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What is the Family Responsibility Office and what does it do?

It is possible that residents of Ontario, who have not been through a divorce or split resulting in child support or spousal support will not be familiar with the Family Responsibility Office. A Ministry of Community and Social Services program, the office is charged with assisting in the collection, distribution and enforcement of court-ordered spousal and child support payments.

Specifically it gets the funds owed from the payor to the recipient. This means that if the payor fails to make the ordered payments the FRO will step in to recover the amount owed via an enforcement action.

The office, which has approximately 380,000 clients, was created as a part of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996. It is responsible for around 180,000 cases and accordingly, collects support payments totally around $650 million.

It is important to note that the FRO does not play a role in the actual determination of the amount of the support payments. Rather the office steps in following the determination of those payments. For assistance in making sure that the support payments established are fair, it most cases it is best to work with a lawyer who provides counsel on family law matters.

Likewise, the FRO does not assist parties seeking to change an already established order. Here again, either party hoping to change a spousal or child support order can seek assistance from a family law attorney. Such an individual can help determine whether there is in fact a basis for a change and if so, guide a party through the process of seeking a change.

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