Q&A — Support

Please see COVID-19 updates - finances and support for more help.
The date of the most recent update is shown in [square brackets].  

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to financial hardship for many families. The person who is supposed to be paying you may have lost their job.

If they approach you to reduce support, try to work out something temporarily, if you can. You both may be in difficult financial circumstances, but try to explain if you need money for your or your children’s basic needs.

If you’ve tried to work things out with the other person but you still aren't being paid support, consider enrolling with the BC Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP).

If you’re enrolled with FMEP, your case manager will be monitoring the regular maintenance and will try to ensure you get regular payments. You don’t need to contact the case manager. If you have an agreement to temporarily reduce support with the other person, you should sign into your web account and send a web e-message explaining your situation.

See COVID-19 updates - finances and support and If you're struggling to pay support for more information.

New expedited process for changing a court order or agreement

You may take advantage of a new early resolution/expedited Provincial Court process, if you need to suspend or change a Provincial Court child or spousal support filed agreement or order because of a change in income related to COVID-19.

The first step in the new process is for both of you to attend a needs assessment interview. If you both agree to change your existing agreement or order, you can get help with preparing an amended written agreement or applying to the court to change your existing order by consent.

If you can’t agree, you and the other person may be referred to mediation (if it's appropriate in your situation.) You must also submit some forms to the court so they can arrange a hearing by telephone or videoconference, more quickly than usual.

To apply for this process, contact Family Justice Services to schedule a needs assessment interview at 1-844-747-3963 or 250-356-7012 (Victoria). You can also send an email to CSVariation@gov.bc.ca.

See If you're struggling to pay support for more details.

Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP)

If you’re registered with the FMEP, it’s very important that you contact your case manager at FMEP as soon as possible to let them know your financial and employment situation. Sign into your web account and if you don’t have FMEP web email, follow the instructions to set one up and send a web e-message explaining your situation.

Plan what documents or information might be needed by FMEP before contacting them. If you need help, duty counsel (click here for phone numbers) or a family justice counsellor (1-844-747-3963) may be able to assist you.

Try to pay your regular maintenance payment if you can. If you can’t, at the least, try to pay something. If the other person agrees on a temporary reduction, make sure that both of you let FMEP know. 

Arrears

If you are behind in your support payments and there are arrears, e-message your case manager about the arrears, especially if there is an enforcement order requiring you to pay an amount on the arrears or face jail time.

If your income has been affected by COVID-19, and you want to change (or make) a child support order or agreement, you can get a free professional mediator to help you. See Remote Child Support Mediation on the MyLawBC website.

You may also take advantage of a new early resolution/expedited Provincial Court process, if you need to suspend or change a Provincial Court child or spousal support filed agreement or order because of a change in income related to COVID-19. The first step in the new process is for you to have a needs assessment interview by phone or videoconference. If you can both agree to change your existing agreement or order, you can get help with preparing an amended written agreement or applying to the court to change your existing order by consent. If you can’t agree, you and the other person may be referred to mediation (if it's appropriate in your situation). You must also fill out some forms for the court (and serve them) so they can arrange a hearing by telephone or videoconference, more quickly than usual.

To apply for this new court process, contact Family Justice Services to schedule a needs assessment interview at 1-844-747-3963 or 250-356-7012 (Victoria). You can also send an email to CSVariation@gov.bc.ca or JSBVictoriaJACEarlyResolution@gov.bc.ca (Victoria). Note that there are some differences in the process in Victoria. See the Provincial Court website for more details about the new process, and also their Q and A page about support.

If you want changes to child or spousal support for reasons not related to COVID-19, you must make an application through your local Provincial Court registry.

The family justice services division recognizes that a large number of people are in real financial distress during this public health crisis.

FMEP is limiting some of its enforcement actions during this time. It has temporarily stopped:

  • Issuing new credit reports to credit reporting agencies
  • Issuing default fees for missed or late payments

Other enforcement actions used to collect unpaid maintenance (such as cancelling driver's licences) are available and may be considered on a case by case basis.

[Source: FMEP COVID-19 Frequently asked questions]

You may be able to get some financial help from the federal government. They’ve announced support for employees, employers, the self-employed, and many other groups during this time.

See If you're struggling to pay support for more information.

Don't see your question here? Email us.

Page last updated: September 23, 2020

Videos

This 7-minute video is for people wondering if they should go to court during COVID-19. Includes information about child support.