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Enforcement of Court Order

When a court order is made, it is assumed that both parties involved will abide by the terms outlined in the order. However, there may be times when one party fails to comply with the court order. This can be frustrating and stressful, particularly when it comes to family law matters such as child support, spousal support, and custody arrangements. In such cases, the party who has not complied with the court order may be subject to enforcement proceedings.

What is a Court Order?

Before delving into the enforcement process, it’s important to understand what a court order is. A court order is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of an agreement or decision made by a court. It can include matters such as child custodychild support, spousal support, property division, and other family law issues. Once a court order is made, both parties are required to follow the terms outlined in the order. Failure to do so can result in enforcement proceedings.

Steps in the Enforcement Process

Step 1: Attempt to Resolve the Issue Informally

Before seeking enforcement through the court system, it is advisable to try to resolve the issue informally. This could involve contacting the other party and reminding them of the terms of the court order or sending a demand letter outlining the specific terms of the order that have not been followed. This approach may be successful in resolving the issue without the need for court intervention.

Step 2: File a Motion to Enforce the Court Order

The next step is to file a motion to enforce the court order. Family lawyers can help you fill out the required court forms, such as a Notice of Motion, an Affidavit in Support of Motion, and a Certificate of Non-Compliance, and ensure they are filed with the court and served on the other party. The Affidavit in Support of Motion should detail the specific terms of the court order that have not been followed, and provide supporting evidence. It’s essential to seek the guidance of experienced family lawyers or divorce lawyers to ensure that the process is carried out effectively.

Step 3: Attend a Court Hearing

After the motion to enforce the court order has been filed and served, a court hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, both parties will have the chance to present their arguments and evidence to the judge. The judge will review the evidence presented and decide whether or not to enforce the court order. If the judge decides to enforce the court order, they may also require the non-compliant party to cover the other party’s legal costs. 

Step 4: Seek Enforcement of the Court Order

After the court has decided to enforce a court order, the next step is to seek enforcement. There are several options available for enforcing a court order, such as a Writ of Seizure and Sale, Garnishment, Contempt of Court, or License Suspension. However, it’s crucial to note that the enforcement proceedings can be time-consuming and expensive. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to try to negotiate a settlement.

Initiating a court action may be necessary in certain situations. If one spouse decides to start legal proceedings, the other spouse is obliged to participate in the proceedings. However, there are typically opportunities to resolve the matter outside of court through settlement negotiations, even after legal proceedings have commenced, prior to reaching the final stage of trial.

It is worth noting that enforcement proceedings can be lengthy and expensive, but the court process itself is not generally considered overly costly. Filing fees are applicable at the Superior Court of Justice and the Unified Court of Justice, but not at the Ontario Court of Justice. Additionally, parties are not required to pay for the judge’s time or the court’s time.

The main expense of a court action lies in legal fees, which involve the cost of retaining a Family lawyer to prepare relevant court documents, participate in court proceedings, and attend court hearings. In certain cases, it may be more cost-effective to explore the possibility of negotiating a settlement.

If you require guidance on family court procedures, TCZ lawyer Eric Zhao can be of assistance. The legal process can be lengthy and intricate, with unique facts and circumstances for each case. Depending on the specific issues and the position of the parties involved, some or all of these family court procedures may be necessary. Please feel free to contact us for more information.

Modifying a Court Order

In some cases, the court order may need to be modified. This is possible when there is a significant change in circumstances that affects the original order. For example, if the paying parent loses their job, they may be unable to continue paying the full amount of child support. Alternatively, if the receiving parent gets a job with a higher income, they may no longer require as much spousal support.

To modify a court order, the party seeking the change must file a motion to change with the court. This motion must be accompanied by evidence of the change in circumstances that justifies the modification. If the other party agrees to the change, they can sign a consent to change order. If they do not agree, the court will hold a hearing to decide whether to modify the original order.

Enforcement of Court Orders

Regrettably, in family law cases, it’s not uncommon for one party to fail to comply with a court order. In such situations, the other party may seek to enforce the order through legal means. It’s important to work with knowledgeable family law lawyer to ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.

Contempt Proceedings

Contempt proceedings are legal proceedings initiated by a party seeking to enforce a court order when the other party fails to comply with it. In the context of enforcement of a court order, contempt proceedings may be initiated when a party fails to comply with a court order directing them to perform a certain action, such as paying a debt, turning over property, or complying with a child custody or visitation order.

If the court finds that the disobedient party did, in fact, violate the court order, they may be held in contempt and face penalties, including fines or even imprisonment, until they comply with the court’s order.

Writ of Seizure and Sale

In cases where the non-compliant party owes a significant amount of money, the party seeking enforcement may obtain a writ of seizure and sale. This allows a sheriff or bailiff to seize and sell the non-compliant party’s assets to satisfy the debt owed.

To obtain a writ of seizure and sale, the party seeking enforcement must file a writ of seizure and sale with the court, including a comprehensive list of the assets they wish to seize. Once the writ is issued, the sheriff or bailiff will serve it on the non-compliant party and proceed with the seizure and sale of the assets listed in the writ. 


Garnishment is another way to enforce a court order. This involves deducting money directly from the non-compliant party’s wages or bank account to pay the debt owed.

To enforce a court order, the party seeking enforcement may consider garnishing wages or a bank account. To garnish wages, the party seeking enforcement must obtain a writ of seizure and sale and provide it to the non-compliant party’s employer, who will then remit the funds to the court. To garnish a bank account, the party seeking enforcement must obtain a garnishment summons from the court, and the non-compliant party’s bank will then freeze the account and remit the funds owed to the court.

While court orders are intended to resolve family law disputes, they are only effective if followed. In case of non-compliance, seeking legal options such as contempt proceedings, writs of seizure and sale, or garnishment, can be an effective way to ensure that the court’s orders are obeyed. If you are experiencing difficulty enforcing a court order related to property division, child custody, marriage contracts, separation agreement, or cohabitation agreements, TCZ Lawyer Eric Zhao can help you understand your legal rights and options and provide you with quality service to help resolve your case effectively.