Way out west

Way out west

July 28, 2015

28 July, 2015

A single mother complained to the Ombudsman that she hadn’t received child support payments in six months, despite her daughter, a post-secondary student, still living at home. The father lived in B.C., and as long as the daughter attended school and lived with her mother, he was required to pay monthly support payments.

A single mother complained to the Ombudsman that she hadn’t received child support payments in six months, despite her daughter, a post-secondary student, still living at home. The father lived in B.C., and as long as the daughter attended school and lived with her mother, he was required to pay monthly support payments. The case was registered with the FRO’s Interjurisdictional Support Orders unit (ISO).

Ombudsman staff reviewed the case with a manager at the ISO and discovered the B.C. Family Maintenance Enforcement Program had sent two letters to the FRO to be forwarded to the mother, asking her to confirm her daughter’s attendance at a post-secondary institution. The FRO had no record of the first letter and delayed forwarding the second letter for almost four months. As a result, the B.C. program closed its file, retroactive to the daughter’s last birthday.

When the mother sent proof of her daughter’s enrollment, the B.C. organization reopened the file. However, its policy was not to enforce child support accrued during the nine months the file was closed (about $1,800). The FRO wasn’t able to get the B.C. program to make an exception to its policy, but determined that it could collect the outstanding amount once the B.C. program closed its file.

Ombudsman staff pointed out to the FRO that the woman shouldn’t have to bear the burden of its delays. It agreed to reimburse the mother immediately for the nine months of support.

The FRO also implemented changes in its ISO unit to prevent future delays, including designating a point person to receive all child status letters from other jurisdictions.