How many times can a person get a refraining order to keep a driver’s license while not paying support as ordered? How long can it last?

child support payer who is about to loose driver's licence and claims to have no money

"Refraining Orders" are court orders that the Family Responsibility Office has to wait before taking away a support payor's driver's licence because that payor has not paid the support that the court has ordered.


Refraining Orders are governed by the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act.  There are very tight rules for Refraining Orders.  Here are some that apply to your question:

1. A support payor can only get a refraining order within 30 days of receiving the notice that his or her driver's licence will be suspended.  If the payor does not bring a motion within that 30 days, he or she cannot get a refraining order - section. 35(10).

2. Refraining Orders can only last six months - section. 35(19)(d) - the court can only extend that period by three months ONCE, except where the support payor has brought a motion to change support (here is a video about motions to change support) in which case, the court can extend the refraining order ONCE for six months - section 35(21).

3. In order to get a refraining order, the payor must bring a motion to change support and prove that he or she is not able to pay the support under the current order - section 35(20).

4. A support payor must file a financial statement (and all the required attachments for that financial statement including Notices of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency) with the motion seeking the refraining order to show the court that his or her financial circumstances justify the court allowing the support payor to keep his or her driver's licence - section 35(7).

5. The court can only make ONE refraining order per Notice that a Driver's Licence is going to be suspended - section 35(11).  If a support payor does not pay the arrears, or does not bring a motion to change and have the amount of support owing changed with the period allowed by the order (and one extension) then the FRO can proceed to suspend the support payor's driver's licence.  With the initial refraining order lasting up to six months, and one extension of up to six months, the support payor has up to one year to get a new support order by bringing a motion to change the original support order.

6. If the support payor is successful in getting a change to a support order, and then defaults under the new support order, then the FRO has to issue a new Notice that it is going to suspend the payor's driver's licence.  The support payor must then follow all the steps above again, including seeking another change to the support order.

7. Judge are not obligated to grant refraining orders when asked to do so.  If a support payor has been bad about paying support, or has not shown any real effort to pay the court ordered support, the judge may refuse to grant the refraining order, and the FRO will then suspend the driver’s licence.


For more information about how support payers get themselves into trouble in the first place, read this article.  


For more information about how child support works generally, watch this video or listen to this podcast.  


Learn about spousal support in this video and this podcast.


Self employed people can really get in trouble over support because their income for support can be much higher than their income on their tax return.  For more about that, listen to this podcast or read this page


All these issues regarding support, how it is enforced, and the court process used to obtain and change support orders are described in this $25 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law.


Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on KindleKobo Logo

However, if you are in trouble with support, your REALLY should speak to a good family law lawyer because the consequences can be quite severe.   You want a lawyer to give you the extra edge that is needed to get you of trouble.  To get in touch with Certified Specialist in Family Law, Toronto Divorce Lawyer, John Schuman, use the form below or call the number at the top of this page.  You can also use the form below to comment on this page.


If you found this article helpful, you are not alone.  Many people have trouble with child support and spousal support and the way the Family Responsibility Office and Ontario Family Courts enforce it.  Please share this page on your social network using the buttons at the bottom of the page so that the people in your social network can also learn how to get out of support trouble.



© John P. Schuman 2012-2015