Although a marriage definitively ends when a divorce is granted, a Toronto divorce lawyer will inform you that the process surrounding divorce is complex and interconnected. Similarly, spousal support may be a compound course. Receiving an order for spousal support or reaching a monetary agreement is only one step. The next step is the enforcement of spousal support.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services of Ontario houses a specialized branch for such matters, called the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). FRO enforces child and domestic support orders and collects support payments for families. This provincial body gains its authority from the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act 1996 which authorizes the FRO to enforce orders filed with the office and transfer the collected funds to the appropriate recipient.

Once an  individual files an order or agreement, FRO will automatically have the legal authority, responsibility and power to recover the money owed. Any changes to a court order will be updated immediately, while any amendments to an agreement must be re-filed with the office to ensure accurate enforcement. Toronto divorce lawyers will ensure any changes or amendments to an order or in the circumstances of the parties are dealt with accordingly.

There are a number of actions FRO is mandated to take if an individual fails to pay his/her spousal or child support payments. The office may:

  • Garnish an individual’s bank account
  • Garnish money an individual may be entitled to receive from the Government of Canada
  • Report the individual to the Credit Bureau
  • Report the individual to his/her professional or occupational organization
  • Suspend the individual’s driver license
  • Suspend the individual’s Canadian passport or other federally granted licenses
  • Place a lien on the individual’s property
  • Issue a writ of seizure and sale for the individual’s property
  • Seize the individual’s lottery winnings
  • Commence a Default Hearing, which may result in up to 180 days of jail time

Failure to pay support obligations on time is a serious matter that will be met with repercussions. Toronto divorce lawyers can assist recipient spouses in garnering the money they are owed in the least acrimonious way possible.