Get Child Support If Your Ex Leaves Ontario

You can’t get blood from a stone, but you could get child support from an ex who flees Ontario for another province. Or even country.

Running in a beach

Moving and Your Children’s Best Interests

Houdini was a master of escaping from tight spots. Your ex, not so much. Just like life, child support goes on and on. True hardship aside, not much can deter Ontario family court from pursuing your ex wherever they go (well, almost).

Child Support is Universal for Ontario Parents

Canada’s Divorce Act is universal. So-called reciprocity arrangements allow you to collect child support payments anywhere in Canada. You can make or vary a child support order in Ontario and have it enforced in any province or territory where your ex lives.

How Interprovincial Child Support Orders Work

Federal laws on divorce and family support are supposed to protect you from being left to raise your children on your own. Parenting is a shared financial responsibility. So while your ex can run, they can’t hide from paying a support order. The federal government helps track down reluctant parents through records like income tax forms, CPP payments or EI deductions.

Nine Ways Your Ex Can Be Forced to Pay Child Support

If your ex refuses to pay, provincial or territorial courts can:

  • take your spouse’s wages or tax refunds
  • garnish bank accounts (up to 50% of a joint account)
  • deduct payments from sales commissions or severance
  • withhold part of their EI or CPP
  • take out a lien against real estate or other property
  • suspend your spouse’s driver’s licence
  • cancel their passport
  • report them to credit bureaus
  • prevent others from helping hide your spouse’s income or assets.

What “Full Faith and Credit” Means

Other provinces and territories give your Ontario child support order full faith and credit. They accept that an Ontario family court made the order in good faith. You don’t need to worry that your child support arrangements won’t be enforced. The support order has the same effect as if it was made by a court where your spouse lives.

Varying an Ontario Child Support Order

Of course, your ex can always vary a child support order. By consenting, you agree to live with whatever a family court in their province or territory decides. You can attend court in person, send an affidavit, video conference with the judge or phone into the hearing. Your spouse can also ask the court to change the order without informing you. Rest assured the provisional order will be sent to Ontario family court to make the final decision. 

A newborn and a mom

Using the Ontario Family Responsibility Office 

You don’t have to pursue your ex on your own. The FRO will do that for you. You provide your spouse’s personal and contact information, including any assets they own. The FRO informs you when it collects payments so your records are always up to date. It takes the struggle out of communicating with the ex.

Collecting Child Support From an Out of Country Ex-Spouse

The FRO can follow your former spouse around Canada or around the world, anywhere that has a reciprocity agreement. The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, 2002 (ISO Act) includes the U.S. and about 30 other countries. Axess Law’s family lawyers can give you legal advice on obtaining child support elsewhere. Hiring a private investigator to locate your ex may be your best bet for getting information you need to press your point. You may not always be successful, but it’s worth a try. 

Provisional Orders Outside Canada

Just as any province or territory can grant a provisional order to make or change your child support arrangements, some foreign countries can too. The order has no legal effect until an Ontario court confirms it. Expect provisional orders from:

  • the United Kingdom
  • New Zealand
  • Germany
  • Cayman Islands
  • Hong Kong.

Enforce a Child Support Order From Abroad

If you have moved abroad and your spouse is in Ontario, ask a court in your own country to make a foreign child support order. That order can be sent to Ontario to enforce.

Getting Child Support from a U.S. Spouse 

Your chances of collecting don’t have to go south with your spouse. Ontario has reciprocity arrangements with every U.S. state and territory through the Office of Child Support Enforcement in Washington, DC. Your court order may still be challenged, but the FRO or Axess Law’s Ontario family lawyers can advise you on that.

How Complicated It Can Get

It’s complicated if you:

  • got divorced in another country
  • lived common law
  • had children but didn’t live together
  • separated but did not divorce
  • left your spouse off the birth certificate
  • need to prove paternity.

Ask us what to do next.

A lawyer

Practical, Affordable Divorce Advice for Ontario Families

Axess Law Ontario virtual lawyers give you legal advice about changing prenuptial agreements. Virtual family lawyers are available by video conference 7 days a week, at times that fit your schedule. Day or evening appointments arranged by dialing toll-free to 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or using our online booking form. In person appointments with licensed Ontario lawyers are available at our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law offices.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s family law services.