Refraining Orders and the Family Responsibility Office (FRO)

Ontario (Director, Family Responsibility Office) v Korakianitis, 2014 ONSC 2369

This case addresses the issue refraining orders and the Family Responsibility Office (FRO).  In particular, this case dismisses the concept “too big to fail” and addresses enforcement tools used by the FRO.

Background

In 2008, the father was ordered to pay child support of $10,112 per month and spousal support of $8,800 per month flowing from the Order of Justice Quigley dated October 15, 2008.  The Order Arrears for this support total in excess of $2 million.  As such, the Family Responsibility Office has commenced enforcement proceedings seeking the suspension of the father’s driver’s license and has already suspended his Canadian Passport.  The Father wishes to retain his driver’s license so he can find and maintain employment, and he wants his passport reinstated so he can find higher paying employment which entails international travel.

Analysis

Justice Pazaratz found that “the most distinguishing feature of this case is the magnitude of the numbers” (paragraph 16).  Further, the Court found that the Respondent Father seemed to be making the argument that “at a certain stage, if you owe enough, they can’t possibly expect you to pay” (paragraph 16).  Justice Pazaratz did not accept such an argument especially based on the facts before the Court.

The Court held that allowing arrears to accumulate is not to be considered a mitigating factor, but, instead, should be considered an aggravating factor (paragraph 17).  The onus remains “entirely on the Respondent in any proceeding to either change the order or limit enforcement of the order” (paragraph 18).

There are sound public policy reasons why legislation provides the Family Responsibility Office with effective enforcement tools, such as the suspension of one’s passport and/or driver’s license.  Without such effective enforcement tools, the FRO would be left without the ability to ensure a payor’s compliance with support orders.

The Court held that to accept the Respondent’s argument that he would be more likely to generate income with a driver’s license and passport than without such items would “effectively strip FRO of necessary enforcement tools” (paragraph 22).  The Respondent’s choice to ignore the support payments necessitated the FRO to initiate enforcement proceedings.  Further, the Respondent has not demonstrated any sign of good faith, “or a realistic proposal to start making meaningful payments” (paragraph 24).

Given all of the above, the Court dismissed the Respondent’s motion.

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