The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) collects, distributes and enforces child and spousal support payments. It is an office under the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
FRO is mandated through the Family Responsibility and support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996 and the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, 2002. The first Act gives FRO the authority to enforce support orders, support deduction orders, and domestic contracts filed with the court. The second Act allows FRO to enforce child and spousal support payments when one party lives outside of Ontario, even outside Canada. FRO works with over 100 reciprocating jurisdictions.
If there are extraordinary expenses, the support order needs to set out special expenses (e.g., medical, child care, extracurricular expenses) in the support order either as a fixed amount, or as an expense which must be claimed on a sworn statement of arrears submitted by the support recipient. Otherwise, these expenses will not be enforceable by FRO.
FRO has the authority to enforce the support orders through the following actions:
- garnishing the payor’s bank accounts
- garnishing money the payor may be entitled to receive from the Government of Canada (for example, income tax refunds, employment insurance benefits, Canada Pension Plan benefits, and Old Age Security benefits)
- reporting the payor to the credit bureau
- suspending the payor’s driver’s licence
- suspending the payor’s Canadian passport or other federal licences (including a pilot’s licence, as well as maritime and navigational licences and certificates)
- placing a lien on the payor’s personal property
- issuing a writ of seizure and sale for property the payor owns
- reporting the payor to his or her professional or occupational organization(s)
- seizing the payor’s lottery winnings, and
- starting a Default Hearing, which could result in up to 180 days of jail time.
If the payor is the sole account holder, 100% of the money in the account may be taken to pay arrears.
If the payor is in another country while the passport is suspended, the payor needs to arrange the payment to FRO in order to lift the suspension.
If someone has not made a support payment in the last six months and FRO has exhausted all efforts in trying to locate that person, they may post personal information about that person on goodparentspay.com. Before FRO posts these parents’ information, FRO will need the consent of the payor recipient.
If the payor is falling behind in the support payment, the payor can also contact FRO to work out a repayment plan.
Getting support payment enforced is a long battle. The recipient should always have a back-up plan instead of solely relying on the enforcement of the support orders. If you require more information on how to obtain a support order or enforce one, please contact our experienced family lawyers at MEHDI AU LLP.
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