Enforcement of Family Support Orders in Ontario


Ontario recently implemented the Hague Convention on International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenence, making it easier to enforce inter-jurisdictional support orders in Ontario. This blog examines the enforcement mechanism for a support order implemented through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), including what wages or monies are relevant to enforcement proceedings.

The Family Responsibility Office of Ontario

The FRO is a government agency in Ontario responsible for enforcing child support and spousal support orders. It ensures that support payments are made regularly and on time. It does not enforce orders for equalization payment(s). The FRO can also enforce domestic contracts if filed with the Ontario Court of Justice pursuant to section 35 of the Family Law Act (FLA).

The FRO is governed by the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996 (FRSAEA), which allows it to employ a broad range of enforcement mechanisms to recover money. Generally, the FRO uses various enforcement measures, such as garnishing wages, suspending driver’s licenses, and placing liens on property to ensure compliance with support orders. Its services are valuable in alleviating financial hardship for many families and promoting the well-being of children and spouses who depend on these support payments. More detail on the available enforcement mechanisms will be provided below. 

The FRO also has the discretion of whether to refuse enforcement of an order. It may do so when the amount of support is nominal, the amount cannot be determined from the face of the order, or the order needs to be clarified or clarified. 

Nevertheless, the parties may choose to opt out of enforcement. They do so by jointly filing a notice of withdrawal with the FRO, but the recipient may opt back in if they choose. Otherwise, to cease enforcement proceedings, the order must be terminated. 

Support Deduction Orders

The FRO issues Support Deduction Orders (SDOs) to require employers or other payors to deduct support amounts directly from the payor’s income and send them to the FRO for distribution to the recipient. The FRO can only deduct up to 50 per cent of the payor’s net receipt from an employer (or other income source) after tax deductions, CPP contributions, employment insurance, and union dues. However, some payments, such as income tax refunds, can be wholly remitted. 

A court may suspend an SDO if it would be unconscionable for the support to be paid utilizing the SDO. 


Garnishment is a legal process where a portion of a person’s wages or assets are withheld to satisfy a debt or obligation. In the context of child and spousal support enforcement, the FRO often uses garnishment to collect support payments directly from the payor’s income. Garnishment permits the seizure of wages, pensions, bank accounts, rents, and other sums of money, similar to an SDO. The FRO can only garnish 50% of the funds in joint accounts. 

The court issues the process for filing a request for garnishment.

Writ of Seizure and Sale 

A writ of seizure and sale is a court order that allows a creditor to seize and sell a debtor’s property to satisfy a debt. The FRO may use this writ to enforce child and spousal support orders, enabling them to seize and sell the debtor’s assets to collect the outstanding support payments.

Charge against Land 

A charge against land is a legal claim or encumbrance on a property that secures the repayment of a debt or obligation. The FRO can register a charge against a debtor’s property, enabling the enforcement by selling the property (similar to a mortgage). 

Personal Property Security Act Registration

Personal Property Security Act (PPSA) registration refers to registering a security interest in personal property under the Personal Property Security Act (PPSA). The FRO may register a PPSA charge against a debtor’s personal property, which will have priority over many subsequently perfected security interests. 

Default Hearing 

The FRO also can invoke a default hearing if the support payor defaults on the support order. The hearing could be used to require the payor to pay the arrears by periodic payments, discharge the arrears, provide security, or order imprisonment. 

Broad Enforcement Mechanisms of the FRO

In addition to the above, the FRO can also: 

  • Require information disclosure;
  • File a restraining order; 
  • Order a credit bureau report; 
  • Suspend a driver’s licence; and 
  • Suspend a passport.

Experienced Windsor Family Lawyers Advising On Spousal Support And Child Support Orders

From calculating child support and spousal support payments to assisting in decision-making responsibilities matters, Johnson Family Lawyers in Windsor have the knowledge and experience to advocate for your rights and achieve the best possible outcomes. Whether you’re seeking support arrangements for yourself or ensuring the well-being of your children, our dedicated family law lawyers understand the importance of these matters in your life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at 519.973.1500 or online.

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