Published Date: September 25, 2006
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Applicant Rights and Responsibilities
CASS Regulation Section 3
IESA Section 6 and Section 29
ISTHB Regulation Section 82
To enable the applicant to understand their rights and responsibilities when helping Child Support Services (CSS) obtain child support.
When an applicant receives assistance, the Director has the rights to support for the applicant and the applicant’s dependent child(ren). [IESA Section 29(3) and Section 29(6)(a)] To enable an applicant to proceed with support action that would be in the best interests of the applicant, the children and the Director, provisions exist to give applicants the ability to proceed with their own support actions. These rights apply only under certain situations.
Divorce Proceedings or Variation of Arrears
Section 29(6)(a) of the Act does not prevent a person in receipt of assistance from:
- initiating or responding to a proceeding under the Divorce Act (Canada), or
- initiating or responding to an application for a variation of arrears owing to the person for any period during which the person was not in receipt of assistance
but if the proceeding or application involves the person taking steps referred to in section 29(3) of the Act, the person must notify the Director within 2 days of initiating or receiving notice of the proceeding or application. [CASS Regulation Section 3(1)]
This means a person can start or continue with support actions that are in their best interests and are support actions the Director does not have a mandate to pursue.
The applicant notifies the Child Support Worker (CSW) when the action involves support in order to allow the worker to monitor the progress and outcomes of the support action and to prevent the CSW from proceeding with any conflicting action. The applicant does not require CSW consent to proceed with the actions.
Notification is not required for legal actions that do not involve support for the applicant or their dependent child(ren).
A person who
- has taken any steps referred to in section 29(3) of the Act and subsequently becomes in receipt of assistance, or
- is in receipt of assistance
may, on notification to the Director, on receipt of the consent of the Director and subject to any conditions imposed by the Director, continue or initiate any steps referred to in section 29(3) of the Act. [CASS Regulation Section 3(2)]
This means when an applicant is receiving assistance and the CSW agrees the applicant’s own action is in the applicant’s and Director’s best interest and provides consent, the applicant may continue with or initiate action to:
- Enter into an EMP 45 Support Agreement
- Enter into a consent order for support
- Bring an application for support
- Defend ongoing arrears when the applicant has retained legal counsel. Consent is granted after consultation with Alberta Justice Social Enhancement Legal Team or the legal agent.
- File their support order or agreement with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) for enforcement
When the applicant is proceeding with their own support actions listed above, the CSW may withdraw consent or exercise any authority to ensure the government’s best interests are protected. [CASS Regulation Section 3(4)]
The CSW does not give consent for an applicant to enter into a MEP Maintenance Agreement. The worker may accept a MEP Maintenance Agreement and if applicable, refer the agreement to MEP for enforcement when:
- The applicant entered into the agreement prior to becoming an assistance client, and
- The agreement reflects the Alberta Child Support Guidelines and Tables.
Maintaining Eligibility for Assistance
When an applicant is entitled to receive assistance or is receiving assistance, eligibility for income support (ETW/NETW) and health benefits depend upon their co-operation with Child Support Services (CSS). [IESA Section 6(2)(d) and Section 6(3)(d)] [ISTHB Regulation, Section 82] Applicant responsibilities vary depending upon the type of benefits received, and these are addressed in Other Client Groups.
Co-operation with CSS under IESA Part 5 Section 29(6) means the applicant agrees and understands:
- The government has their rights to support and the support of their dependent child(ren).
- When required, they must provide all necessary information, including information about the identity and whereabouts of the responsible parent.
- They must co-operate in any court proceedings and be prepared to attend court if required.
- They must comply with any requests from the CSW to assist in obtaining or enforcing a support order or agreement.
- They must inform the CSW about any changes that affect obtaining an EMP 45 Support Agreement or court order.
- They cannot agree with the respondent to cancel or reduce arrears that are owing to the government. Any such agreement is void. IESA Part 5 Section 29(6)(c) and Section 29(7).
Notification Requirements to CSW
When the applicant is receiving assistance and initiates or responds to a support action the CSW would not pursue, the applicant must notify the CSW within 2 days of the occurrence. [CASS Regulation Section 3(1)] This obligation enhances the worker’s ability to know about the action to monitor the outcome.
When the applicant has commenced a support action before the assistance file is opened or wishes to commence a support action that falls under the CSS mandate, the applicant must notify the CSW to receive consent to continue. [CASS Regulation Section 3(2)] The worker advises the applicant of this responsibility at the time of the initial assessment or contact.
When the CSW has granted consent to the applicant to proceed or continue with a specific support action, the applicant must comply with any conditions identified by the worker, including notification about the status of the action and the outcome.