Author: Lailna Dhaliwal LLP |

The Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996 (FRSAEA) empowers the Director of the FRO to employ any enforcement method necessary to collect outstanding support orders, whether detailed in the FRSAEA or in other statutes.

The Director does not have the authority to compromise a support recipient’s claim but may exercise discretion in the timing and means of enforcement.

A Director may refuse to enforce a support order at his or her discretion in a number of circumstances, including the following:

  • The amount of support is nominal.
  • The amount cannot be determined from the face of the order because it is expressed as a percentage of income.
  • The order is unclear or ambiguous.

Support deduction order When a court grants a support award, the judge at the same time causes a support deduction order (SDO) to issue. An SDO permits the Director to require an income source to remit funds owing to the support payor to the FRO on account of the support obligation.

An income source is an employer or other individual that owes payments to the support payor including salary, commissions, bonuses, contractual payments, pensions, annuities, shareholder loans or dividends, and income tax refunds.

The deduction is limited to 50 percent of the support payor’s net receipt from the income source after the deduction of income tax, Canada Pension Plan, employment insurance, and union dues.

Under s. 23 of the FRSAEA, up to 100% of certain payments, including income tax refunds or other lump-sum payments attachable under federal enforcement legislation, may be deducted and paid to the Director.

Until the income source begins making deductions, the support payor must directly remit the support payments owing to the Director.

The income source must remit funds to the Director within 14 days. The income source may be liable to pay any amounts that it failed to deduct from the support payor’s pay.

A court may determine any dispute by the support payor about the SDO concerning the quantum of funds being deducted or whether the support payor is in arrears on a motion. The support payor must join the Director as a party on the motion.

Enforcement options of the Director

  • Garnishment Rule 29 of the Family Law Rules (Rules) sets out the procedure for obtaining a garnishment of debts owing to the support payor.
  • The Director may garnish 50% of joint accounts under s. 45 of the FRSAEA.
  • The Director may request production of a financial statement from a payor who is in default of a support order.
  • Writ of seizure
  • Charge against land The Director may register a support order against land owned by the support payor.
  • The Director may register arrears under any support order with the registrar under the Personal Property Securit Act (PPSA) on notice claiming a lien.
  • The Director may collect arrears from a single monetary prize of at least $1,000 or non-monetary prize of the same value payable by a lottery scheme in Ontario.
  • Default hearing If a support payor falls into default on the support order, the Director may invoke a default hearing.
  • Restraining order, A court may make a restraining order to prevent the disposal or wasting of an asset.
  • Arrest of absconding debtor A court may issue a warrant for a support payor’s arrest if the court is satisfied that the support payor is about to leave the province and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the payor intends to evade his or her obligations.
  • Credit bureau report A Director may report default of a support order to a credit bureau (consumer reporting agency).
  • Suspension of driver’s licence The Director may suspend a support payor’s driver’s licence on 30 days’ notice. The driver’s licence will be suspended unless the support payor brings the support arrears into good standing or obtains a refraining order from the Superior Court of Justice in an application to vary the support order or on the undertaking to commence an application to vary. The court may grant a refraining order, which shall terminate on the earlier of the date the application to vary (or motion to change) is determined, the withdrawal of the support order, and six months.
  • Suspension of passport The Director may apply under federal enforcement legislation that federal licences, including but not limited to a Canadian passport, be suspended (FRSAEA).