• Family Maintenance Law in Canada

    | Updated on June 28, 2022

    Maintenance refers to legal obligations that one person should pay for the welfare and support of another. Here, a dependent is usually paid. Under the family maintenance law, parents must pay child support after divorce or separation.

    According to the law, a child is dependent on the parents until the age of 18, and parents must make sure to pay the child support amount. The family maintenance act of Canada gives weight in maintaining child support after parents’ separation.

    Things Included in the Maintenance Order of the Family 

    Maintenance Law 

    Under the family law, the parents of the child are ordered maintenance by the court. The court provides a written form of the handout that indicates what kind of support the parents need to follow and whether one or both of the parents will be eligible to pay. 

    The law order states the followings:

    • Which parent will pay and which parent will be paid
    • How much amount will have to be paid
    • Information of each child with their name and date of birth
    • The payment date- when it will start and how long it will continue for
    • The frequency of payment (monthly or yearly)
    • Yearly income of each of the parents (before tax cut)
    • The maintenance order under the family maintenance law also can include special orders. Such orders include:
    • What expenses the parent will be paying for
    • Name of each child with their relevant expenses
    • The exact amount for each child’s expenses to be paid

    What Happens After Issuing a Maintenance Order?

    Once the maintenance order is issued under the family maintenance law, the judge will summon each party for a court hearing. There can be three different cases for three different scenarios then-

    Ex-Spouse Shows Up In Court

    If the ex-spouse, to whom the maintenance order is issued and who is bound to pay support under the family law, shows up in court, the court will record a consent order when the ex-spouse agrees to the maintenance order.

    In case of the ex-spouse not being present that day, the court will put out a warrant of arrest. On the other hand, if you do not show up in court, the application of the maintenance order will be canceled.

    Ex-Spouse Do Not Agree To the Maintenance Order

    The court will ask you to settle it with your ex-spouse on your own outside the court, which is a basic rule. If that is not possible, the court may order a mediator for settlement.

    When the Mediation Fails

    This is the final situation where the court itself takes the matter into hand and decides with lawyers of each side. In the end, the court will give its decision which under the family support law both parties will have to abide by.

    What Happens When One Party Defaults?

    When a family maintenance order is imposed over one parent, he/she is bound to follow it under the family maintenance act. Defaulting from it may result in various punishments-


    The defaulter parent may be jailed for each month the amount is owed. And even when the parent is released, the maintenance amount must be paid.

    Financial Counseling

    The court may order counseling related to the finances of the defaulter. This court decision may come when the defaulter parent is in financial difficulty, in particular, even to carry his/her own expenses.

    Other Consequences

    Some other forms of decisions may come if the court decides not to impose any of the previous two. For example, the defaulter parent may be subjected to perform social services, which will be unpaid. Besides, the defaulter parent’s employer may be asked to deduct the maintenance amount before paying the defaulter his/her monthly wage or salary.

    The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP)

    This is a special program designed to ensure that the family support law is upheld, and the parent issued a maintenance order is paying the amounts regularly. People usually enroll in this program when they are not getting their maintenance periodically and let the professionals and authorities take control to collect the payments. To enroll in the program just follow these simple steps:

    • Get the maintenance order with clear statements of all the information filled out by the court
    • Complete the FMEP application form and submit through mail
    • Create an FMEP web account portal where all information will be sent to you directly


    The law is designed to ease the process of maintaining order with an effective and quick response. The law and order might become a lengthy process; however, due to the increasing rate of defaulters. In any case, the custodian parent should always carry out his/her duty required over this child’s care.

    Aaron Harris
    Legal Counselor
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