Payment patterns of child and spousal support: highlights

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  • As of March 31, 2012, just over 88,000 child and spousal support cases were enrolled in a maintenance enforcement program in the nine provinces and territories reporting to the Survey of Maintenance Enforcement Programs (SMEP) (excludes Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia).
  • Children were the only beneficiaries of support in the vast majority (93%) of these maintenance enforcement program (MEP) cases. In most cases (96%), the child support is to be paid by the father.
  • Most of the 117,000 child beneficiaries were 18 years of age or under (80%). The median age of the children was 14.
  • In 2011/2012, MEPs collected just over $379 million from payors and other sources such as wage garnishments and federal interceptions (money collected includes amounts for regular support payments due, other payments due and arrears). This figure represented about 85% of total payments due.
  • After enrolment in a MEP, the proportion of payors that make a support payment greatly increases over the first six months. For payors newly enrolled in 2009/2010 in seven provinces and territories (Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Yukon and the Northwest Territories) more than two-thirds (68%) made a payment in the sixth month from enrolment.
  • Enforcement or tracing activities are more prevalent during the first year of enrolment in a MEP. During the first year of enrolment, enforcement or tracing activities were taken against 86% of payors newly enrolled in 2009/2010 in seven provinces and territories. This figure dropped to 62% during the second year of enrolment.
  • For many payors, their payments become more regular over time. Almost one-third (29%) of irregular payors (payors that made very few or no payments during the year) enrolled in 2005/2006 in four jurisdictions became regular payors by 2011/2012, making their support payments all or most months of the year.
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