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Posts tagged ‘enforcement of support’

Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 4 points about enforcing child and spousal support payments


Wednesday’s Video Clip: Top 4 points about enforcing child and spousal support payments

For those ex-spouses who are subject to a court order or have agreed that one of them will pay spousal or child support to the other, there are several points about the enforcement of such orders or agreements that are noteworthy, here are four points to consider:

1. Filing and deduction is automatic.

If the obligation to pay support arises through a court order, these are automatically filed with the Ontario government’s Family Responsibility Office ( or “FRO”). The role of the FRO is to process child and spousal support orders and to provide enforcement support for recipients through various means. The court will also make a “support deduction order” which is filed with the FRO, which directs the paying spouse’s employer to deduct specified support amounts from the paying spouse’s regular pay, and to send those amounts directly to the FRO.

2. Other support agreements filed voluntarily.

In cases where the support obligation comes not from a court order but rather under a domestic contract (such as a separation agreement, cohabitation agreement, or paternity agreement), the support payments can be enforced privately, or if necessary they can still be processed through the FRO. For this to occur, the contract must first be filed with the court, and then filed with the FRO.

3. Enforcement of support payments.

In cases where the paying spouse has not been making the required child or spousal support payments, or has not been making them on time or in full, then the recipient spouse can take legal action to recover the money owed. Potential avenues of individual recourse include having the paying spouse’s wages or bank account garnished, seizing his or her RRSP, or registering the support order as charge or filing a writ on his or her home. The recipient spouse can also request a hearing before a court to obtain an order for payment from the paying spouse, failing which, he or she may be sent to jail. All of these steps can also be taken by the FRO on behalf of a recipient spouse, if the obligation to pay arises pursuant to a court order or if a domestic agreement has been filed with the FRO.

4. Additional enforcement mechanisms through the FRO.

In addition to the list of legal remedies above, the FRO has certain other avenues of recourse and powers available to it, including:

• forcing public officials or individuals to product any records containing information about the paying spouse’s employment and financial circumstances;

• deducting at source any money owed by the federal government to the paying spouse (for example, income tax refunds and/or Employment Insurance benefits);

• suspending the paying spouse’s driver’s license;

• reporting the paying spouse’s default to a credit bureau; and

• taking steps with the paying spouse’s employer to achieve court-ordered enforcement of the support deduction order that has been imposed

We hope you have found this video helpful. If you require further information about enforcing support payments please give us a call or visit our website at

Some Points About the Family Responsibility Office – Its Role and Powers


Some Points About the Family Responsibility Office – Its Role and Powers

In a Blog post a few months ago Top 5 Points About Enforcing Child and Spousal Support Payments , I briefly mentioned the Family Responsibility Office (“FRO”), the role of which is to process child and spousal support orders, and to provide enforcement support for recipients through various means.

In this first of two posts, I thought it would be worthwhile to revisit and hone in on the FRO’s role and processes, and highlight a few points to note:

• Payors who are liable to make support payments – either by court order or domestic agreement – must make those payments directly to the FRO, not to the recipient.  A direct payment to the recipient will not be credited and may result in the FRO taking enforcement action against the payor, with an administrative fee being added.

• Conversely, the FRO does not make a payment to the recipient until the payor has remitted the corresponding payment to the FRO.  As such, the FRO will not pay the recipient for any missed support payments on which the payor has defaulted.

• The FRO has a wide array of available enforcement mechanisms in its arsenal. For example, if a payor is delinquent in making the required support payment, the FRO may take the following steps against him or her (after giving the payor notice in writing):

•garnishing bank accounts (i.e. taking the money owed directly from the payor’s bank account);

•reporting the payor to the credit bureau;

•suspending the payor’s driver’s licence, Canadian passport and federal licences (such as a pilot’s licence);

•placing a lien on the payor’s personal property by registering the amount owed with the Ontario government;

•issuing a writ of seizure and sale for property owned by the payor (any profit from the sale of the property is used to pay the support arrears);

•reporting the payor to his or her professional or occupational organization(s);

•seizing any lottery winnings to which the payor is entitled; and

•starting a “Default Hearing” where the payor is required to explain the default in support payments, and may be liable to serve up to 180 days in jail.

• Changes to support orders or domestic contracts can be made in certain circumstances, for example, where the payor spouse’s income has changed, if one of the spouses has remarried, or if the dependent child has graduated from school or has obtained a job.  In cases where one or both the parties wants to change the support order , the parties will have to apply to the courts by way of a Motion to have the desired changes made.  In cases where the support is being paid under a domestic contract that needs to be changed, the parties will have to negotiate the changes and file the amended contract with the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice (Family Court), as the case may be.  The FRO does not have the ability to make these kinds of changes.

• Ending the obligation to pay support is also subject to certain processes.  At some point, the payor spouse may form the opinion that he or she should no longer be responsible for paying support.  For example, although Ontario laws do not stipulate an automatic end date for child or spousal support payments, the entitlement to child support generally ends when the child turns 18 years old (or for a longer period if he or she is attending school full time).  Also, a court-imposed support order or a domestic contract may set a “terminating event” date, which stipulates an end date for the support.  This can include a child’s graduation from university, for example.  In cases where no end date is stipulated, the payor and recipient spouse must agree on an end date, or else may have to appear before a court to have a date determined.

• Effective November 21, 2011, all support payors and recipients are assigned a dedicated case contact person, whose role is to become familiar with the specifics of the individual case and who can answer questions.  These case contact persons replaces the call centre staff.  Additional initiatives are also in place as of late 2011 to allow for more timely and case-specific assistance and information to new payors and recipients under the auspices of the FRO program.

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at