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A Default Hearing is a hearing in family court, before a judge. During a Default Hearing, you have to explain why you are behind in your payments. You may want to have a lawyer represent you, but you do not have to.

At the hearing, the judge will decide what you need to do. This is called a Default Order. The Default Order may require you to:

  • pay all or part of the money you owe through regular payments over time
  • pay all of the money you owe by a certain date
  • change your support order or domestic contract, or
  • go to jail for up to 180 days.

At a Default Hearing, the judge may also decide to make a Third Party Default Order. This is when the judge decides that you are using another person (a third party) to hide or shelter your income. This order will require the other person to pay the money you owe.

How to avoid having a Default Hearing

You can avoid having a Default Hearing by contacting us immediately to:

  • bring your payments up to date, or
  • make a voluntary payment plan.

If you receive a Notice of Default Hearing

Once you receive your Notice of Default Hearing, you have 10 days to take action.

Your Notice of Default Hearing will come with a:

  • Statement of Arrears
  • Default Dispute form, and
  • Financial statement form.

There are seven steps you need to follow:

Step 1 - Find out when and where your Default Hearing will be

Step 2 - Gather the information and forms you will need

Step 3 - Fill out the forms

Step 4 - Give copies of your forms to FRO before the deadline on the notice

Step 5 - File your forms with the court before the deadline on the notice

Step 6 - Go to court on your hearing date

Step 7 - Take the steps ordered by the court

For more information on these steps, read FRO’s Default Hearing Guide.


  • If you don’t file your forms with FRO or the court, you must still come to court on the date listed in your Notice of Default Hearing.
  • If you do not attend the hearing, the court could have you arrested. If you are arrested, you will be brought before a judge.
  • If you are not able to meet the terms of the Default Order because something has changed in your life, you can ask the court to change your Default Order. For example, you may have lost your job or become too ill to work and have no income. You may want to ask a lawyer for advice.

Learn more

How to contact FRO

How to find a lawyer

Read our publication: What should I do if I have received a Notice of Default Hearing?

For more information about a Motion to Change, see the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Self Help Guide for Motions to Change.