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Enforcement of Multiple Support Orders on One Payor

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Anonymous Asked:

My question is in regards to Multiple Support Orders on ONE PAYOR in Ontario. I'm separated from my husband. We have a signed separation agreement outlining his support obligations to me for our two children who live with me. We did not have to go to court for this, just went through our lawyers to get it executed. Prior to our marriage, he had two other children from a previous relationship in which he has an existing court order in place for support obligations. This court order predates our separation. My exhusband was very good at paying his support for the first few years we were separated, however, over the past few months has started to be very spotty in paying so I'm considering getting a court order based on our separation agreement so that the Family Responsibility Office will collect the child support for me. My question now becomes: how does FRO handle multiple support orders? Do they collect and pay chronologically? And what happens if they don't collect the full amount monthly of the combined two orders? Will this mean my children (for lack of better terms) are second in line to be paid their support simply because his other children had a support order in place FIRST? Another complication is I believe he is in arrears to his first support order in excess of $15,000. Would FRO put any funds deducted from him to the arrears on the first order first? I realize that getting an order would mean interest would start accruing on payments he doesn't make and FRO would put any of my support amounts to arrears as well for collection in the futue. But in that situation it could take YEARS to get funds and I need the funds NOW to feed and clothe my kids. To add insult to injury, the mother of the children for whom the first support order is in place is on Ontario Works (welfare) so has assigned her support to them, meaning SHE gets paid whether he pays his support under her order or not as OW sends her a cheque for support amounts on a monthly basis. Myself, I'm employed full time and don't have this option. Worse yet, I make more money than would qualify me to get legal aid assistance but not enough to pay a lawyer. Would really love some advice here on how to tackle this.

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Andrew J. Kania, LL.B., LL.M.
6 years ago

Answer: You raise multiple issues.

First, it may be possible to have your current separation agreement enforced through the Family Responsibility Office without having to go to Court to obtain an Order. I would need to see your signed Separation Agreement before determining whether this is possible for you. Obviously, this would save you money.

Second, the Family Responsibility Office is required to enforce all properly registered Court Orders and acceptable Separation Agreements. There is no “preference” for earlier Court Orders/Separation Agreements.

Third, the Family Responsibility Office will only enforce amounts from the date that the Court Order/Separation Agreement is registered with them. Thus, if there are arrears from the past, it is the support recipient’s obligation to enforce them. The Family Responsibility Office will not assist.

Fourth, the Family Responsibility Office is only one enforcement option. You can also seek a Judgment against him, and then seek to enforce it. This does mean Court.

Fifth, if your Separation Agreement is acceptable enough to register with the Family Responsibility Office our fee would not be significant.

Feel free to telephone me at (905) 451-3222 for a free consultation.

(The information provided above is general, not legal advice, as circumstances vary from case to case. Thus, if you wish legal advice that you can rely upon for your specific case, please contact Andrew Kania for a free consultation).

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