Step one is complete – you have successfully received a judgment from the court or signed an agreement with the other parent addressing child support. But, now you have concerns that the other parent won’t pay support. How can the order or agreement be enforced?
In Ontario, parents owed child support have the option of using the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) or taking legal action on their own to enforce child support. FRO is an office of the government in Ontario set up to help families with collecting child support payments. FRO has the ability to facilitate child support payments between parties and to take action in the event that payments are not being made.
Once the court makes an order for child support, it will automatically be registered with FRO. Alternatively, if you signed an agreement with the other parent addressing child support, the agreement can be filed with the court and then registered with FRO. You are not required to register your agreement with the Court or use FRO to enforce child support. Parties are welcome to opt out of FRO or choose not to use FRO and take their own steps to enforce child support.
If you choose not to use FRO, you can enforce a child support order by:
- Requesting a default hearing, requiring the parent who has not paid child support to explain to the Court why support hasn’t been paid. If the judge is unsatisfied, the judge has the power to order support to be paid or order other remedies;
- Garnish the paying parent’s wages, to require the parent’s employer to pay support directly from the paying parent’s wages;
- Garnish the paying parent’s bank accounts to require the bank to pay support directly from the paying parent’s accounts;
- Seizing the paying parent’s RRSP;
- Register the support order as a charge on the paying parent’s property; or
- file a writ against the paying parent’s property
However, if you do use FRO, in addition to the above, they are able to enforce child support orders by:
- Requesting records containing information about the paying parent’s employment or financial circumstances from any person or public body;
- Deducting the support owed from any money payable to the paying parent from the federal government (such as income tax refunds or EI benefits);
- Report the amount of support owed by the paying parent to a credit bureau;
- Intercept any Ontario lottery winnings over $1,000 owed to the paying parent
- Suspend the paying parent’s driver’s license; or
- Suspend the paying parent’s federal licenses or privileges (such as a Canadian passport).
There are benefits and drawbacks to using FRO or enforcing support orders on your own. Our lawyers in the Toronto office of Hart Legal have experience with enforcing child support orders using both methods. If you need assistance obtaining child support or enforcing a child support order, contact us for an initial consultation and find out how we can help you. We have offices in Downtown Toronto, Burlington, Newmarket, and Vaughn for your convenience.