Community Update: Correspondence from Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation Re: Assignment of Maintenance Rights

Please note: This Community Alert was posted on our blog earlier this week but was REVISED May 20th 2015, to correct a small error and provide more information. 

Dear Community Partner,

The Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation (MSDSI) recently sent some of their clients a letter about changes to the requirements to assign their family maintenance rights.

Your agency may be receiving enquires about this from Ministry clients who are unclear about the meaning of this change. We thought it might be useful to provide you with some clarification.

Before May 1st 2015, MSDSI required divorced/separated clients who were potentially eligible to receive maintenance payments from an estranged partner to assign their rights to permit the Ministry to pursue or defend an order or agreement for payment of child or spousal support.

As of May 1st 2015, individuals are no longer required to assign their family maintenance rights in order to apply for or receive disability benefits or income assistance.

Clients who have already assigned their family maintenance rights now have the choice as to whether they want the Ministry to continue to assist them with their maintenance services. Clients who want to continue to receive maintenance services from MSDSI should contact the Ministry by June 5th 2015 by calling 1-866-866-0800. Clients who do not wish to continue to receive maintenance services from MSDSI do not have to contact the Ministry or take any further action.

We would like to point out that from May 2015 onwards, clients may now choose to have MSDSI help with obtaining maintenance orders or written agreements. Indeed, many clients may want this help since it has been announced that child support payments will no longer be deducted from income assistance and disability benefits payments effective September 1st 2015. If the Ministry has been acting on behalf of a client regarding family maintenance, and the client still wants Ministry help, the client must contact the Ministry before the June 5th 2015 deadline.

According to the new MSDSI policy introduced on May 1st 2015, clients can voluntarily assign their maintenance rights to the Ministry, under the Family Maintenance Program, if they meet the following conditions:

  • They are receiving income, hardship, or disability assistance
  • They are requesting help with obtaining or defending an order or agreement for child or spousal support
  • They do not already have an order or agreement for child support for all their children or for spousal support. Or they are not defending an application for variation of a maintenance order or agreement
  • They are willing to identify the potential payer of support and the payer lives in BC
  • They provide information that indicates that the payer earns more than the Child Support Guidelines of $10,280 per year (note: the Ministry will not provide help if the payer is receiving income assistance or disability benefits)

Clients can now choose to enrol their maintenance orders with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP). FMEP, operated under the Ministry of Justice, monitors and enforces maintenance orders. For people who already have maintenance orders enrolled in FMEP, they now have the option of continuing to use FMEP services to enforce their orders or withdrawing. Clients who wish to withdraw should contact FMEP.

We hope this helps you to help your clients. If you have questions, please feel free to contact Robin Loxton at 604-872-1278 or 1-800-663-1278