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120 How are support orders enforced? To ensure that payments are made, all child support and spousal support orders issued by the courts are now automatically sent to the Ontario Government's Family Responsibility Office. This office then co-ordinates and monitors all support payments by either arranging for the paying spouse to send payments to the office on a regular basis or in some cases by automatically deducting the payments from the supporting spouse's pay. In both situations, the office forwards the payments to the receiving spouse. Although the money is supposed to be forwarded right away there are sometimes administrative delays.
If you have reached an agreement for child support or spousal support without a court order, you can file your agreement with the Family Responsibility Office at any time and ask them to enforce it. They will do so provided that the agreement is capable of being filed with the Ontario Court of Justice. This means the agreement may be enforced as if it were an order of the Court where it is filed.
Once support has been ordered by the court or you have filed your support agreement with the Family Responsibility Office, you will be sent a package of forms to fill out and return. These forms ask for information about you and your spouse including where your spouse works. If the supporting spouse does not sent cheques to the Family Responsibility Office as required, the office can take a number of steps to get the support money. Where the supporting spouse is employed, the Family Responsibility Office will deal directly with the employer to have the money taken directly from the supporting spouse's pay cheque. This is called garnishment. The amount garnished may not exceed 50 percent of the supporting spouse's net income.
If the spouse does not have a regular employer, the Office can sometimes take money from the spouse's other sources of income, such as a bank account, an income tax refund, a pension or even a disability payment. In some circumstances, the Office can also take steps to sell property owned by the spouse and put that money towards support payments. The Family Responsibility Office can also suspend the driver's licence of a defaulting payor spouse.
If you need to enforce an order or agreement for child support or spousal support, you can get assistance from a lawyer or from the Ontario Family Responsibility Office. It is listed in the Blue pages of your telephone book. The Director of the Family Responsibility Office will cease enforcement only with the consent of both the recipient and payor spouses.
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