Enforcing orders of Spousal Support

In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is not only responsible for enforcing child support payments, but also spousal support. If your ex-partner is late on a payment or payments have been missed altogether, contact the FRO immediately.

What is FRO?

The FRO is a provincial government office with the authority to enforce support payments and domestic contracts filed in court. The court automatically files support orders with the FRO. Any separation or domestic contracts can also be enforced by the FRO if they are properly filed in court and partners register with the FRO.

The FRO will receive payment from the payor spouse and deposit it directly into the account of the recipient spouse. Parties can opt-out of the program and choose to exchange support payments directly, however, if they wish to re-open a case in the future, parties will need to re-register and pay a fee.

What if the payor spouse does not live in Ontario?

The FRO is a provincial maintenance enforcement program that has agreements with every Canadian province and territory, and over 30 other countries. The FRO will ensure that support payments are enforced regardless of whether the payor spouse resides in Ontario.

How does the FRO collect unpaid support?

If you are the payor spouse and you fall behind on payments, it is important to contact the FRO as soon as possible.

If the payor spouse does not meet their support responsibilities, the FRO has the power to take enforcement action. Enforcement actions include:

· Garnishing money the payor spouse is entitled to receive (e.g. income tax refunds, Employment Insurance, Workers’ Compensation, Canada Pension Plan benefits)

· Registering a charge, or a lien, against personal property or real estate

· Garnishing bank accounts or up to half of a joint bank account that they have with someone else

· Reporting the payor to the credit bureau

· Reporting the payor to their professional or occupational organization(s)

· Seizing lottery winnings

· Suspending or denying provincially issued licences such as a driver’s licence

· Requesting the federal government suspend passports or other federal licences; and

· Starting a default hearing, which could result in jail time

What if the payor spouse declares bankruptcy?

If the payor spouse declares bankruptcy, they will still owe support.

Can the FRO make changes to spousal support orders?

The FRO cannot make any changes to support orders. Only courts can change orders. To change a support order, a party must file a Motion to Change form with the appropriate court. To change a domestic contract, the payor and recipient will need to negotiate a new agreement and file the agreement in court.

There are a number of circumstances where support terms of court orders or domestic contracts should change. Our experienced Family Lawyers can assist you through the process of changing spousal support orders.

The FRO is a reliable enforcement program and it is essential to provide their office with the most up to date information as the payor spouse and recipient spouse. For more information on enforcing spousal support payments or changing spousal support payments, please contact our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.

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