Caution: This page contains ONLY GENERAL LEGAL INFORMATION.
It is NOT LEGAL ADVICE nor a replacement for talking to a lawyer
and getting legal advice about your case.
The law can be complicated and the details of a case can be even more complicated!
There are exceptions for every rule.
What you do not know can harm you. Do not rely on general legal information.
AT YOUR OWN RISK.
WHERE PARTY OUT OF PROVINCE
How Do You Apply For Support from Someone Outside of Ontario?
Traditionally, there were difficulties enforcing child and spousal support orders outside the jurisdiction (e.g. Ontario) where the order was made . Arrangements, to deal with this problem between, were made the governments of the provinces and territories in Canada. A number of countries (including most of the countries in "the West") entered into the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. These arrangements resulted in the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act ("ISO Act") in Ontario .
This law applies if the other party resides in a "reciprocating jurisdiction" - another province / territory in Canada or one of the countries who have signed on to the treaty. It is used to make:
new orders for child / spousal support
changing to an existing order that was made under ISO or by a court in either Ontario or the other jurisdiction
A person in the other jurisdiction can also use this process in situations when you live in Ontario.
The ISO Act also means that orders from a reciprocating jurisdiction are enforced in Ontario. The Family Responsibility Office ("FRO") [see the article] enforces these orders in the same why they enforce Ontario orders.
What is the ISO Process?
The normal Ontario court forms are not used. Instead, forms under the ISO Act are used.
After completion and signing before a notary, the forms are sent to a "Central Authority" in Ontario. The Central Authority sends the documents to the Central Authority in the other jurisdiction. That Central Authority sends the documents to the court in the area the other party reside. The court in the other party's location makes the decision based on the papers sent to them and any responding documents from the other party.
For some countries, a "provisional" order must be made in Ontario and "confirmed" in the other jurisdiction. Quebec, who still is in the process of implementing the ISO arrangements, has special rules.
Which Laws Apply?
Laws about child and spousal support can vary greatly between countries. This can have dramatic effects on the outcome. The question can be who's law applies to different claims for relief. This can be very complicated.
Can You Proceed in an Ontario Court Instead?
The ISO Act does not prevent a person from seeking an order in an Ontario court, rather than using the ISO procedure. However, this may make the resulting order unenforceable in jurisdictions outside Ontario. The other jurisdictions may continue to enforce the old order, without regard for the new Ontario Order.
However if the other party is not in a reciprocating jurisdiction, the ISO Act does not apply and you have some options:
bring a claim in the other jurisdiction (if their law allows), or
obtain an order in an Ontario court then take it to the court in the other jurisdiction to try to have it enforced (if their law allows)
This likely requires legal advice from a lawyer practicing in the other jurisdiction to learn how they deal with support and foreign support orders.
What Can Be Done if the Other Jurisdiction Will Not Enforce?
Even if the other jurisdiction will not enforce a support order made in Ontario, you may be able to apply pressure on a payor from Canada. For example, if the payor:
has income from a Canadian source (or a reciprocating jurisdiction) - for example, a pension or an employer where support will be enforced
has assets in Canada (or a reciprocating jurisdiction)
wants to return to Canada
relies on a Canadian passport to travel or for legal right to remain in the jurisdiction where they live
Do You Need A Lawyer?
Clearly, you need some good legal advice.
You may be able to complete the ISO forms yourself (especially if the case is simple). However, it can be tricky because:
the rules and laws can be difficult because you are dealing with two jurisdictions
the judge making the decision will only see what you have in the forms - you will have no opportunity to talk to the judge - you need to put your best case forward from the start