Separation and Divorce: Child Support
How is child support enforced?
An Ontario government office called the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) can enforce support payments. This means that the FRO collects child support directly from the payor parent, keeps a record of the amounts paid, and then pays that amount to the other parent.
The court automatically files a support order with the FRO. And the Ministry of the Attorney General automatically files a Notice of Calculation with the FRO. Parents can also file a separation agreement with the FRO after either of them have filed the agreement with the court.
If a parent misses a payment, the FRO can take action to enforce the court order, Notice of Calculation, or agreement. To do this, the FRO needs up-to-date information about the payor parent. This includes their full name, address, social insurance number, place of employment or business, income, and any property they own.
Sometimes parents getting support withdraw from the FRO because it is easier to get payments directly from the other parent. But if there are problems later and they want to re-file with the FRO, they might have to pay a fee.
The FRO has different ways to collect unpaid support from the payor parent. It can:
- deduct the payments automatically from their wages or other income (for example: sales commissions, Employment Insurance, Workers' Compensation, income tax refunds, severance pay, and pensions)
- register a charge (a lien) against their personal property or real estate
- take money from (garnish) their bank account, or garnish up to half of a joint bank account that they have with someone else
- make an order against anyone who is helping them hide income or assets that should go toward support
The FRO can also put pressure on parents who do not pay. It can:
- suspend their driver's licence
- report them to credit bureaus so that it will be difficult for them to get loans
- cancel their passports
The FRO can help collect money from a payor parent who lives in Canada, the United States, or another country that Ontario has an agreement with. If Ontario does not have an agreement with the country where the payor parent lives, the FRO cannot help collect support.
The FRO cannot change the amount of child support that the payor parent has to pay. If either parent thinks the amount has to change because their situation has changed, they need to make a new agreement, apply to the Child Support Service for a "Notice of Recalculation", or go to court to try to get the support order changed.
To contact the Family Responsibility Office, visit their website at www.mcss.gov.on.ca/mcss/english and click on "Family Responsibility Office", or call:
Toronto area: 416-326-1818