Can the government garnish my accounts as a child support payor?

Did you know that the government can “intercept” your money directly from your bank account in an effort to collect child support? That’s right, the British Columbia government can seize money from a variety of sources to ensure that you are making your payments on time. As a payor, you need to know your rights and responsibilities when it comes to making payments so that you do not end up being needlessly hampered by unnecessary wage garnishments.

Payors should know that the government can seize money that comes from their employer, but other sources are also fair game. These include employment insurance benefits, GST credits, income tax refunds, pension or Old Age Security payments and a variety of other sources. It is possible for the government to seize the entirety of a payor’s tax refund in order to provide compensation for the custodial parent. However, the percentage of other benefits that can be seized may differ — for example, employment insurance benefits may only be garnished at a rate of 25 per cent.

The good news is that you have options as a payor in British Columbia — you do not have to sit idly by while your financial resources are seized. In fact, the government is often willing to work out a payment plan in which the payor provides a reduced amount of support over a longer period of time in order to avoid the consequences of a failure to pay. In some instances, though, even those on payment plans may have their tax returns seized to cover their support obligations.

Paying for child support obligations can be an overwhelming burden for many Canadians. The truth is that payors are still entitled to fundamental needs such as food, shelter and clothing — child support payments may not take priority over the individual’s basic necessities. Parents who believe that they are being victimized by unfairly changing child support may be able to take legal action with the help of a skilled family lawyer.

Source: Family Maintenance Enforcement Program, “What is “federal interception”?,” accessed Sep. 17, 2015

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