Separation and Divorce: Child Support
How is child support enforced?
An Ontario government office called the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) can enforce support payments. The court automatically files all support orders with the FRO. Separation agreements can also be filed there if they have been filed with the court. The FRO tells the payor parent to make all support payments to the FRO. When the FRO receives a payment, it sends a cheque to the other parent, or deposits the money directly into that parent's bank account.
If any payments are missed, the FRO takes action to enforce the order 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. The parent receiving support puts this information on a "Support Deduction Information Form" which is available at the court. This form is given to the FRO along with the support order or agreement. It is important to update this form whenever the information changes.
Sometimes parents receiving support withdraw from the FRO because it is easier to receive 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:
- have the payments automatically deducted 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, or
- 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 make their support payments by:
- suspending their driver's licence,
- reporting them to credit bureaus so that it will be difficult for them to get loans, or
- cancelling 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 you collect support.
The FRO cannot change the amount that the order or agreement says the payor parent has to pay. If either parent thinks that a change in the situation justifies a change in the support amount, they can try to get a new agreement 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