Canada: After The Family Court Changes A Final Order, Is The Original Order Still Enforceable?

Last Updated: September 9 2019
Article by John Schuman

Family Law is all about changing family dynamics. Families do not stop changing just because a court makes a final order. Parenting arrangements and child support are particularly prone to changes because children's lives change as they get older and child support is centered around parents' incomes, which can vary each year. Consequently, there is a simpler court process to change most Family Court Orders and an online child support recalculation service that is available to many parents to adjust Child Support Orders.

The entire procedure pertaining to changing an order, is based on the premise that almost all of the issues related to the separation have been addressed in the original final court order. The court process is significantly shorter because the Family Court judge is only making minor adjustments to reflect how the family has changed since the original order. In addition, since decisions and settlements on issues such a property division are not affected by on-going changes to the family, these orders can be very difficult to change.

When a judge changes a Family Court Final Order, he or she only changes elements that must be revisited because of a change in the family's circumstances. If the circumstances have not changed to warrant modification of the Family Court Final Order, then the judge will leave things the way they were initially. Moreover, the new Order will specify precisely which paragraphs of the original Order the new Order is changing. The remainder of the Final Order remains in effect and the parties can enforce the terms already established. That being said, one change a judge can make is to "terminate" a particular term of an Order, such as a requirement that one party pay support to the other. If a Court "terminates" a term of a previous Order, than those terms are "dead" and neither party can enforce them.

Until a judge has specifically changed or terminated a term of a Final Order, that term remains in full force and effect.

On the contrary, Temporary Orders are slightly different. The purpose of a Temporary Order is to address issues between separated spouses or parents until their matter goes to trial or is settled on a final basis. Once the case has concluded, Temporary Orders are no longer needed. Final Orders have the effect of terminating all Temporary Orders. Once a Final Order is in effect, any outstanding Temporary Orders are no longer enforceable – unless the Final Order states that specific terms of a Temporary Order continue to be in effect.

If you need to enforce a Court Order, then it is likely that one party is not adhering to the terms. The best way to protect yourself, your children and your financial security, is to find out how the law applies specifically to your situation and what steps you should take moving forward.

If you need assistance with family separation, contact certified family law specialist, John Schuman of Devry Smith Frank LLP. John has extensive experience in assisting clients with difficult legal issues, such as enforcement of Court Orders, or the difficult situations that lead to ultimately attaining a Court Order. Contact him directly at 416-446-586 or email john.schuman@devrylaw.ca

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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