Child support can be a fraught topic between parents who live separately. Even parents who typically co-parent successfully might stumble when it comes to money.
The government has broad authority to take enforcement action when a parent falls behind in child support. However, not all parents file a child support agreement with a court. In such cases, if a parent who owes child support stops paying, the receiving parent might need to take legal action to secure the support their child deserves.
In other cases, a paying parent might hide funds or intentionally underearn to limit their child support obligations. Whatever the circumstances, an Ottawa child support enforcement lawyer could help a parent develop an effective strategy to collect child support. Our seasoned child support lawyers are dedicated to helping you protect your rights and your child’s welfare.
Ontario’s system takes much of the emotion out of child support decisions. For most couples, the court determines the amount of child support payments in accordance with provincial guidelines.
Couples can agree to diverge from the guidelines but must present the reason for doing so, and the court has the discretion to reject an agreement. An Ottawa family law practitioner could help a couple craft their justification for not adhering to the guidelines.
A government agency, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), handles collecting the required amount and distributing it to the receiving parent. In most cases, the payment is automatically deducted from the paying parent’s paycheck and deposited in the receiving parent’s bank account. If a paying parent leaves their job or earns income through self-employment or other means, they could make payments directly to the FRO. If a parent fails to make payments and goes into arrears, the FRO can take several enforcement steps.
The Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act gives the FRO multiple options to secure funds that a parent owes for child support. In many cases, the FRO could intercept the paying parent’s tax refund, unemployment assistance, or other government benefit and pay it to the receiving parent. The FRO also could seize bank accounts, personal property, and real estate.
When a parent has missed three months of payments or owes at least $3000, the FRO could request the government suspend or deny the payer’s passport, marine license, or aviation license. Failing to surrender a suspended passport is a crime punishable by six months in jail, a $5000 fine, or both.
In some cases, the FRO could seek to enforce an order in court. A judge might order a delinquent parent to bring the arrears up to date, pay court costs and fees, and could require the parent to pay a fine and even serve time in jail.
A parent not receiving child support as agreed could decide to bring a legal action seeking enforcement privately, rather than relying on the FRO. Parents who have not filed support agreements with the courts must file a breach of contract claim against the delinquent parent. In either situation, the parent could retain an Ottawa child support enforcement lawyer to help them prepare all or part of their case.
A tenacious legal professional could request a court garnish wages, seize the funds in arrears from the delinquent parent’s bank account or retirement savings, or prevent the parent from transferring property ownership before coming current with their child support. A child support enforcement lawyer in Ottawa may also ask a judge to schedule a hearing where the delinquent parent must explain why they are behind in their support payments.
If you are not receiving the child support you are owed, an experienced legal professional could offer the counsel and support you need.
Children have the right to financial support from both their parents. If your child support agreement is not working as it should, talk to a committed Ottawa child support enforcement lawyer today.
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