly out of a job. He is employed again. What can I do?

    You may opt in or out of the Maintenance Enforcement Program at any time. There may be a cost to opt back into the program.

    You can find the MEP Form ”Authorization to Opt In” at the following link:

    https://www.gov.mb.ca/justice/courts/mep/pubs/enroll23.pdf

  • Can I bring a family member to my family court motion for support?

    Courts are open to the public and you may bring a family member or friend to court with you. Some proceedings are closed to the public (such as case or triage conferences) and you will not be able to bring anyone to such court appearances besides your lawyer. Ask your lawyer for more information on the specific appearance and whether you can bring someone on that date.

  • Are there guidelines for spousal support similar to the ones for child support?

    Yes. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines can be accessed at
    https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/fl-lf/spousal-epoux/spag/index.html.

    The Guidelines are just advisory, not mandatory—so the courts are not required to follow them when making an order for spousal support. A lawyer can provide you with a calculation outlining the range of spousal support and duration of support suggested by the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines. The range will show low, mid, and high levels of spousal support