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Mr. Speaker, families encounter the family law system in some of life's most difficult moments, and the Government of the Northwest Territories, GNWT, is committed to improving our family law processes to ensure we support families through these hard times.
Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce the launch of the NWT Child Support Recalculation Service. This new service can, in eligible circumstances, recalculate child support amounts on an annual basis, based on a parent’s income, without having to go through the courts. The service is intended to reduce the time, expense and stress that can result from parents relying upon the court process when the amount of child support needs to be changed due to a change in income.
The Child Support Recalculation Service aims to ensure fairness to both the payer and recipient at no charge. Instead of returning to court when a parent’s income changes, this service will allow for the automatic recalculation of child support amounts on an annual basis for eligible orders, and agreements that have been registered with the service.
In order to be eligible, child support orders and agreements must meet the requirements as per the territorial Children’s Law Act or the federal Divorce Act. Once enrolled, the service automatically recalculates support amounts using the child support guidelines and a person’s latest assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Mr. Speaker, the establishment of the Child Support Recalculation Service required legislative changes to the territorial Children’s Law Act and the development of subsequent regulations, as well as the establishment of an agreement with the federal government to allow for the recalculation of orders made under the federal Divorce Act.
In the spring of 2022, the GNWT invited residents, experts and stakeholders to share their thoughts and suggestions with respect to the proposed regulations for the Child Support Recalculation Service. This public engagement process took place between June 6 and July 5, and provided insightful feedback that helped shape the regulations.
The department is communicating information about the new service to parents through Legal Aid offices, Maintenance Enforcement case workers, the Law Society of the NWT, and other appropriate channels. Information is currently available on the Department of Justice website. Parties to any new orders will now receive information about the program along with their court order.
This new service is provided to NWT families through the Department of Justice and has been established with financial support from the federal Canadian Family Justice Fund.
Mr. Speaker, going through a separation or divorce is difficult for families. Providing this service will relieve some of the pressure on parents by alleviating the need to return to court and allowing them to focus more on the well-being of their children and themselves. It is also expected to ease some demand on our court resources.
Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is committed to helping Northerners navigate the family law system. The new Child Support Recalculation Service helps families with child support orders and agreements ensure a fair level of support is maintained for their children.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.