Divorce blog

How does child support enforcement in Ontario compare?

How does child support enforcement in Ontario compare?

Niren and Associates previously blogged about a new law (which came into effect on December 1st) that makes it possible for the cars of support payors who fall behind on their child support in Ontario to be impounded, which would in turn prevent the support payor from getting to work and making money to meet his or her monthly support obligations. This new enforcement method may appear to be counter-productive, but those who fail to pay child support in Ontario may not be the worst off.

In Australia, parents who fell behind on their child support payments will not be traveling for the holidays. According to Australian officials, those parents will be turned away at airports on the premise that if they have the money to travel, they should be able to make support payments. A similar rule went into effect in the country last year, and resulted in $3.3 million (Australian dollars) being paid right away.

Child support in Ontario vs. the United States

The state of Oklahoma recently arrested their “most wanted” person who has failed to pay child support – $63,000 over 11 years. Like the provinces of Ontario and Alberta, Oklahoma has an online public database of people who fail to pay child support that includes photos and biographical information and this database helped provide authorities with the location of this man. In Ohio, authorities have begun creating posters with information and photos of those who don’t pay child support, and these posters have even been posted on pizza boxes. What’s unique about these posters is that the amounts owed are right below the photos.

Sometimes, losing a job or a receiving reduction in pay can result in a change to your child support obligation. If you are having problems paying your child support in Ontario, speak to a family lawyer.

By heather – Last updated: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Filed in Child Support, Family Law Changes Ontario, Family Responsibility Office, Support Orders •
Wife to sue Ontario Family Responsibility Office for suicide of man who couldn’t pay child support
New Ontario child support enforcement is a Catch-22

The Government of Ontario has taken new steps to enforcing child support payments, namely the most recent: driver’s licenses can be suspended for not paying child support, and cars can now be impounded – removing the ability for payers to get to work at all to earn the money to make payments.

In late August, a London, Ontario man committed suicide by laying down on nearby train tracks. His common-law wife is planning on launching a lawsuit against the Ontario Family Responsibility Office, whom she holds responsible for his death.

The man’s ex-wife and mother of his two now-adult children (ages 18 and 21) owns a home, a car, and has a job, and the man had been paying child support since 1996. A truck driver, the man had recently become unemployed and missed two support payments, which began a downward spiral of events that prevented him from ever catching up.

License suspended for not paying child support

Work soon became available, but the man’s commercial license was suspended by the Ontario Family Responsibility Office, who demanded a $1,500 payment to reinstate the license. Without a license, he could not earn the money to get his license back and no negotiating with the Family Responsibility Office got him anywhere – not even when it was done on his behalf by an MPP or an ombudsman.

Eventually, he represented himself when the Family Responsibility Office took him to court and demanded $10,000 or almost 200 days in jail – both options that would severely impede his ability to get his license back and continue making child support payments – all for $4,000 in child support payments.

Facing child support payment problems in Ontario?

The Ontario Family Law system is notoriously slow to recognize changes in income for child support-paying parents. Now that the stakes are even higher and a missed payment can result in loss of income, consult a family lawyer to discuss your child support options.

By heather – Last updated: Monday, December 6, 2010
Filed in Child Support, Enforcement, Family Law Changes Ontario, Family Responsibility Office, Motion to Change, Support Orders, Variation •
New and exciting alternative dispute resolution for divorcing couples?
Alternative dispute resolution instead of going to court

An article appeared in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review recently that showcased a “unique” and “different” way to resolve divorce issues.

The method? Mediation or alternative dispute resolution. It’s actually not new and it’s not unique. It is however, gaining in popularity because it puts both spouses in the “driver’s seat” and helps to reduce the backlog in the Ontario Family Court system by diverting cases that would otherwise go to court because of disagreements between the spouses. In turn, it costs the divorcing couple less money than a heated and time-consuming court battle. It can be an ideal option for divorce in almost any case, with the only real exceptions being situations where domestic abuse is involved.

Alternative dispute resolution with an Ontario family lawyer

Another interesting point with the article was it profiled a business in London that offered mediation and alternative dispute resolution services from someone with a “background in finance” – not a family law professional. While divorce can involve complicated financial issues, it also involves aspects of Ontario family law: child custody, spousal support, division of assets, prior legally-binding arrangements like prenuptial agreements as well as the different issues that apply to common-law marriage. Who would you rather have dealing with your alternative dispute resolution?

By heather – Last updated: Monday, December 6, 2010
Filed in Alternative dispute resolution, Current trends, Divorce, Divorce Lawyer, Mediation •
Will Canadian Family Law Cover Polygamy Divorce?
Polygamy and Canadian Family Law

The polygamy trial in British Columbia has been garnering a lot of media attention.

Polygamy is illegal in Canada, but the law is rarely enforced in the province.

One side is arguing that polygamy puts women and children in danger because some religious organizations may force it, while the other side is arguing that polygamy between consenting adults should be recognized as religious freedom under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Will the polygamy ruling be an inclusive Canadian family law ruling?

If polygamy is decriminalized, it will bring up a lot of questions on how Canadian family law will deal with polygamous relationships upon separation. If there is a ruling that eventually decriminalizes polygamy, will it account for the breakup of a polygamous relationship?

How will assets be divided, particularly if one member of a polygamous relationship leaves while two remain? Would the member that left be able to get spousal or child support (which can be granted in some provinces under Canadian family laws for common law couples) if the remaining two are legally married to each other? If a polygamous triad with children were to breakup, Canadian family law should also be able to grant custody fairly among its members if all of them helped raise a child. Seeing as British Columbia is working on legislation that would allow a child to have more than two legal parents, that legislation may be applicable when ensuring fair and equal child custody for polygamous couples.

Hopefully, no matter what the ruling, consideration is given to developing legislation that would protect all parties involved in a breakup or divorce under Canadian family law.

By heather – Last updated: Sunday, November 28, 2010
Filed in Divorce, Polygamy, separation •
Insurance for couples who divorce in Ontario?
Insurance for divorce in Ontario

There is always wisdom in taking the extra step to protect yourself. Like a prenuptial agreement, divorce insurance is something couples in Ontario should consider – in case the relationship ends in divorce.

Divorce insurance recently became available in the United States through a company called SafeGuard Corp., where couples can purchase units of coverage to cover divorce costs such as finding a new home and fees. The insurance begins four years after it is taken out to prevent fraud, but there is protection in place for couples who don’t make it that long: they can get their premiums back if they sign a waiver and divorce before four years is up.

The US-based company compares divorce insurance to home insurance, where with home insurance there is a one in 300 chance someone will file a claim, yet it is deemed irresponsible not to have it. With divorce in Ontario at a rate of 38 per cent, there would be more than a one-in-three chance of someone filing a claim if it were available.

Prenuptial agreement vs. insurance during divorce in Ontario

While prenuptial agreements protect both spouses, one key difference with divorce insurance in Canada is that in rare cases a judge can ignore the prenuptial agreement but the divorce insurance is always there. Just recently, Canadian law school professor James Morton told the Vancouver Sun that he predicts divorce insurance will be soon “widely offered” in Canada and it may soon be a viable option for couples who divorce in Ontario.

By heather – Last updated: Sunday, November 28, 2010
Filed in Divorce, Marriage Contracts, Prenuptial Agreements •
Ontario Chief Justice expands on family law comments
Earlier this fall, Ontario Chief Justice Warren Winkler said that the Ontario Family Law system was desperately in need of an overhaul, and suggested that mediation become mandatory in divorce disputes before couples head to court.

In recent interview with Law Times magazine, Winkler expanded on these comments, saying that the main reason family law overhaul is so desperately needed is that family law rulings seriously affect the lives of whole families and mistakes can ruin lives, denying parents access to children and creating detrimental repercussions to family relationships.

He said that education and awareness on the family law process is necessary for couples to be successful during mediation, and that those involved need to desire a positive outcome for all parties or it won’t be successful as a solution.

The family court system is extremely strained, and wait times are already too long for heated divorce cases that really need to court system to be processed.

He added, “when we introduced mandatory mediation as part of the civil justice reform, it reduced the waiting time to trial by two-thirds. I’m confident it will reduce the inventory of family law cases and free up judges for trials and I’m sure it will be in the best interests of the parties by making the system better, cheaper and quicker.”

Other provinces are making progress in family law changes, with Alberta recently attempting to change the definition of parent in family law cases to allow for easier custody resolutions with parents who used assisted reproduction methods, and British Columbia attempting to change its family law system to catch up with modern times. However, no province has officially proposed a major family law system reform with regards to how cases go through the court system.

By heather – Last updated: Sunday, November 28, 2010
Filed in Divorce, Family Law Changes Ontario, Mediation •
Ontario parents who do not pay child support could be taking the bus this winter
A new law goes into effect on December 1st allowing for the removal of vehicles from people who commit certain offences. The punishment is expected for the majority of the offences, including driving with a suspended licence, driving with high blood-alcohol levels or not using court-mandated in-car breathalyzers.

However, people who fail to meet their child support obligations will now be treated the same as people driving while intoxicated: their car can be taken away.

While this punishment might make some people think twice about skipping a child support payment, there are sometimes legitimate reasons for falling behind. A divorced dads advocacy group founder commented in the National Post on the new law this week saying that, “There seems to be an idea that these parents don’t care or are hiding and they have all this money. It’s the exact opposite.”

In some cases the courts can be slow at recognizing changes in income or job situations, and parents might not be able to make those payments. As well, taking their car away can result in a chain reaction of not being able to get to work, not being able to make any money and not being able to make support payments.

Currently, a person who doesn’t pay their child support can have their licence suspended. As of December 1st, people who do not pay child support and have their licence suspended and are caught driving will lose their car for a week.

Another very important issue with this new law is that drivers are informed their licence is suspended by mail, meaning they could be driving while being completely unaware their licence is suspended and have their car taken; unable to get to work and make future payments.

Those who do not or cannot pay their child support may be in for a long, cold winter this year. If you have recently lost your job or have a reduced income, you may be facing problems in the future, and it would be wise to talk to a family lawyer.

By heather – Last updated: Saturday, November 13, 2010
Filed in Child Support, Enforcement, Provincial legislation, Support Orders •
Court ruling opens doors for common-law spousal support payments
A surprising court decision in Quebec has opened doors for common-law couples hoping to receive spousal support from their ex-common-law spouses upon separation.

The court ruled that Quebec law discriminates against common law couples by not entitling them to spousal support. The case in question involved a woman who was cohabitating with a multimillionaire. The couple had three children and the man was already paying $35,000 per month in child support.

In Ontario, spousal support for common-law couples may be available depending on certain circumstances, including whether there are children involved and how long the couple was living together. Quebec is the only Canadian province that does distinguish between married and common-law couples for spousal support reasons. Quebec is the common-law capital of Canada, and it makes sense for a landmark common-law marriage court decision to take place there, particularly as one in three couples are common law.

The Quebec Court of Appeal has given the government of Quebec one year to review its position on common-law spousal support.

By heather – Last updated: Saturday, November 13, 2010
Filed in Common Law Marriage, Spousal Support •
Process serving moves online in Ontario?
A judge in Ontario recently allowed a woman to serve her child’s father with a paternity action over Facebook, and has said that it would be wise for more people in the province to use more creative methods like online process serving.

The woman could not find the father’s address in order to have him served traditionally, but was