Family Responsibility Office (FRO) & Default Hearings

An order for spousal and/or child support made in Ontario is enforced through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), unless the parties opt out of this process. If your circumstances have changed, and you can no longer afford to pay the amount of support you have been ordered to pay, you can ask the court to reduce your monthly payments.

What does FRO do in Ontario?

In Ontario, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) serves a vital function as part of the provincial government’s efforts to help families secure the financial support they are legally entitled to. FRO’s role encompasses the collection, enforcement, and distribution of both child and spousal support payments. By enforcing court-ordered support, FRO ensures families receive the necessary financial assistance, contributing significantly to the financial stability and security of those who rely on these funds. This robust system aims to uphold the rights of recipients and hold payor’s accountable, reinforcing the importance of familial responsibilities.

At Russell Alexander Family Lawyers, we provide help to individuals who can no longer afford to meet their monthly support obligations by asking the court to revisit their case and change their existing order for support. This is called a “motion to change.”

Unfortunately, individuals are often unaware of the fact that they may qualify to have their support obligations reduced by a court. In some cases, individuals will fall into arrears on their support obligations as a result, which can result in serious consequences, including the possibility of jail time.

Our firm often represents clients who have fallen into arrears on their payments with FRO. In these cases, we communicate with FRO on your behalf and attempt to negotiate a payment plan that is affordable to you. We also help clients who are facing having their driver’s license suspended by FRO.

What are default hearings in Ontario?

Default hearings in Ontario pertain to the family court system, specifically addressing situations where an individual has fallen behind on their court-ordered support payments. These hearings take place before a judge and require the individual in default to provide an explanation for their inability to keep up with the mandated payments. Legal representation is not mandatory at a default hearing, but it can be advantageous to have a lawyer present due to the complexities involved in these proceedings. Outcomes of such hearings can range from adjustment of payment plans to enforcement actions, always aiming to uphold the financial security and welfare of those dependent on the support payments. This process underlines the significance of court-ordered financial responsibilities and the importance of compliance with them.

Where a support payor has repeatedly failed to make their monthly support payment, FRO may initiate a Default Hearing. At this hearing, the court can order that if arrears are not paid in full, the support payor will be committed to jail time. Because these matters can result in serious consequences, and are often time-sensitive, you should immediately seek legal advice if you have fallen into arrears.