The Ontario Court of Appeal confirmed that spousal support must be paid even if you are appealing the ruling that ordered the support. The person appealing cannot unilaterally stop the support while waiting for their appeal to be heard, unless there is express permission from a court to stop payments.
The ex-husband in question had previously been ordered to pay spousal support to his ex-wife, but had failed to do so. Over time, significant arrears had added up, totaling more than $250,000. The husband had also been ordered to post a letter of credit for more than $580,000 as a form of security for future spousal support that he would owe and to designate his wife as beneficiary under his life insurance policy. The husband also failed to comply with these orders. Instead, he filed an appeal of all the orders.
In response, the wife filed a motion to block the husband’s appeal and requested that the Court refuse to hear the appeal due to his repeated failures to comply with the orders.
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal agreed with the ex-wife and refused to hear the ex-husband’s appeal until he paid the ex-wife all outstanding amounts.
The Court noted that the husband could not just unilaterally treat the support orders as though they were on hold pending his appeals. While the Rules of Civil Procedure allow an appellant (i.e. person filing an appeal) to request a “stay pending appeal”, such a stay must be officially granted by a Court, otherwise the obligation to pay any orders continues even while the parties await an appeal.
The Court went on to note that it had the discretion to refuse to hear the submissions of any person who was in violation of their court-ordered obligations (in this case, the husband).
The Court stated:
In our view, where an appellant wishes to be relieved of his or her trial ordered obligations pending appeal, the proper approach is to bring a stay motion where the circumstances can be brought before the court. If that is not done, then although the court may still hear the appeal in circumstances the court feels require that approach, the court will normally not hear the appeal until the trial order has been complied with.
Consequences for Not Paying Child Support
Spousal support obligations are taken seriously, and courts will see to it that they are enforced. A number of significant legal and financial consequences await those who fail to comply with their support obligations (both spousal and child).
In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office has the power to take action against individuals who owe spousal or child support. Consequences for the non-paying spouse could include:
- Suspension of driver’s license;
- Garnishing of bank accounts;
- Garnishing wages;
- Garnishing money received from the government;
- A lien on property.
If you have questions about spousal support, or other family law obligations, contact Windsor family lawyer Jason P. Howie. Jason is a Certified Specialist in Family Law, and has been a fixture of the family law community of Windsor and Essex County for over 25 years. To book a consultation, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online.