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What is the Ontario government doing to collect unpaid support?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

MPP Sandra Pupatello, the new Minister for Community and Social Services, is scheduled to announce today (February 6, 2004) her plan to crackdown on deadbeat parents who do not pay their support.

The Ministry for Community and Social Services operates the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) whose mandate is to ensure that support payments flow properly from payors (people who make the support payments) to recipients (people who receive the support payments). The Family Responsibility Office receives every support order made by a court in Ontario and enforces the amounts owed under the order. It also enforces private written agreements that include child or spousal support terms. Private written agreements can include separation agreements, other domestic contracts and paternity agreements. These types of agreements must first be filed with the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice (Family Court), or their predecessor courts before they can be enforced by FRO.

The Family Responsibility Office has the legal authority to collect support payments and arrears and to take the following enforcement actions against those who do not meet their responsibilities:

  • collecting funds from federal sources (such as income tax refunds and employment insurance benefits)
  • reporting the payor to the credit bureau
  • seizing the payor’s bank account or assets
  • suspending the payor’s passport
  • seizing lottery winnings
  • suspending the payor’s driver’s licence
  • taking the payor to court

The new measures are to include:

  • up to $40 million on a new case-management computer system
  • special teams dedicated solely to tracking down deadbeat parents and finding a way to get them to pay the money they owe
  • providing parents owed support with Internet access to their file
  • providing parents with a toll-free telephone number and to separate urgent calls from non-urgent calls – with the intention of alleviating the long waiting periods
  • efforts to form alliances with credit card companies for access to information to track down deadbeats parents

Time will tell to see if the Ontario government acts on its promises to collect the $1.2 billion in monies owing for child support in Ontario.

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.