How child support orders are enforced in Ontario

A divorcing parent and their child

After a divorce case, or separation, is finalized, all the terms and conditions of child support will be arranged and made clear to each of the parties involved, in an agreement or court order. Since this is a legal action, it can’t be overturned without evidence of a change in circumstances that has makes it necessary to revisit the process.

However, for one reason or another, it is possible for an ex to decide to stop sending child support payments. This could be the result of spite, with the ex deciding unilaterally to try to cause financial stress on their former partner. It could also be due to the payor struggling financially, either due to existing obligations or because of financial mismanagement.

Whatever the reason, there is a system in place that will help ensure that child support orders are properly adhered to.

The Family Responsibility Office

The Family Responsibility Office – or the FRO – manages issues of child support non-payment. Since child support is necessary for the well-being of the child, it can’t be withheld or adjusted because of the strained relationship between the parents – regardless of whether one parent is denying visitation.

The FRO has authority to take action against anyone not fulfilling child support payments through a number of methods, including:

  • Taking money directly from a bank account
  • Taking money directly from Government of Canada refunds and other payouts
  • Reporting the case to the credit bureau
  • Suspending payor privileges, such as driver’s licenses or passports
  • Reporting the payor to their employer and seeking to garnish wages

These methods are used to ensure that the child receives the necessary support and that the payor fulfils their obligations. The severity of the penalty depends on the value of the child support payments that have been avoided and how long payments have gone unpaid.

Updates to the Support Order

If it can be determined that there needs to be an update to the support order to change the amount of support being paid out, this can be done by consulting with a family lawyer. Taking this step will require gathering evidence to support the need for a payment update that shows that the previous amount is no longer fair to either of the parties. As a recipient of support, it is important to know if your order is properly filed and the best means to enforce payment.

Contact Epstein & Associates today for a free initial consultation where you can find out our processes and get a sense of how we can work together to make sure your legal interests are well-represented.