Even in matters where parties are able to negotiate spousal support amicably, a formal court order provides a measure of protection in that it may be enforced should a dispute arise in future. Additionally, separation agreements can be filed with the court, which makes them enforceable in the same manner as a court order; this results in a document that is both legally binding and recognizable by the court and the Family Responsibility Office.
If a spouse fails to pay spousal support as ordered, the Family Responsibility Office has several mechanisms in place to enforce payment compliance including:
- Garnishing the payor’s wages and bank accounts;
- Suspending the payor’s drivers license and passport; and
- Placing a lien on the payor’s property.
Without a legally binding document, these mechanisms are not available, leaving parties financially vulnerable. (See our article: Enforcing Spousal Support for more information on enforcement mechanisms.)
A court order also provides a measure of consistency in that both the payor and recipient may rely upon the terms in an order when a dispute arises. For example, court orders and separation agreements filed with the court can stipulate how and when spousal support is to be recalculated or terminated.
Finally, court orders and separation agreements are recognized by financial institutions; if you are applying for credit or loans, these documents provide proof of income if you are a support recipient.
Do not jeopardize your future by separating without a spousal support order. Call (905) 581-7222 to discuss your options with an Ontario family lawyer at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C.