The Family Responsibility Office
After a separation or divorce it is important that child support or spousal support that was ordered by a court or in a separation agreement are followed. The Family Responsibility Office, or FRO, is an institution that facilitates and enforces the child and spousal support payments from the payor to recipient. However,the Family Responsibility Office does not involve itself with custody/access issues.
While Ontario court orders are received by the Family Responsibility Office automatically, a Separation Agreement must be registered with the court if you would like the Family Responsibility Office to enforce it. Although FRO operates in Ontario there are provisions in place should one party reside outside of Ontario. The Family Responsibility Office has enforcement agreements with all provinces and territories, every state in the United States, and over thirty countries. If a support order is made in one of these locations it must be registered in an Ontario court to initiate enforcement.
Payments can be made in a number of ways including online banking, cheque, or money order. After receiving a payment FRO deposits the funds in the recipient’s bank account within 48 hours.
While the majority of the cases FRO deals with are met with compliance, payors sometimes fall behind on payments. If a payor falls into arrears they should contact FRO immediately to establish a repayment plan. Payors who fail to contact FRO are subject to one of several enforcement action consequences. Most often FRO will file a garnishment with the Federal Government allowing them to seize entitlements like income tax refunds, EI payments, etc. However, FRO has the authority to garnish a payors bank account, suspend their driver’s license, or call a default hearing which may result in incarceration.
Communicating with FRO
Even though your role as a spouse or partner ends upon separation and divorce, your role as a parent does not. As such, both payor and recipient have a responsibility to communicate with FRO in a timely manner. It is the payor’s duty to notify FRO regarding any change in circumstance including but not limited to falling into arrears, a change in income, or a change of contact information. Likewise, recipients are to notify FRO if they do not receive a payment in over thirty days, the payor pays them directly, or if their contact information changes. Should the parties agree to manage payments privately they can opt to withdraw their case from FRO by filing a Notice of Withdrawal.
For more information about the enforcement of support through the Family Responsibility Office, or about obtaining a divorce in Ontario, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer.
NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you are in need of legal advice relating to your particular situation it is highly recommended to consult with a lawyer.
Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments