1. What is ISO?

ISO stands for the Nova Scotia Interjurisdictional Support Orders (ISO) Act. This is the law that governs the process used for getting and changing (‘varying’) support orders involving Nova Scotians and parties who live in other jurisdictions, where provincial or territorial laws (not the federal Divorce Act) are being applied. It also provides a process for registering a support order in Nova Scotia for the purposes of enforcement when the order has been made in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

ISO is used for child support and spousal support (money) issues only – it is not used to deal with parenting arrangements.

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2. When may ISO be used?

Generally, you may use the ISO Act when you live in Nova Scotia and:

  • you wish to get an order requiring someone living in another province or country to pay support under provincial or territorial laws
  • you have an existing support order that was granted under a law other than the Divorce Act, and you wish to change this order.

If you are divorced, but did not ask for or deal with support issues as part of your divorce, you may be able to make a new application for support under the Divorce Act. If this is your situation, you should speak with a lawyer

The ISO Act does not apply to any support applications under the federal Divorce Act. You will not be able to use the ISO Act to bring an application for support or a support variation in the following situations:

  • if a divorce action has been started and you are seeking an initial (first-time) order for child support or spousal support from your spouse
  • if you want to change (vary) an existing support order that was made in a divorce action

You will also not use the ISO Act if both parties to the court application live in Nova Scotia.

You may be able to use provincial or territorial laws to apply for or vary a support order in some cases. For example, in Nova Scotia you may be able to use the Parenting and Support Act. This may be an option if both parties agree on which province or territory can deal with the matter, as long as the court also agrees. The judge may also allow you to proceed under this option when there are other issues being dealt with at the same time, like parenting arrangements (custody and parenting time). There may be other reasons why provincial or territorial laws will apply, for example, if you apply directly to the jurisdiction where the other party lives.

These situations can be complicated and you should speak with a lawyer to decide which option to choose.

 

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3. What is a ‘reciprocating jurisdiction’?

When dealing with ISO, you will hear the words ‘jurisdiction’ and ‘reciprocating jurisdiction.’

  • Jurisdiction: when a court has jurisdiction, this means that they have the right to deal with the particular application being filed. Jurisdiction also means the geographic area over which a court has legal authority.
  • ISO reciprocating jurisdiction: a province, state or country that – like Nova Scotia – has agreed to use the ISO Act

A ‘reciprocating jurisdiction’ is a province, state or country that has an agreement with Nova Scotia to enforce a Nova Scotia court order when the person paying support lives in that province, state or country and the person receiving support lives in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Maintenance Enforcement Program can also enforce payments on the behalf of the reciprocating jurisdiction.

Reciprocating jurisdictions include:

  • All of Canada, including Quebec*
  • All of the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • Singapore
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  •  Island of Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*
  • **Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory
  • **South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria
  • **Western Australia, Independent State of Papua New Guinea
  • **New Zealand (including the Cook Islands)

*Quebec and the United Kingdom require what is known as a provisional order. You will need to apply to a Nova Scotia court for a provisional order. The Nova Scotia court will forward the provisional order and the evidence to the reciprocating jurisdiction. The court in the reciprocating jurisdiction will hear the respondent’s evidence as well as review the material in your application and will either confirm the order granted by the Nova Scotia court, substitute its own order, or refuse to confirm the order. You are advised to speak to a lawyer for help and advice.

**The Pacific Ocean region, including Australia and New Zealand, require special forms for ISO applications. You cannot use Nova Scotia’s ISO forms if the other party lives in one of these regions. You should speak with a lawyer for advice if this is your situation.

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4. What are the ISO reciprocating jurisdictions?

Reciprocating jurisdictions include:

  • All of Canada, including Quebec*
  • All of the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands
  • Singapore
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  •  Island of Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland*
  • **Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory
  • **South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria
  • **Western Australia, Independent State of Papua New Guinea
  • **New Zealand (including the Cook Islands)

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5. Where do I find ISO documents?

You can get ISO documents from the court, from a lawyer, or online here

For a guide to helping you file or respond to an ISO application, click here.

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6. What forms do I fill out for my child support ISO application?

That depends on your situation. As a general guideline, if you are dealing with a Canadian province or territory, and you are receiving or applying to receive child support, you will need to file:

  • Forms A and B
  • Form C, if you have never had a child support order before
  • Form D, if you think the other parent may say that the child is not theirs
  • Form E, if one or more of your children is under 19
  • Form F, so that you can give as much information as you can about the other party’s income (this form is not required, but is recommended)
  • Form G, if you have split or shared custody, are asking for child support in an amount other than what is set out in the tables, or if the other party makes over $150 000 a year
  • Form  H, with Form K, if you are looking for extra support to cover special expenses
  • Form L, if one or more of your children is 19 or older
  • Form M, if you already have a child support order, and are asking to change it

As a general guideline, if you are dealing with a Canadian province or territory, and you pay child support, and are filing to end or change the support, you will need to file:

  • Forms A, B, K, and M
  • Form F, if you are dealing with special expenses for child support (this form is not required, but recommended)
  • Form I, if you are asking to change or end support for a child 19 or older, are claiming undue hardship, or have a split or shared custody arrangement

REMEMBER: The ISO process is generally only used for non-divorce situations where the other party lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction. If both you and the other party live in Nova Scotia, ISO is likely not the correct process for your application. If you're not sure whether or not you need to file ISO documents, or which ones to file, please speak with a lawyer for advice.

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7. Can I file an affidavit with my ISO application?

Yes. An affidavit is a written statement of facts, sworn or affirmed under oath. If your situation is complicated, and you wish to give the court more information than what is covered on your ISO documents, you can also file an affidavit as part of your application. There is no specific affidavit form for ISO applications – you can use the affidavit form used by your local court. In most cases, this form should be notarized. Most lawyers are notaries.

For more information about affidavits, please click here.

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8. What is a provisional order?

A provisional order is an order made in one reciprocating jurisdiction, but it is of no force and effect until a confirmation order is granted in the other reciprocating jurisdiction. 

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9. Will I have to get a provisional order under the ISO Act?

A provisional order may be made by the court in Nova Scotia but it is of no force and effect until a confirmation order is granted in the reciprocating jurisdiction.  You will not be required to get a provisional order unless required by the reciprocating jurisdiction where the respondent lives. In these cases, there will be a court hearing held in Nova Scotia and the resulting provisional order will be sent for a confirmation hearing in the respondent's jurisdiction.

If you are not certain whether a provisional order is required, or what forms you should be completing, you should speak to a lawyer or court staff for help.

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10. Do I have to go to court for my ISO application?

If you are the applicant seeking a support order or variation order, you are normally not expected to appear or to be represented by anyone at the court hearing in the other jurisdiction. If your matter proceeds through the provisional process, however, you may be required to attend a court hearing in Nova Scotia.

If you are the respondent in a support application, or support variation application, and you are served by the courts with a notice to appear, you are required by law to attend the court hearing. As a respondent, it is to your benefit to attend in any event, so that you can present your own evidence and arguments to the court. If you do not, the Nova Scotia ISO Act says that the court may grant a support (or support variation) order in your absence.

If you are not using ISO to make your application, you may be required to attend a court hearing wherever the matter is proceeding. This would usually be where the application was filed.

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11. How long does an ISO application take?

It depends. ISO applications can take a long time to be processed, as they involve two different jurisdictions (courts in different places), but the length of time it takes can vary.

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12. What happens when I file my ISO application?

To start an application under ISO, you must complete and swear a support application (or a support variation application) before a Commissioner of Oaths, a lawyer, or a notary, where required. You may want to consider having your documents notarized in any event, just to be on the safe side. You should use standard ISO forms for your application. The forms are designed to have you provide detailed information, so that the court in the respondent's jurisdiction will have enough evidence from you to properly consider your application and make a decision.

Once you have completed the support application and all other required documents, you will deliver them to the Nova Scotia court. The application package is then forwarded to the respondent's jurisdiction for a court hearing and decision. You will be given a certified copy of any order granted in that jurisdiction once the Nova Scotia courts receive it.

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13. Who do I get to sign my ISO application? What does ‘notarizing’ mean?

When you have completed all of your required documents - and have them reviewed by a lawyer, if possible - you will need to have them sworn or affirmed. This means that you will swear on a holy book, or make a solemn promise, that everything in your documents is true. You need to be witnessed signing the documents by a Commissioner of Oaths, a lawyer, or a Notary Public where required. Your signature needs to be witnessed on the application document (Form A) and perhaps other documents as well (like an affidavit, if you've prepared one).

Whether your application must be notarized depends on the rules in the jurisdiction where it is being sent. To be on the safe side, best practice is that you get your ISO application notarized.

The following people are Notaries Public in Nova Scotia:

  • Lawyers who have applied, and been approved, to be Notaries Public
  • Sitting MLAs
  • Commissioned Canadian Armed Forces officers
  • Chief officers of municipal police departments
  • Commissioned RCMP officers on active service
  • RCMP head of detachment officers, who are on active service in the province

The person swearing/affirming or notarizing your documents will also sign and stamp the documents. Your completed ISO documents must then be delivered to the court.

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14. What is the filing fee for an ISO application?

There is usually no fee for filing an ISO application. You will have to pay lawyer’s fees if you hire a lawyer to help you with your ISO application. You may also have to pay a small fee to have your documents notarized.

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15. Where can I get help for my ISO application?

A court staff member may be able to assist you with general information about the ISO process, but cannot give you advice about your particular situation or fill out forms for you. You can speak with a family law lawyer for advice, or for help filling out forms.

There may also be a Summary Advice Counsel service through the court near you. The Summary Advice lawyer may be able to assist you with questions about your ISO application, but may not be able to help you fill out your forms.

You can contact your local Summary Advice lawyer to book an appointment by calling the number below:

Annapolis

902-742-0500

Pictou

902-485-7350

Antigonish

902-863-7312

Port Hawkesbury

902-625-2665

Amherst

902-667-2256

Sydney

902-563-2085

Bridgewater

902-543-4679

Truro

902-893-5840

Halifax

902-424-5616

Windsor

902-679-6075

Kentville

902-679-6075

Yarmouth

902-742-0500

 

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16. I am involved in an ISO matter, but would like to try to settle the case without going to court. What are my options?

You may be able to use a process called Assisted Dispute Resolution – or ‘ADR’ – instead of going to court for your ISO matter. The ADR process is conducted with a trained, impartial court officer who will work with you and the other party to help you negotiate and try to reach an agreement.

ISO applications involving Nova Scotia may be considered for ADR. The parties may be contacted by a Nova Scotia court officer if the application is appropriate for this process.

There are things you need to know before agreeing to an ADR process for an ISO application. This information sheet explains one of the complicated issues.  

Both parties must agree to use the ADR process. If either party does not agree, ADR will not be offered.

A lawyer may be able to help you negotiate a settlement in some cases. You should speak with a lawyer about this option.

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17. What is the court officer’s role in the ADR process?

The court officer will help the parties identify the issues, share information, and try to help you finalize the terms of a court order. The court officer does not represent either party in the case. The court officer cannot force the parties to come to an agreement.

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18. What do I have to do to help with this process?

If you are agreeable to trying ADR for your ISO matter, first make sure you fill out and send in any documents you’ve been asked to complete, including the form called ‘Consent to Participate in Assisted Dispute Resolution.’

When you agree to participate in ADR for your ISO matter, you must participate in all scheduled meetings and keep in regular contact with the court officer. You must also provide any information or documents requested by the court officer or a judge. If you do not do these things, the ADR process can't continue.

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19. Can I have a lawyer for this process?

Yes. It is always a good idea to get legal advice. If you are represented by a lawyer for your ISO matter, let the court officer know. Let your lawyer know if you are going through the ADR process.

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20. What happens if we reach an agreement through the ADR process?

If an agreement is reached through the ADR process, the court officer will prepare a consent order for the parties to review and sign. You will have a 10 day period to think about the draft order and get legal advice about the order during this time.

If both parties are still in agreement with the order after this 10 day period, the consent order may be forwarded to a judge for review and issuance.

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21. What happens if we don’t reach an agreement in ADR?

If you don’t reach an agreement, that’s ok. The matter will proceed as if you had not participated in the ADR process.

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22. The other party on my ISO case lives in Quebec or the UK. What do I need to know?

Quebec and the United Kingdom require what is known as a provisional order. You will need to apply to a Nova Scotia court for a provisional order. The Nova Scotia court will forward the provisional order and the evidence to the reciprocating jurisdiction. The court in the reciprocating jurisdiction will hear the respondent’s evidence as well as review the material in your application and will either confirm the order granted by the Nova Scotia court, substitute its own order, or refuse to confirm the order. You should speak to a lawyer for help and advice.

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23. The other party on my ISO case lives in the Pacific Ocean region. What do I need to know?

The Pacific Ocean region, including Australia and New Zealand, require special forms for ISO applications. You cannot use Nova Scotia’s ISO forms if the other party lives in one of these regions. You should speak with a lawyer for advice if this is your situation.

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