What To Do If Child Support Is Not Paid?

Divorce can be an emotional and psychological shock on children just as much as it can be on a separating couple.

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It may often take a toll on families if not dealt with cooperatively and amicably at its outset. One of the major issues to be dealt with is child support. However, what if you did deal with all issues at the outset and have a comprehensive Separation Agreement or Court Order, but your ex just does not follow through in making payments for your children? How do you enforce what has been agreed upon or ordered?

Introducing the Family Responsibility Office (FRO)

The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is an office of the Ontario government that is responsible for “collecting, distributing, and enforcing child and spousal support payments.” The FRO’s job is to have the capacity to take action in the event that a parent fails or refuses to comply with a child support order. Accessing the FRO’s services is an option that can bring government weight to meeting a parent’s child support needs, without necessarily having to chase that parent who is delinquent in support payments on your own. Here are some of the FRO’s tools:

  • The FRO has the power to take payments directly from a parent who is mandated to pay.
  • The FRO can garnish wages. Up to 50% of a parent’s employment income can be remitted by the FRO.
  • The FRO can suspend a parent’s driver’s license or even their passport.
  • A parent who has not complied with paying support can be reported to a credit bureau by the FRO.
  • As a nuclear measure, the FRO can imprison or jail a parent for not complying with a support order.
  • Tax refunds can be seized.

The Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act created the FRO and sets out its powers and prerogatives. The FRO is an important institution responsible for enforcing child support payments – going so far as jailing a parent who is not living up to their responsibilities.

What if you can no longer pay child support?

There are many different reasons why a parent/spouse may need to change a support order, which may include a loss of employment, decrease in income, etc. That parent/spouse should consider speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible. He/she may need to change the terms of the support order to prevent the FRO from taking action against them. This is usually done by returning to Court for what is called a Motion to Change proceeding.

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