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We spoke with Gabrielle Pop-Lazic, a lawyer with Gelman & Associates, on the subject of what to do if your ex-spouse is not complying with Court Orders regarding the children. Please note that this article is intended as an overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice regarding Court Orders regarding parenting time, child support, or any other family law matter in Ontario, we recommend you schedule a consultation with an Ontario family lawyer. Contact us to schedule a consultation with Gelman & Associates today.
What Is Non-Compliance with Court Orders in Ontario?
An Order is not a suggestion, nor an approximation – is it an Order. If a parenting Order says that a child is going to be dropped off at 6pm on Friday night and picked up at 9pm on Sunday night, there is no discretion to vary those times unilaterally. Unless the parents can agree to a change, those time frames have to be followed.
Courts may have some difficulty enforcing in this area. If there have been one or two incidents in which Orders were not followed, or if a parent did not comply with a Court Order once, but then resumed compliance, this typically is not sufficient to engage a Court process for enforcement.
At Gelman & Associates, our family lawyers may tell clients to keep a log. If there is a persistent pattern of not complying with Court Orders, this may be used as the evidence for bringing the matter in front of the Court for further directions.
Types of Court Orders Regarding Children
There are parenting Orders, which include both decision-making as well as parenting time. Then there are Orders with respect to child support.
Child support may be subject not only to the table specified in the Child Support Guidelines, but also to what are called Section 7 Expenses, or Special and Extraordinary Expenses. Beyond the monthly table child support amount, there are certain expenses to which both parents may have to contribute, proportionally, based on their income. These could include:
- Childcare, if it is necessary for a parent to go to work or school.
- Medical expenses that are not otherwise covered by insurance.
- Extraordinary educational expenses, including university or college tuition and/or expenses once a child graduates from high school, should they continue their education on a full-time basis.
- And more.
What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse Is Not Paying Child Support as Ordered
When it comes to support Orders, time is of the essence. It is expected that if you are not receiving the child support you are owed, that you will bring the matter back to Court. If you do not do this for a long period of time, you may not be able to collect the full arrears going back to whenever the original Order was made.
A parent cannot be criminally charged for non-payment of child support, but the Family Responsibility Office can ask for an incarceration Order for non-payment. Usually, such orders are for short durations.
How Child Support Orders Are Enforced
Child support Orders are typically enforced through the Family Responsibility Office, which has the authority to suspend an individual’s driver’s license, garnish wages, garnish federal payments (e.g. tax refunds, GST credits), and more. If a payor parent refuses to pay child support, the Family Responsibility Office may ask the court to incarcerate them as a punitive measure.
How a Lawyer Can Help with Court Orders
Family law is inherently personal. When dealing with matters of parenting and support, there are many factors and considerations for a Court to keep in mind. The law prioritizes the best interests of the child, but what that means may differ from a parent’s opinion.
A family lawyer may be able to help in several ways. Parenting issues or issues of separation or divorce are typically very emotional, and may bring up a lot of hurt and distress. These types of responses, which are normal, natural, and to be expected, can get in the way of arriving at an optimal legal resolution. When you work with a professional family lawyer, they may be able to lend perspective to your case.
At Gelman & Associates, we see our role as making sure we do what is possible to resolve matters outside of Court. Court is of course always an option, but it is usually the last resort. Our role as family lawyers is to educate our clients as to the possible outcomes when dealing with matters of parenting or support, as well as how reducing the conflict in coming to a resolution can benefit the children.
How to Document Non-Compliance with Court Orders
In Court, it is common for each party to present a different version of the circumstances. Evidence, therefore, may be of tremendous help in bolstering your case. If there have been breaches of parenting Orders, you may wish to record how it happened, how frequently, and to what extent. If a parent is late to return the child, for example, have they been five minutes late or fifty minutes late? Details can make a difference, and having a record you made at the time it happened may be helpful in creating the evidence needed for the Court to address the issue.
Contact Gelman & Associates for a Consultation on What to Do If Your Ex-Spouse is Not Complying with Court Orders Regarding the Children
To address your questions, and to discuss your specific circumstances regarding what to do if your ex-spouse is not complying with Court Orders regarding the children in Ontario, contact us today and book a consultation with Gelman & Associates. Learn how our family lawyers may be of service to you.
Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.