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How is spousal support enforced?

When spousal support payments are required as part of a divorce settlement or separation agreement in Ontario, the court will inform the Family Responsibility Office of these arrangements. The FRO will then receive the required support payments from the payor spouse and transfer them to the recipient. Payment can be made by either mailing a check to the recipient or via a direct deposit into a bank account.
If the payment of spousal support is to occur smoothly, the FRO should have information about the payor spouse that is correct and up to date. This information is received by the FRO on a Support Deduction Information Form that is provided by the court along with the support order. This form includes information, such as the payor spouse’s place of employment and social insurance number.
The recipient should ensure that this information is updated when there is any change in the payor spouse’s situation. There are various ways that the FRO can pursue a spouse who does not make their required support payments. They can deduct the monies due from their paycheck or garnish their bank account. If these measures are unsuccessful, the FRO may place a lien against property owned by the payor spouse. The FRO could also encourage payment by suspending the driver’s licence of a delinquent spouse or cancelling that person’s passport. Delinquencies may also be reported to the various credit bureaus.
Spousal support is sometimes a contentious issue, and the efforts of the FRO could be crucial for a spouse who relies on these payments to make ends meet. An experienced family law lawyer may be aware that emotions can run high when negotiating the terms of spousal support, and they may be able to offer guidance that allows an amicable agreement to be reached.
Source: CLEO, “How is spousal support enforced?“, October 27, 2014