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.
If there is a separation agreement dealing with child support, the parents can file their agreement with the FRO after filing it with the court. If there is a court order dealing with support, the court automatically files it with the FRO. If support is calculated using the online Child Support Service, the Ministry of the Attorney General automatically files the Notice of Calculation with the FRO.
If a parent misses a payment, the FRO can do things to enforce the agreement, court order, or Notice of Calculation. 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 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, or a lien, against their personal property or real estate
- take money from, or 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 is difficult for them to get loans
- cancel their passports
Sometimes the parent getting support withdraws 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 cannot change the amount of child support that the payor parent has to pay. If either parent thinks the amount has to change, they need to make a new agreement, apply to the online Child Support Service for a Notice of Recalculation, or go to court.
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: 416-326-1817