An Ontario governmental office known as the Family Responsibility Office (the FRO) can enforce support payments. The Court automatically files all support orders with the FRO. Separation agreements can also be filed with it if they have been filed with the Court. The FRO tells the payor to make all support payments to it. When the FRO receives a payment it then sends a cheque to the support recipient, or deposits the money directly into the recipient’s bank account.
If any payments are missed, the FRO takes action to enforce the order or agreement. To do this, it needs up to date information about the payor, including an income source. Sometimes support recipients withdraw from the FRO because it is easier to get the payments directly from the payor. However, if there are problems later the support recipient is free to re-file with the FRO, although there is a modest fee.
The FRO has several different ways to collect ongoing and unpaid support, including:
1. having the payments automatically deducted from the payor’s wages or other income, including commissions, employment insurance, workers’ compensation, income tax refunds, etc.
2. registration of a lien against a home or other real estate;
3. garnishment of bank accounts, or up to one-half of a joint bank account;
4. the making of an order against anyone who is assisting a payor in arrears to hide income or other assets that would otherwise be used to fund ongoing or unpaid support.
The FRO can also apply pressure on a delinquent payor by suspending a driver’s licence, reporting the delinquency to the credit bureau and cancelling a passport. The FRO can also assist in collecting money from a payor who lives in another province, the United States or even another country that Ontario has a reciprocal agreement with.
By Charles Baker