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Burke-Robertson LLP
441 MacLaren Street
Suite 200
Ottawa, ON K2P 2H3

Phone: 613-706-0020
Toll free: 1-800-419-5581
Fax: 613-235-4430
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How is support enforced in Ontario?

In Ontario, child support is usually determined according to the Child Support Guidelines, which can be found online. (To see our blog on child support that varies from the Guideline amount click here).
Similarly, spouses may have the right to receive support payments for some period of time after a separation. Our blog on the variables that go into a spousal support calculation is here. In the vast majority of cases, parents and spouses recognize their obligations and support is paid on time and in full by cheque or bank transfer. Sometimes, unfortunately, it can be difficult to get payors paying. 

Family Responsibility Office

In cases where the parent with the obligation to pay support is not doing so, Ontario has an enforcement mechanism: the Family Responsibility Office, or FRO. Once there is an order or agreement with an obligation to pay support, FRO can garnish wages, garnish bank accounts, suspend licences and passports, report the payor to his or her employer, place a lien on property, seize and sell property, and even seize lottery winnings, all to ensure that the recipient receives his or her payments on time and in full. FRO also minimizes the need for the parties to interact directly, which can be valuable even where support payments have been made without issue.
FRO receives funding from the provincial government, and there are concerns that the agency is underfunded. Caseloads for FRO's employees can be substantial, and despite the enforcement mechanisms available, support orders continue to go unpaid. CBC recently reported on the problems FRO has enforcing orders against these so-called "deadbeats."

Not Perfect

No system is perfect, and there are factors that can make enforcement more or less complex. It is important to have a current order or agreement in place outlining your obligation or entitlement to child or spousal support, and to be diligent about taking steps to enforce it if necessary. FRO will only enforce an order or agreement, and having the most current numbers available will help the agency to determine arrears and entitlement moving forward.

- Jenny

Remember, everyone's situation is unique. The blogs posted on this site are informational. They are not intended to be taken as legal advice for your situation. It is always a good idea to seek professional legal advice before making any decisions related to your particular case.

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