Department of Justice

Ministere de la Justice

284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K 1 A 0H8

Telephone: 613-957-0229
Facsimile: 613-952-9600

Our File:1325-8-6

June 11, 2002


Stephen C. Grant
Director, U.S. Central Authority for International Child Support
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447

Dear Mr. Grant:

Re: Changes to reciprocal family support orders legislation

I am writing on behalf of reciprocity representatives from Canadian provinces and territories to advise you of planned changes to reciprocal legislation in Canada. Each of the Canadian provinces and territories is in the process of preparing new laws and procedures to deal with the establishment, registration, and variation of reciprocal family support orders. We are writing to you because your jurisdiction currently has reciprocity with at least one Canadian province or territory.

For the time being, the reciprocal process between individual provinces and territories and your jurisdiction will remain the same. By the autumn of this year, however, you can expect to receive new types of reciprocal packages from the provinces and territories as each jurisdiction enacts its legislation. The individual territories and provinces with which you have reciprocal agreements will, of course, provide you with a copy of the amended legislation as it comes into force.

Canadian jurisdictions have been working together for some time to enhance and unify the reciprocal maintenance orders laws within this country, and to develop legislative and procedural systems which support the practices in reciprocating countries. In planning new laws, the focus was on creating a flexible, efficient, and effective method of moving applications and orders across our borders, thus increasing the service to families.

Some of the features of the new legislation and procedures include:

  1. Flexibility in method. Canadian territories and provinces are adopting an application process to establish or modify a support order. This method is in use in many other jurisdictions. The process will see the use of a support application package - including sworn evidence -being sent to the reciprocating jurisdiction for determination. Similar packages from you will be dealt with in the same way. The legislation will, however, continue to accommodate the provisional-and-confirmation laws and procedures of the jurisdictions where that method is used.
  1. Registration. Orders received from you will continue to be registered (for enforcement or variation). Under current reciprocity legislation, the respondent retains the right to apply to the court to set aside registration of the order on very limited grounds. In the event that a court sets aside registration, it will be able to treat the order as a support application, may request necessary documentation, and determine the matter as an application to establish an enforceable maintenance obligation.
  1. Parentage. Canadian courts will continue to establish parentage within the support application process, where required, under the new legislation.
  1. Choice of law. The choice of law sections relating to establishment and variation proceedings have been enhanced to allow the law of either sending or receiving jurisdiction to be used in determining a child's entitlement to support. The expanded provisions will also allow the law of either the receiving jurisdiction or the jurisdiction in which the claimant and respondent last maintained a common habitual residence to be used in determining entitlement to support for a claimant, commonly known as "spousal support".
  1. Service improvements. In conjunction with legislative development, the territories and provinces are working to improve their operational efficiency. You can expect to see clearer language, greater certainty in the obligations of the parties, a central authority in each province and territory for the receipt and transmittal of reciprocal packages, as well as standardized forms and procedures. The need for transcripts of evidence will be reduced or eliminated, and regulations will enable jurisdictions to conduct video hearings, where the technology exists.

As mentioned above, reciprocal legislation falls under provincial/territorial authority. Each of the Canadian jurisdictions will enact substantially similar legislation - the differences are expected to be minor and designed to meet the specific needs of a jurisdiction or geographic area. Implementation of the new legislation will not change the existing reciprocity arrangements an individual province or territory has with your jurisdiction.

As each province or territory enacts its new reciprocal legislation, you will be sent a copy. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact any of the provincial/territorial government reciprocity representatives noted on the attached list. If you have any concerns about the impact of this proposed legislation on your reciprocal arrangements with any of the Canadian provinces or territories, please feel free to contact the appropriate province or territory.

To assist us in sending your jurisdiction up-to-date information about the implementation of this legislative initiative, would you please provide the following contact information:

Name of person/agency to receive information
E-mail address
Telephone / fax numbers, and
Your business or office hours.

Please also provide a list of all documents required by your jurisdiction when a Canadian support order is sent to you for registration and enforcement and when a request is sent to you for establishment or variation/modification of a support obligation. In particular, please advise if your establishment and variation/modification process requires a provisional order.

Over the next several months the results of past planning and work will, we believe, result in a more flexible, efficient, and effective reciprocity system. With implementation, you can expect to see improvements in the timeliness of establishing family support orders, reduced delays in processing, and enhanced consistency in procedure. Your patience and assistance as reciprocity in Canada is transformed will be appreciated. We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.



Danièle Ménard and Tracy Morrow, Federal/Provincial Co-Chairs
Federal Provincial Territorial Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance/Support Orders Working Group