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How to Enforce Spousal Support in Ontario


Spousal support can be one of the most contentious issues in a Canadian divorce, so you feel that you are on good legal footing when the court enters its order. After all, under the Ontario Family Law Act, an order for alimony is binding and enforceable. You expect that your ex will comply with the obligation to pay rather than violate it. However, in practice, there are many individuals who fail to pay spousal support. You are left wondering what to do and how to protect your rights, while trying to manage finances without this essential support.

Fortunately, there is a process to enforce alimony through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). The details vary based upon whether the obligation arises through a court order or separation agreement. To ensure a smooth process to enforce your rights, it is crucial to work with an experienced Mississauga spousal support lawyer. Some background on options for enforcement is also informative.

 Function of FRO: When a final divorce decree is entered and it requires one spouse to pay support, the order is automatically registered with FRO. The default process for spousal and child support orders is that the obligor pays FRO, and the amounts are distributed to the beneficiary by FRO.

The agency has the authority to enforce support orders by pursuing the payor based upon any violation of the court’s order, and it pays any amounts collected to the recipient.

 FRO and Separation Agreements: When parties work out the details of spousal support by agreement, the process with FRO is not automatic. You can still protect your right to receive support payments, but you will need to register the agreement with FRO so the agency can perform its functions. It is necessary to file:

  • A copy of the separation agreement;
  • An affidavit regarding the separation agreement and spousal support obligation; and,
  • Forms for registration with FRO.

Once FRO has your registration package on file, it will treat your case the same as if you had a court order. 

Enforcement Powers of FRO: The agency has broad authority to get access to the payor’s financial resources. Some of the tools and strategies FRO uses to enforce spousal support obligations include:

  • Garnishing the payor’s bank and investment accounts;
  • Suspending credentials held by the payor, including a driver’s license and passport;
  • Garnishing funds the payor receives from the government, such as tax refunds;
  • Reporting the payor’s arrearage to credit bureaus;
  • Obtaining a writ to lien, seize, and sell the payor’s property;
  • Placing a lien on personal property, such as a vehicle; and,
  • Pursuing court action to have the payor put in jail.

Discuss Enforcement Options with a Mississauga Spousal Support Lawyer

Though it is a relief to know that there are ways to get your ex to pay, you can see how important it is to retain skilled counsel for assistance. To learn more, please contact Zagazeta Garcia Lawyers LLP at 905-232-0398 or go online to schedule a free consultation. Our office serves families in Mississauga, Brampton, and the Peel Region, and we are ready to help.

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