ontario specific information but
similar services exist in other parts of canada
What is the Family Responsibility Office?
The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is part of Ontario’s Ministry of Community and Social Services. It is responsible for collecting and distributing child and spousal support orders. Where the person paying the support is not doing so, FRO can take steps to enforce payment.
How does FRO become involved?
Your support order – child, spousal or both – will be filed with FRO automatically. FRO will then contact both you and your ex-partner with a registration package, which you must complete and return.
If you and your ex-partner have signed a separation or arbitration agreement to deal with support issues, you must file the agreement with the family court and then send a copy to FRO, along with the Affidavit for Filing. Then FRO will send you a registration package so it can enforce the terms of the agreement.
If you do not want FRO to collect and distribute your support payments, you can withdraw your case and manage the situation on your own.
How does FRO collect support payments?
If your ex-partner is employed, FRO will arrange with his employer to have his child and/or spousal support deducted from his paycheque and sent to FRO, which will then deposit it in your bank account. This can take a bit of time at the beginning, but once it is set up, your support should arrive in your bank account on a regular basis.
If your ex-partner is not employed, FRO will make an arrangement with him so he pays FRO directly (usually through his bank account or by cheque or money order). FRO then deposits the support payment in your bank account.
What happens if your former partner does not pay his support?
FRO has a number of enforcement tools it can use if your former partner does not pay the support he is required to pay:
- Garnish his bank account.
- Garnish money he might receive from the government (e.g., tax refunds, EI benefits, CPP or OAS benefits).
- Report him to the credit bureau.
- Suspend his driver’s licence.
- Suspend his passport.
- Suspend any federal licences he might have.
- Place a lien on his property.
- Seize lottery winnings.
FRO can also take him to court for a Default Hearing, which could result in him receiving up to 180 days of jail time.
If your former partner has not made a support payment for at least six months and FRO has been unable to find him, it may post personal information about him on the Ontario.ca website to ask for the public’s help in finding him.
The website will contain information about your former partner such as his name, photograph, physical description, last known address, usual occupation and so on. FRO will get your consent before doing this.
Changing a support order
If you or your former partner wants to change your support order, one of you must go to family court and bring a Motion to Vary. Until the court has made a new order, FRO will continue to enforce the existing order.