A court order for spousal support can be enforced through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), a division of the Ministry of Community and Social Services Ontario. Registration with FRO is the default regime for court orders that contemplate spousal and/or child support, which means that spousal support payments will be sent to FRO by the payor and will be subsequently distributed to the recipient by FRO. Parties that do not wish to have FRO manage their support payments may, on the consent of both parties, opt out and exchange support payments directly.
Spousal support provisions that are part of a separation agreement (or other domestic contract) may be registered with FRO for the purposes of collecting and distributing support payments. Unlike the default regime for court orders, this process is not automatic; parties must register their agreements by filing an Affidavit for Filing (form 26B) with the court and mailing copies of the agreement, affidavit, and FRO registration package to the Family Responsibility Office.
How the Family Responsibility Office Enforces Spousal Support Orders
Section 5 of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act gives FRO the authority “to enforce support orders where the support order and the related support deduction order, if any, are filed in the office and to pay the amounts collected to the person to whom they are owed.”
FRO has the ability to enforce support orders using several mechanisms including:
- Garnishing the payor’s bank accounts;
- Garnishing money received by the payor from the government (tax refunds, benefits);
- Reporting the payor to the credit bureau;
- Suspending the payor’s driver’s licence, passport, and federal licenses (aviation, marine);
- Placing a lien on personal property (including vehicles) owned by the payor;
- Issuing a writ for the seizure and sale of the payor’s owned property;
- Reporting the payor to any professional organizations to which he or she belongs;
- Seizing the payor’s lottery winnings; and
- Initiating a court action resulting in jail time of up to 180 days.
Out of Province Support Orders
Ontario’s Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act is a statute that sets out the process for the enforcement of out-of-province support orders. Even if the payor lives outside of Canada, recipients are generally able to enforce a spousal support order if the payor lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction.
For more information on enforcing spousal support in Ontario, call (905) 581-7222.