Can you enforce a support order made outside BC?

Cases where you and the other person (the law calls them the other party) don't live in the same province, territory, or country are called interjurisdictional. That means that more than one legal system or set of laws is involved.

BC has agreements about changing and enforcing support orders and agreements with:

  • all other Canadian provinces and territories
  • all of the United States
  • several other foreign countries

These places are called reciprocating jurisdictions. They agree to collect on family support orders and agreements made in other reciprocating jurisdictions.

If you have a support order that was made outside BC, you can still enforce it. How to do this depends on:

  • which law your support order was made under:
  • where you and the other person live.

Usually support orders say which act they're made under. If your support order doesn't say this, there are ways you can figure it out. See Interjurisdictional orders: When a case involves more than one province, territory, or country for some tips on this.

If you or the other person live in another country, you need to know if that country's a reciprocating jurisdiction. See Interjurisdictional Support Orders (ISO) on the Ministry of Attorney General’s website for a full list of countries that have reciprocal agreements with BC.

The BC law about reciprocity is the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act (ISO). Each of the reciprocating jurisdictions has similar ISO laws.

If you use ISO, you can apply for a support order in one of the reciprocating jurisdictions without having to go there. You can also apply to change an existing support order. The person making the application doesn't usually have to go to court but the respondent (the person in the reciprocating jurisdiction) goes to court to respond to the application.

Expand the heading that fits your situation to find out how to enforce your support order.

If your order was made outside BC under the Canadian Divorce Act, enrol in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program. It's free to enrol.

The BC Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is a provincial government program that collects and tracks maintenance orders and agreements for child or spousal support. If you enrol with them, they'll enforce your order for you.

Give FMEP a copy of the order that's been certified by the court that made it. A certified copy has a court stamp on it and is signed by a court official to show it's an authentic (real) copy.

If your order isn't certified already, contact the court where it was made to find out how to get it certified.

FMEP will then register the order in the Victoria Supreme Court Registry. Once it's registered, it can be enforced by FMEP and changed by the BC court, even though the order wasn't made in BC.

If your order was made outside BC under family law legislation in another province or territory, or outside Canada by a court in a reciprocating jurisdiction:

If your order is from a reciprocating jurisdiction, it has to be registered under the Interjurisdictional Support Order Act, but FMEP can do that for you.

To get an enrolment application for FMEP:

You can also see Enforce Your Support Order or Agreement Through the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program on the Attorney General ministry website.

Register your order under ISO and enrol in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) if your order was made:

  • outside BC under the Canadian Divorce Act, 
  • outside BC under family law legislation in another province or territory, or
  • outside Canada by a court in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

If your order is from a reciprocating jurisdiction, it has to be registered under the Interjurisdictional Support Order Act, but FMEP can do that for you.

FMEP is a provincial government program that collects and tracks maintenance orders and agreements for child or spousal support.

To get an enrolment application for FMEP:

You can also see Enforce Your Support Order or Agreement Through the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program on the Attorney General ministry website.

Enrol in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) if your order was made:

  • outside BC under the Canadian Divorce Act,
  • outside BC under family law legislation in another province or territory, or
  • outside Canada by a court in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

FMEP is a provincial government program that collects and tracks maintenance orders and agreements for child or spousal support.

They might enforce the order if:

  • the person paying support has income or assets in BC (for example, they own a home in BC), and
  • the order was made in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

To get an enrolment application for FMEP:

You can also see Enforce Your Support Order or Agreement Through the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program on the Attorney General ministry website.

Can you appear by phone or video if the court is far away?

Only the respondent has to appear.

If you or the other person live far from the court where the hearing will be, ask:

  • if you can appear by phone or video, or
  • if the court would transfer your file to a court in BC that's easier for you to get to.

To ask about appearing by phone or video in Supreme Court:

Include a signed letter that explains why you want to attend by phone or video. Contact the court registry to find out if your request has been approved.

To ask about appearing by phone or video in Provincial Court, fill out a Request to Be Heard by Teleconference at the court registry. Include a signed letter that explains why you want to attend by phone or video.

They'll pass it to a judge who'll decide if you can attend by video or phone. Contact the court registry to find out if your request has been approved.

If the judge agrees, the registry will tell you what to do next.