Divorce - Help - I can't pay my child support

I am five months behind in my child support after a
lay-off and a new job with less pay. My ex-wife will
not let me see my children and they think I am a
deadbeat.   I can't seem to get anywhere with anyone.
Any suggestions?
david ingram replies:
Yes and no!
If you are in the Greater Vancouver area (your email
address looks like it), the following are good
1.    I think the logical lawyer to talk to for child
access is Carey Linde at 604-684-7794.  You can see
more about Carey and his fight for the rights of
fathers at www.divorce-for-men.com.
2.    If you are behind in your child support, you are
likely behind in everything else and may need to
consider bankruptcy.  Getting rid of the rest of the
bills might allow you to catch up on the child support.
See a Bankruptcy lawyer BEFORE you see a Trustee.  The
Bankruptcy Trustee does NOT work for you. Call Murray
Morrison at (604) 930-9013. http://www.morrocolaw.ca/
3.     In my own ongoing divorce (which is just
following a bankruptcy) I am using David Bellamy for
the financial part.  You can get hold of him at (604)
662-8900.  It is difficult to find any family lawyer
who understands the intricacies of a bankruptcy and
child support and other matters.  David has an
excellent grasp of the situation. See him at
4.    If you need a Bankruptcy trustee, I recommend
Gerry Foran at Sands and Company (604) 684-3030-
If you do not live in Greater Vancouver, then any of
these individuals may be ale to refer you to someone in
your area who can help you.
The following is a four year old article out of the
National Post.  It is full of National resources which
you might find helpful. You will notice that it also
contains a reference to Carey Linde.
Following that is an expanded copy of an article about
my own bankruptcy that was published this past spring
in the Western Investor.
  Page URL:
  Tuesday, March 28, 2000
  'This is about punishing Dad'
  His former wife gets 96% of his take-home pay. Is
that justice?
  Donna Laframboise
  National Post
  Last fall, three Ontario Court of Appeal judges
rejected "Michael's" plea to reduce his family-support
payments. In their view, there was no reason why he
shouldn't continue paying $7,153 to his former wife
each month -- $4,153 in child support, plus $3,000 in
  The problem is that this represents 96% of Michael's
monthly take-home pay. While the court included a
severance package, bonuses and other earnings when
calculating his income, the severance was a one-time
thing when he switched jobs, and the other items can't
be counted on.
  From day to day, Michael lives on his annual $158,000
salary. His January, 2000, pay stubs show that, after
deductions such as CPP, EI and income tax, he takes
home $7,455 a month as the chief financial officer of a
prominent corporation. (The National Post has granted
him anonymity at the request of his employer.)
  After making his court-ordered payments, Michael is
left with $302 a month on which to live. In Toronto,
even a single man on welfare is allotted more -- $520 a
month. Put another way, of every dollar Michael earns,
he keeps only 2¢, since 44¢ goes to employment
deductions, 31¢ goes to child support and 23¢ goes to
  Michael is not alone. From one end of the country to
the other, divorced men are being financially ruined by
excessive child- and spousal-support orders made by
judges whose grasp of basic economics is weak. What's
worse, these judges profoundly misunderstand how the
removal of the tax deductibility of child-support
payments in 1997 has affected support payers' lives.
  Michael is the first to admit that, until recently,
he has led a fairy tale existence. Always an
overachiever and leader, he has won awards for both
sports and academics and is one of the youngest people
to make vice-president of a Fortune 500 company.
  "I did not wake up six years ago and say: 'Today's
the day I'm going to start destroying my life,' " he
says. "But that's what happened. It's been a roller
coaster, but it's all been down -- financially,
emotionally, spiritually and physically. I'm close to
bankrupt in all those elements now, and it's 100% as a
result of this divorce."
  In 1994, Michael, his then wife of 14 years and their
three children lived in an $850,000, 9,000-square-foot
home with an indoor pool. But the fairy tale began to
unravel when his wife served him with divorce papers at
the office.
  To her credit, she made no unsavoury allegations
against him. "Her only issue," he says, "is I never
spent enough time with her. And that's a fair comment.
I'm a little wiser now and I know the importance of
that. But frankly, I was driving my career. You get
caught up. We never went into the fact that we were
going to put the kids in private school, but there's a
price to pay."
  Last summer, Michael consulted a trustee in
bankruptcy who declared him insolvent, since he's going
into debt by $4,000 a month. The bankruptcy report says
that when child support stopped being tax-deductible,
Michael went from paying no tax on the portion of his
income earmarked for family-support payments to paying
$3,398 tax each month on this amount.
  It is precisely this tax bite that has eaten up
Michael's chance at a sustainable life. "I have the
greatest bank manager, but he kind of just drew a line
in the sand," he says. "I have the greatest friends,
but they drew a line in the sand. I have begged,
borrowed, I've done everything I can. I've got three
mortgages on [a modest $239,000] house that I've never
had before. I've got a line of credit that's at the
limit. I owe Revenue Canada, I owe Visa. I'm at a
  Nor can it be argued that Michael's former wife is
suffering financially. One thousand tax-free dollars a
week is such an obvious windfall that the Ontario
Lottery Corp. runs a lottery in which this is, in fact,
the prize. Not only does his former wife receive more
than $4,000 in tax-free child support each month, she
gets an additional $3,000 in spousal support. This adds
up to $85,836 a year. Put another way, her income from
Michael is roughly equivalent to that of someone paid a
fully taxable $125,000 a year in the workforce.
  Last December, she purchased a $375,000 home.
According to her 1996 tax return, that year alone she
donated $21,385 to charity.
  Michael is trying to have the matter reheard in court
but says, "Everything gets adjourned and there's always
a legal reason why a motion can't go forward. This was
supposed to go to a motion back in November and then it
was set for December and then it was January. Now it's
I don't know when."
  The stakes are enormous. "I'm a chartered
accountant," says Michael. "If I go bankrupt I lose my
CA, then I lose my job. And even with one of the best
lawyers in the country, I can't get anyone to deal with
  Although last year's court of appeal ruling appears
to take into account Michael's present circumstances,
his lawyer was prevented from telling the judges about
the bankruptcy report and from showing them Michael's
pay stubs because there are strict rules about
introducing new evidence at the appeal level.
  Between them, the three judges apparently failed to
realize how their ruling would translate in the real
world. When Michael's financial ship sinks, his former
wife's standard of living -- and that of the
children -- will be profoundly affected. How anyone
will benefit should the entire family find itself
dependent on social assistance is a question no one
seems to have asked.
  In the past six years, Michael has occasionally
fallen behind in his support payments. He says the
highest his arrears have risen at any one time is
$14,000. Nevertheless, his children are apparently
being encouraged to think of him as a deadbeat.
  "I talked to my 16-year-old son when [a recent
Toronto Star article on deadbeat dads] came out. You
know what he said to me? He said, 'Dad, did you read
that article in The Star? Well that's what I think of
you.' "
  Regarding the appeal court decision, Michael says,
"When you read [it], I'm scum. It comes across as,
'Here's this guy that's trying to circumvent the
system.' The facts are I've paid $535,000 in support in
the past six years. The facts are my kids are in
private school and I pay for it. The facts are this
woman lives in a $375,000 house that I bought. The
facts are I work 70-hour weeks, and she has made almost
no attempt to become self-sufficient.
  "There's enough money to have a good life for
everybody with what I make. I want to pay support.
They're my kids and I want what's best for them. I want
them to have a nice home. But the support has to be
reasonable and fair."
  Michael also points out that his reasons for getting
up in the morning and striving at his high-performance
career are becoming hazy. "I need to have hope and
ambition and motivation. And this system discourages
that. I have no hope. I'm not here to whine. I'm just
here to tell what's happened to my life."
  The stories are remarkably similar across the income
spectrum. In 1997, Denis McKenzie, a Winnipeg postal
worker, had a take-home pay of $1,900 a month after
quitting a supplementary part-time supermarket job
during an ugly divorce that included false sex abuse
allegations against him. Having been ordered to pay
$2,000 in monthly child and spousal support by one
judge, he was forced on to welfare until another
reduced his payments to a more manageable $910.
  Wayne Archer, a firefighter living in Caledon, Ont.,
says that a 1991 child-support order for $750 a month
for his son "represented 91% of my net pay at the
time." (Part of his income was being deducted to repay
an employer-sponsored loan.) "In desperation, I bought
a camper and put it on the back of my pickup truck. I
lived in that with my German shepherd for a year and a
half during the coldest winter in 80 years. It was
minus 21. The dog's water froze on the floor.
Twelve-volt power, a cell phone -- that was my life."
  In the mid-'90s, Dr. Robert Wright, a Clearbrook,
B.C., dentist fled the country after serving jail time
for failing to pay alimony. Although his payments of
$900 a month for child support were up to date, in 1993
Wright ceased paying the monthly $2,500 ordered by the
court in spousal support. At a trial late that year, a
bankruptcy specialist with a prestigious accounting
firm testified that Wright was a bona fide bankrupt.
The judge rejected this evidence, finding Wright in
contempt. He sent him to jail for 60 days.
  Katherine McNeil, a child custody consultant who
advocated on Wright's behalf, says "Dr. Wright made
every effort before going bankrupt to get into court
and have the court order reduced by the amount of
spousal support only, not the child support. He was
repeatedly thwarted by adjournments."
  Even though his marriage had ended seven years
earlier, few people seemed troubled by the fact that
Wright was still expected to support his former wife.
In 1993, he told the media that she "has been living
with a local businessman for over three years in a very
comfortable home with a minimal mortgage. They drive
recent-model vehicles and have tropical vacations."
  It didn't matter, remembers McNeil, "what the facts
were. The courts and the support enforcement agency
seemed intent on destroying this man and what remained
of his relationship to his three children."
  Since 1997, when federal child-support guidelines
were put in place and child support stopped being
tax-deductible, matters appear to have deteriorated.
"My constituency office has received an extremely large
number of constituents requesting our assistance in
this particular area," wrote an Oshawa, Ont., MPP last
year. Since May, 1997, "our office is hearing more and
more of tragic financial situations for many support
  In British Columbia, MLA Linda Reid, the Liberal
opposition's critic for children and families, agrees.
"There's just some horrific stories out there. Folks
are in my office on a regular basis. They're absolutely
committed to doing the right thing for their offspring
but they just cannot, for myriad reasons, make the
system work for them. The national guidelines that came
down in terms of what monthly support should look like,
I don't take any issue with the content of that, but
there's no flexibility."
  Among the biggest flaws is the fact that these
child-support guidelines are based on gross, rather
than net, income. Judges use a table to determine how
much a payer owes based on his income and the number of
children involved. Many judges, however, then slap
alimony on top of this -- ignoring the fact that a
person who is mandated by the courts to pay alimony has
a smaller pool of money from which to draw than his
gross income on a table would suggest.
  Another problem is that, as happened in Michael's
case, judges estimate what a payer's income is likely
to be, and base support awards on this amount. His
ex-wife's lawyer, he says, has "always argued that I
have an ability to make a lot more. Well, based on
bonuses. But if people are on bonuses or commissions,
their income is not guaranteed. So why is support
guaranteed? I've recommended for six years now that
they base it on my base salary and I'll pay some
portion of the bonus when and if I receive it."
  In the case of Denis McKenzie, when determining the
postal worker's income, the judge added an additional
$300 a year he would earn if he delivered extra
flyers -- thus turning an option of earning more money
into an obligation.
  In other instances, courts have determined support
payer's gross incomes by including overtime earnings in
the calculations -- thereby locking these men into
working long hours year after year.
  Susan Baragar, a Winnipeg lawyer, points out how far
such "deeming" of income is taken by the courts. "If I
had a divorced dad who had a job and then quit because
he didn't want to pay child support, you can be darn
certain that the courts would deem income to him based
on what his pay used to be. So if you're a man you're
not allowed to go out and quit your job.
  "But I've had a case where a woman had a
$31,000-a-year job, went on maternity leave, came back
and didn't like that job anymore. She thought she'd
like to start her own business instead, so her income
was reduced to zero -- and she didn't have to pay child
  Indeed, instances in which judges have instructed men
to pay regardless of their employment situation are
common. In 1995, an Ontario police officer who
routinely responded to family-law situations, took a
leave of absence because, he said, he was having
difficulty performing his job after experiencing
first-hand the anti-male bias of the family courts.
  "My sworn duties as a police officer demand that I
perform those duties without discrimination," he wrote
in an affidavit. "Frequently, I have advised disputing
parents to consult with a lawyer to seek a fair and
reasonable resolution in the family court. Given the
discrimination I have been subjected to by the court
[in his own divorce proceedings] I can no longer give
that advice. I cannot at this time perform those duties
in a fair and unbiased matter."
  Deaf to his moral dilemma, Judge Kenneth Langdon
called the leave of absence "a transparent and
contumacious attempt to subvert the court order for
support." Not only did the judge make a new order
directing the officer to "take all necessary steps and
do all necessary things to terminate his leave of
absence and resume regular police duties immediately,"
he expressly forbid him from quitting his job or
accepting an early retirement package. Ten months
later, a second judge, Gladys Pardu, agreed that the
leave of absence was "a reckless and retaliatory action
by the husband."
  Still another problem with the child-support system
comes in the form of add-ons. While it's one thing to
be assessed a given amount of support according to a
government table, many men have discovered that child
support can extend beyond that. Stan Gal, a divorced
father described in yesterday's National Post, was
ordered by a judge to pay $117 in monthly support above
the guidelines for his adult daughter's university
  While the guidelines indicate that Michael's monthly
child support contribution should be $2,953, his
ex-wife has been awarded an additional $1,200 a month
in "extraordinary expenses for the children's
  Edward Kruk, a social work professor at the
University of British Columbia, says non-custodial
parents are often ordered to pay twice the guideline
amount or more. "With preschool children, a lot of dads
who are asking for parenting time with their kids are
being denied that and the kids are ending up in a
daycare setting that fathers then have to pay for as
special expenses," he says. "So suddenly the father's
paying $1,000 a month -- $500 for the guideline amount
and $500 for daycare costs."
  This was not supposed to happen. Indeed, the
federal-provincial task force that developed the
guidelines argued, prior to their implementation, that
"This method of determining the costs of children
produces higher estimates of those costs than other
methods, in part because it assumes to include all
expenses, including daycare, and to apply to children
of all ages."
  A 1998 Senate report says there is "widespread
confusion" among judges and lawyers over what kinds of
expenses qualify as special or extraordinary. "The case
law itself is taking completely contradictory views,"
reads the report. "Some judges apply an objective test,
others a subjective test."
  Finally, even the guidelines themselves are being
challenged. Mike LaBerge, president of the Calgary
chapter of the Equitable Child Maintenance and Access
Society, argues that child support payments often
dramatically exceed the actual costs of raising a
  According to 1999 figures published by the Manitoba
Department of Agriculture (the only government body in
the country to compile such data), it costs $5,500 a
year to raise a school-aged child, and up to $8,500 per
year for a child attending daycare.
  Alan Mirabelli, executive director of the Vanier
Institute of the Family, confirms these are reasonable
estimates of what parents can expect to spend on a
generic child. Families with less money, he says, will
obviously trim their costs by buying less expensive
sneakers. Those with more will send their kids to
pricey summer camps not reflected in these estimates.
  Michael pays $16,600 a year for each of his three
teenagers. Wayne Archer, who was reduced to living in a
camper, pays $9,000 a year for his teenaged son.
  LaBerge says that when you consider that these
amounts represent "only one parent's share of the
costs," our child support system appears to have been
designed not merely to ensure that children's needs are
met, but to transfer income from divorced fathers to
divorced mothers.
  "This is a legally imposed form of social welfare
that you have no way out of," says LaBerge. "This is
about punishing Dad, about making him pay.
  "What you have to tell people is that these policies
will hurt their boy. With divorce rates approaching
50%, their son has a one in two chance of being
victimized by this system. Everyone says child support
is about feeding the children, but it's not."
  Michael's gross pay for January 2000: $13,200.00
  Minus deductions: *5,745.02
  Net pay: 7,454.98
  Minus child and spousal support: 7,153.00
  What's left for Michael: $301.98
  Income tax: $4925.38
  Canada Pension Plan: 477.92
  Employment insurance: 300.00
  Long-term disability: 36.72
  Social fund: 5.00
  TOTAL: $5,745.02
  To standard employment deductions: 44 cents
  To child support: 31 cents
  To spousal support: 23 cents
  To Michael: 2 cents
  Sources: Michael's End of January 2000 Pay Stub and a
1999 Ontario Court of Appeal Decision
  (Each link opens a new window)
    a.. American Coalition for Fathers and Children
    A well funded, well organized American lobby group.
    a.. Children's Rights Council
    "Works to assure children meaningful and continuing
contact with both their parents."
    a.. Dads Can
    An organization devoted to encouraging involved
    a.. Dads Canada
    Strategies for men going through divorce.
    a.. Equitable Child Maintenance and Access Society
    Devoted to the well being of children from
separated and divorced families.
    a.. Fathers Are Capable Too
    This site promotes the philosophy that = the best
parent is both parents.
    a.. Fathers For Justice (no longer on-line)
    Attempts to assist non-custodial parents with
divorce-related problems.
    a.. Men's Educational Support Association
    Devoted to educating and supporting fathers
    a.. The Second Wives Club
    A U.S.-based online community for step moms and
second wives.
    a.. Shared Parenting
    A site dedicated to issues affecting non-custodial
    a.. Alternative Dispute Resolution Resources
    An American site geared to solving problems outside
the courtroom, via mediation.
    a.. Balance: The Inclusive Vision of Gender
    Alberta-based on-line magazine.
    a.. The Child Support Guideline Problem
    A great research paper that critiques the guideline
approach to child support.
    a.. Divorce for Men
    Run by Carey Linde, a Vancouver family law lawyer.
    a.. Everyman: A Men's Journal
    An online magazine devoted to men's issues.
    a.. Family Law Centre (updated link)
    Resources put together by Gene Colman, a Toronto
family law lawyer.
    a.. The Liberator (updated)
    An American men's movement magazine.
    a.. Project for the Improvement of Child Support
Litigation Technology
    Run by child support expert Roger Gay.
    a.. Razberry.com
    The personal web site of National Post journalist
Donna Laframboise
    a.. Child Support Canada
    A division of the Department of Justice, with links
to Child Support guidelines and legislation.
    a.. Ontario Family Responsibility Office (changed
ministries and websites)
    The provincial body that administers and enforces
support agreements in Ontario. The site lists many of
the means by which agencies chase support payers who
are in arrears.
    a.. National Child Support Enforcement Association
    An American advocacy group for child support
    a.. Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement
(United States)
    At the bottom of this page is a series of useful
studies on child support, including a pair on using
private agencies to collect payments.
    a.. Selected Statistics on Canadian Families and
Family Law
    November 1997 study compiled by the Department of
    a.. Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and
Access (updates, contains report)
    Contains minutes of all meetings.
    a.. Status of Women Canada
    Federal government agency mandated to promote
gender equality.
    a.. Joel Miller's Family Law Centre
    A large Canadian-based site with comprehensive
links to family law guidelines and legislation.
    a.. The Children's Voice
    Advocates the dismantling of the adversarial system
in Canadian family law.
    a.. Women's Justice Network (offline, now an
Ontario-funded group)
    This page put together by a Canadian coalition of
women's organizations discusses reactions to the
Special Joint Committee on Custody and Access. Links to
the dissenting reports of the Reform, NDP and Bloc
Quebecois parties.
    a.. Spousal Support Under Canada's Divorce Act
    A brief look at the issue of spousal support and
how the law treats it.
  Copyright © Southam Inc. "National Post Online is a
production of Southam Inc., Canada's largest publisher
of daily newspapers."
Western Investor Article (Feb or March 2004)
BANKRUPTCY – or How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
I have just received my discharge from bankruptcy.  It
isn’t completely over.  I have to pay $800 a month for
36 months starting on Feb 7th, but that is a lot better
than the $4,853,000 income tax bill that started it
with no assets.
Well there “were” family assets. But over a period of
21 years I went from a positive “paper” net worth of
$4,800,000 to a negative $4,800,000 because of an
income tax bill that I fought in court and lost and
then got stubborn.
If I had to do it again, I would have walked into a
bankruptcy trustee’s office 15 years ago and would have
been able to get on with my life.  Instead I got
stubborn and decided I would go to my grave owing the
CCRA as much as the tax bill increased to before I
So the house was in my wife’s name, the cars were in my
wife’s name, the motorhome was in my wife’s name and
the business was in my wife’s name.  I owned nothing
and was quite enjoying the position.  After all, what
else could anybody do?  Well, there was one thing
someone could do.  In the middle of the bankruptcy my
wife left (with all the assets) but that is another
Thankfully, the CCRA finally gave up on collecting it
and hired a trustee to put me into bankruptcy.  I
understand that I might be the first person that the
CCRA put into receivership in Canada.  No trustee I
have talked to had ever handled a receivership where
the CCRA had put an individual into bankruptcy.  Oh
sure, there were thousands where a taxpayer had
declared bankruptcy because of a tax bill.  But no one
knows of an individual out into bankruptcy by the CCRA.
Now you have to know that I have sent a couple of
hundred people to go bankrupt over the years.  Their
situation was hopeless and bankruptcy was the only
solution. And I had even had an appointment to see a
bankruptcy trustee on July 22, 1999 but luckily, broke
my arm and leg in a motorcycle accident the week before
and never made the appointment. But I should have
rescheduled and got on with my life three years earlier
because it took the CCRA three more years to put me
into bankruptcy and I could have done something with
those three years.  You see, this article is meant to
encourage you to see a trustee and pull the plug if you
are fighting a losing battle, particularly if the major
creditor is the CCRA.
If you have money problems for any reason that could
include divorce, separation, unexpected tax penalty,
leaky condo, company downsizing, illness, an accident
or any combination of the above, you will need help.
That help may be as simple as taking an adult education
course in family finances at your local high school.
Most adult education courses include such a course and
even though I taught them for years, it did not keep
"me" out of that $5,000,000 bankruptcy after three of
the above events occurred.
If you need more immediate help and you happen to live
in Greater Vancouver, contact a credit counselor such
as Margaret Johnson at SOLUTIONS CREDIT, 200-10351
150th Street in Surrey - 1-877-588-9491 or locally
(604) 588-9491.   www.creditsolutions.ca
www.solutionscredit.com mnjohnson at creditsolutions.com
 As her pamphlet suggests;
"Budgeting involves more than just arithmetic.  It
takes determination.  People experiencing financial
difficulties need objective, unbiased neutral
That statement applies to your finances when you have
an income and bad spending habits.  It does not cover
the financial disasters that I seem to see on a daily
basis.  I am talking about the $186,000 income tax
reassessment for something that happened five years
ago.  I am talking about the leaky condominium crisis
where the debt is $100,000 and you would have to earn
$190,000 and pay $90,000 income tax to have $100,000
left and that is not counting interest accruing while
you are doing it.
In this case, you need to consult competent help that
does NOT start with a bankruptcy trustee, a night
school course, a credit counselor or an accountant.
Now, you need a lawyer and not "just" any lawyer.  You
need a Murray Morrison, who specializes in Bankruptcy
law and will work for you and give you and your family
the advice it needs to preserve any assets possible and
tell you what you can do and cannot do.
BUT, why not save a couple of dollars and go directly
to the trustee.
The simple fact is that the trustee does NOT work for
you.  When you sign that paper, the trustee that you
searched out, the trustee that you found in the yellow
pages, the trustee your banker, hairdresser, mechanic,
best friend or worst enemy recommended is not working
for "you".
The trustee is working for the creditors.  Their job is
to get the most for the creditors following local
federal, state or provincial guidelines that have
different limits in each province and each state.
To access all these limits click on the best site I
know of: http://www.bankruptcycanada.com
British Columbia for instance is:
  a.. Equity in a home in Greater Vancouver and
Victoria = $ 12,000.  In the rest of the province   = $
  b.. Equity in Household items   = $ 4,000;
  c.. Equity in a Vehicle    = $ 5,000;  The vehicle
exemption drops to $2,000 if the debtor is behind on
child care payments (to facilitate the enforcement of
Maintenance Orders)
  d.. Equity in work tools    = $ 10,000;
Equity in essential clothing and medical aids is
Alberta shows its agrarian roots with much larger
exemptions as follows:
  a.. Food required by the debtor and his/her
dependants during  the next 12 months;
  b.. Necessary clothing of the debtor and his/her
dependants up  to a value of $4,000;
  c.. Household furniture and appliances up to a value
of  $4,000;
  d.. One motor vehicle not exceeding a value of
  e.. Medical and dental aids required by the debtor
and his/her dependants;
  f.. Where the debtor is a bona fide farmer and whose
principal source of  livelihood  is farming  160 acres
if the debtor's principal residence is located on  that
160 acres and that the 160 acres is part of the
debtor's farm;
  g.. The equity in the debtor's principal residence,
including a mobile home, up to a value of $40,000.00;
  h.. If the debtor is a co-owner of the residence, the
amount of the exemption is reduced to an amount that is
proportionate to the debtor's ownership interest;
  i.. Personal property (i.e. tools, equipment, books)
required by the debtor to earn income from the debtor's
occupation up to a value of $10,000;
  j.. Where the debtor's primary income is from farming
operations, personal property required by the debtor
for the proper and efficient conduct of the debtor's
farming operations for the next 12 months.
 Saskatchewan Exemptions and agrarian routes are even
more generous:
For Non-Farmers:
  a.. Household furniture and personal effects to a
value of $4,500 per person;
  a.. Tools of the trade to a value of $4,500;
  a.. A motor vehicle, if required for employment;
  a.. $32,000 equity in your home ($64,000 if jointly
  a.. Certain life insurance policies;
  a.. RRSPs, RRIFs and DPSPs are exempt from seizure
(effective March 4, 2003);
  a.. Certain pensions.
  For Farmers:
  a.. Furniture, furnishings and appliances to a value
of $10,000;
  a.. The cash equivalent of produce sufficient to
provide food and fuel for heating until the next
  a.. All livestock, farm machinery and equipment,
including one car or truck, necessary for the next
twelve months operations;
  a.. One motor vehicle, if required for business or
profession, but not in addition to the one above;
  a.. Tools and equipment to a value of $4,500 used by
a farmer in his trade or profession;
  a.. Equity in personal residence to a value of
$32,000 ($64,000 if jointly owned);
  a.. Seed grain equal to two bushels per acre of land
under cultivation;
  a.. RRSPs, RRIFs and DPSPs are exempt from seizure
(effective March 4, 2003);
  a.. Cash equivalent of crop equal to:
    a.. unpaid harvesting costs;
    b.. living expenses to next harvest;
    necessary costs of farming until next harvest.
  a.. The homestead;
  a.. Certain life insurance policies;
  a.. Certain pensions
MANITOBA Exemptions are a little light:
 Furniture, household furnishings and appliances not
exceeding total value of $4,500;
  a..  Necessary and ordinary clothing of the debtor
and family;
  a..  Food and fuel necessary to family for period of
six months or cash equivalent;
  a.. If debtor is a farmer:
  a.. animals necessary for farming operation for 12
  a.. farm machinery, dairy utensils and farm
equipment necessary for ensuing 12 months;
  a.. one motor vehicle if required for purposes of
agricultural operations.
  a.. Home quarter.
  a.. Tools, implements, professional books and other
necessaries  not exceeding a total value of $7,500 used
in practice of  trade, occupation or profession;
  a.. One motor vehicle, if necessary for work or
transportation to and from work, not      exceeding
$3,000 in value;
  a.. Articles and furniture necessary to performance
of religious services;
  a.. Seed sufficient to seed all land of debtor under
  a.. Health aids, including wheelchair, air
conditioner, elevator, hearing aid, eye glasses,
prosthetic or orthopaedic equipment, necessary to
debtor or family;
  a.. Chattel property of municipalities and schools;
  a..  Actual residence of the bankrupt, equity of
$1,500 each if in  joint tenancy, or $2,500 if not in
joint tenancy.
If you are in BC, Bankruptcy lawyer  Murray Morrison is
in the same office as Solutions Credit that is just
behind the Guilford Shopping Centre at:
Murray Morrison
200-10351 150th Street
Surrey, BC, CANADA, V3R 4B1
(604) 930-9013 Fax (604) 588-2005
email to morrocolaw at telus.net www.morrocolaw.ca
Talk to someone like Murray first.  Get your law
straight.  Learn what you get to keep and what the
limits are.  In BC for instance you can have $5,000
equity in a car.  However, The Bank of Nova Scotia (for
one) will insist on seizing your car even if you have
never missed a payment if the car loan is with them.
Arranging for someone else to take over the loan before
you go bankrupt could make the transition easier.
I advised one lady client to go bankrupt at this time
last year for a $140,000 tax bill (which was unjust,
unfair and illegal in my opinion) that we had fought
for two years.  (Canada decided to tax her
retroactively on her income for five years even though
she was an American living in the states.  They decided
she spent too much time in Canada and she had since
moved to Canada officially - Bankruptcy was the only
way to get rid of it and start over.)
I was blindsided by the Bank of Nova Scotia's new
policy of not allowing anyone to keep a car.  Luckily,
a friend paid out the bank and loaned her the money and
she kept her car.  It would have been far easier if we
had known that in advance.  Her Bankruptcy Trustee was
blind sided as well.  It was also the first one he had
 Other assets you can keep (for a total of $32,000 if
they all exist) are:
  a.. Equity in a home in Greater Vancouver and
Victoria = $ 12,000.
  b..  In the rest of the province   = $ 9,000;
  c.. Equity in Household items   = $ 4,000;
  d.. Equity in a Vehicle    = $ 5,000;  The vehicle
exemption drops to $2,000 if the debtor is behind on
child care payments (to facilitate the enforcement of
Maintenance Orders)
  e.. Equity in work tools    = $ 10,000;
Equity in essential clothing and medical aids is
After you have made a decision, you need a trustee.
Remember, they are all working for your creditors, NOT
He was not  "my" trustee but Gerry Foran at Sands and
Associates is a decent guy you can deal with. I
recommend him once a week at least.
Gerry Foran
E Sands & Associates Inc
1100 Melville Street
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6E 4A6
(604) 684-3030
Sands and Associates also have satellite offices in
Surrey, Burnaby and Langley.
Trustees might not like me saying this but you do not
even need money to go bankrupt.  The trustee can be
paid from your assets, tax refund or might not even get
paid until after the bankruptcy.  While I was actually
writing this, another client who I had sent to go
bankrupt came in to return some material I had loaned
him.  I said thank you and suggested that he must have
his discharge by now.  He did not have it.  He only had
a conditional discharge because he still owes the
trustee $1,500 which he expects to have very soon.
Another client is in the same position.  However, they
do not have a dozen creditors phoning looking for
Hope this helps.  Remember - see the lawyer first -
before you see the trustee.  And only talk to a lawyer
who deals regularly with bankruptcy and appears in
court for bankrupts protecting their rights. That means
one in 100 lawyers.  There is little chance that a
lawyer you are already dealing with would be the one
you would use because a bankruptcy lawyer is likely too
busy to do anything else.
david ingram taxman at centa.com www.centa.com
Last but not least, if you want to make a phone call
for a free question and answer to myself, call
anonymously to the Sunday radio program as below:
Answers to this and other similar  questions can be
obtained free on Air every Sunday morning.
Every Sunday at 9:00 AM on 600AM in Vancouver, Fred
Snyder of Dundee Wealth Management and I, David Ingram
will be hosting an INFOMERCIAL but LIVE talk show
Those outside of the Lower Mainland will be able to
listen on the internet at
Local calls are taken at (604) 280-0600 and Long
Distance calls are taken at 1( 866) 778-0600
I do not know how far the LD line reaches.
David Ingram's US/Canada Services
US / Canada / Mexico tax, Immigration and working Visa
US / Canada Real Estate Specialists
4466 Prospect Road
North Vancouver,  BC, CANADA, V7N 3L7
Res (604) 980-3578 Cell (604) 657-8451
(604) 980-0321 Fax (604) 980-0325
Email to taxman at centa.com
www.centa.com www.david-ingram.com
Disclaimer:  This question has been answered without
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regarded only as general comment.   Nothing in this
message is or should be construed as advice in any
particular circumstances. No contract exists between
the reader and the author and any and all
non-contractual duties are expressly denied. All
readers should obtain formal advice from a competent
and appropriately qualified legal practitioner or tax
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