Tips & Tricks- dealing with the Family Responsibility Office

Many family law clients and lawyers bemoan the lack of assistance provided by FRO in enforcing support orders.

As a recipient of support, what can you do to help yourself and assist the process?

Delays

There are significant delays between the time an order is issued and when FRO actually receives the order to start enforcing it. Make sure if you have an agreement for support to ask for several months worth of postdated cheques from the payor so that you’re not waiting around for money to start coming from FRO.

Don’t assume that FRO will have the time or inclination to track down a payor or their incomes sources. Given the number of cases an average FRO staffer is responsible for, you need to be proactive in making sure they have all necessary information about the payor. All information should be contained on the Support Deduction Order originally filed with the court, but make sure that information is still correct.

Changes to orders

FRO is not in charge of making or amending support orders. If you need to change a support order- for example, if a payor has lost their job- you need to go back to court to obtain a new order through a motion to change.

As a payor, you will continue to be liable for the support amounts in the original order (and any arrears), until you obtain a new order based on your current financial situation. It’s advisable, then, to file a motion to change with the court as soon as your financial situation changes.

Monitor the status of your case

FRO has a number of enforcement tools that private individuals don’t have access to, but they have to use them. If FRO is not actively pursuing enforcement in your case, for whatever reason, you may need to complain to the Ontario Ombudsman or your local MPP. For this, it’s best to have assembled a comprehensive ecord of all of your dealings with FRO.

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