Accounting for Law

The role of the Family Responsibility Office

By Usman Sadiq

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 (FRO) is an institution that facilitates and enforces the child and spousal support payments from the payor to recipient. However, the FRO does not involve itself with custody/access issues.

Registration process

While Ontario court orders are received by the FRO automatically, a separation agreement must be registered with the court if you would like the FRO to enforce it. Although the FRO operates in Ontario there are provisions in place should one party reside outside of Ontario. The FRO 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.

Enforcement action

While the majority of the cases the FRO deals with are met with compliance, payors sometimes fall behind on payments. If a payor falls into arrears they should contact the FRO immediately to establish a repayment plan. Payors who fail to contact the FRO are subject to one of several enforcement action consequences. Most often the FRO will file a garnishment with the Federal government allowing them to seize entitlements like income tax refunds, EI payments, etc. However, the FRO has the authority to garnish a payor’s bank account, suspend their driver’s license, or call a default hearing which may result in incarceration.

Communicating with the 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 the FRO in a timely manner. It is the payor’s duty to notify the 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 the 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 the FRO by filing a Notice of Withdrawal.

Read More at Simple Divorce Blog

To Read More Usman Sadiq Posts Click Here
Lawyer Directory
BridgePoint Financial Services (post to 5.31.19)Toronto Lawyers Association (post to 6.30.19)MKD International (post until Sept. 30/18)Feldstein Family Law (post until May 31/19)Legal Print & Copy Inc.VR Law/Victoria Romero (post until June 30/19)Shekter Dychtenberg LLPAchkar Law