What is the Family Responsibility Office? What do they do?
The Family Responsibility Office collects, distributes, and enforces court-ordered child and spousal support payments. Click here to learn more about child support, and here to learn about spousal support. FRO is a division of the Ministry of Community and Social Services. In this post, Jeffrey Sun, Fresh Legal intern, answers some commonly asked questions about FRO.
How does FRO work?
FRO automatically registers all support orders sent to them by the courts. The support payor pays FRO, who then distributes the money to the support recipient. If support payments are not received, FRO can take enforcement actions (e.g., garnishing your wages, reporting you to your professional organization, suspending your passport). If you fail to pay and FRO cannot find you, they may publish your information online to garner public attention and assist in locating you.
What if the Payor Files for Bankruptcy?
Support obligations survive bankruptcy. If you are in bankruptcy, tell your trustee that you owe support arrears. FRO becomes a creditor with a claim against your estate. The FRO will negotiate with your bankruptcy trustee until your bankruptcy is over, at which time FRO will deal with you directly again.
What if I can't make my payments?
If you are unable to make payments for whatever reason, contact FRO as soon as possible to negotiate a voluntary payment plan. This will prevent them from taking enforcement action against you. If they are taking enforcement action, then to avoid the repercussions, you must contact them to arrange a voluntary payment plan.
What if One of the Parties Lives Outside of Ontario?
FRO has enforcement agreements in place with all Canadian and American jurisdictions, as well as almost thirty other countries. If one of the parties does not reside in Ontario, then FRO is empowered to enforce orders across jurisdictional boundaries.
What if I need to change my Court Order?
FRO cannot alter an existing court order. To accomplish a change, you must apply to the court for a variation of the order. If both parties agree to the change, you can file a Consent Motion to Change Child Support to get a new order. If the other party does not agree, you will need to file a Motion to Change, and a judge will decide whether to make a new order. Until FRO receives a new Order, they will continue to enforce the most recent Order.
Read More: When and How to Vary Child Support