Going through a separation or divorce from your spouse can be a mentally, emotionally, and financially challenging time. For many people, financial security drops away, and you are left with limited options to help you and your child with your expenses.

In such situations, the Family Responsibility Office can ensure you get the support you need to maintain your standard of living.

If you want to know more about navigating your financial life after separation or divorce, here is everything you must know.

What is the Family Responsibility Office in Ontario?

An answer post explaining what is the Family Responsibility Office

The Family Responsibility Office is a program by the Ontario Government to help families receive support when they are trying to enforce, collect, or distribute child and spousal support payments.

For example, if your ex-spouse is not making the support payments, then you can ask the FRO to enforce payments. However, FRO’s role extends beyond just enforcing support payments on individuals.

How Does the FRO Work?

In Ontario, when the court orders an individual to make support payments, the support order is automatically filed with the FRO. The FRO’s responsibility is to ensure the financial security of families who depend on such support payments.

So, the Family Responsibility Office:

  • Collects the payments from the payor (who pays the support)
  • Send payments to the person who is entitled to receive them (known as the recipient)

They are authorized to do this under the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act of 1996 and the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act of 2002.

Please note that the Family Responsibility Office doesn’t pay on behalf of the payor, and it cannot change the support amount or the terms of your order. It also can’t get involved if you are facing challenges with child custody or access issues.

How Does FRO Collect Child and Spousal Support Payments?

An infographic answering how the FRO collects support payments

The Family Responsibility Office has a solid system in place to ensure they can collect payments from the payor. For example, if your ex-spouse is employed, then the FRO will have an arrangement with the employer to deduct support payments from the paycheque and send it to the FRO.

Then, the FRO will deposit this money into your bank account. Please note that after your separation or divorce, your employer will need some time to set up support deductions.

Until this happens, we recommend that you send the payments to the FRO yourself. This will guarantee that no payments are missed and that the process goes smoothly.

On the other hand, if you are unemployed, self-employed, or not on a stable and regular payroll, you must make these payments independently.

How to Pay the FRO on Your Own if You Are Self-Employed

An infographic on how you can pay the FRO if you are self-employed

If you are self-employed, then you have a few ways to pay the Family Responsibility Office yourself. Here are the top methods you can follow:

1. PAD (Pre-Authorized Debit) from Your Bank Account

The FRO has a pre-authorized debit application that you can fill out and send to them to make pre-authorized support payments.

You can either upload the form to the Family Responsibility Office’s online service or mail it to them at their address.

2. Paying Through the Bank

Another option is to make your payments through the bank. The Family Responsibility Office is registered with most credit unions and banks.

You can easily pay through this method online, in cash, or through telephone payments. If you want to make support payments through online banking, here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Log into the bank application or website
  2. Find the section where you pay your bills
  3. Add the FRO as your payee
  4. In the part where you have to add the account number, you must add your case number with the FRO that will begin with 0 or 1

On the other hand, if you want to pay the FRO through telephone banking, you must call your bank. You can let them know your case number with the FRO so they can help you.

Finally, if you want to pay in cash, you must go to the bank and make the payment yourself. You must let the bank know you want to make the payment to the Family Responsibility Office and provide them with your case number.

Be sure to get the receipt and keep it with you.

3. Money Order or Cheque

You can easily place your money order or cheque payable to the Director, Family Responsibility Office, and mail it to their location. Be sure to include the case number and your full name on your payments.

If you don’t add the case number, then the FRO will not be able to process your payments, and you might be at risk as they will use various methods to enforce the support payments on you.

4. Alternative Payment Methods

There are also alternative payment methods that can be applicable in your specific case. These are made by a judge in rare circumstances.

If you want to ask the court to create an alternative payment order for you, then you must fill the alternative payment order form before your court fate.

If you have a lawyer, they will complete the form based on what the judge has ordered. However, if you don’t, then the court clerk can fill out the rest of the form for you.

How Can the FRO Help if Your Spouse Refuses to Pay Support Payments?

One of the primary responsibilities of the Family Responsibility Office is to ensure that the payor makes the support payments on time. Most people pay for their support willingly and on time.

However, there can be cases when people can fall behind on their responsibilities. If this is the case with you, then we recommend you contact the FRO as soon as possible.

If the payor still fails to make support payments, then here are certain actions that the FRO can take to enforce support payments:

  1. By garnishing bank or joint accounts: The FRO can garnish your bank account, which means they can ask the bank for the money you owe to send it from your bank account. They can also do this if you have a joint account, but the co-holder will be first notified.


  1. Reporting the payor to the credit bureau: The Family Responsibility Office can also report the payor to the credit bureau. Doing this can make it challenging for the payor to get employment, loans, or other lines of credit.


  1. Deducting support from Federal Government payments: The FRO can also ensure that the Government of Canada deducts any outstanding support from the money It owes to you and send it to the FRO instead.


  1. Suspending driver’s license: If you fail to make your support payments, then the FRO can also suspend your driver’s license. On the other hand, police can also impound the vehicle you are driving, even if you are not the owner.


  1. Suspension of federal licenses: The Family Responsibility Office can also work with the Government of Canada to suspend your federal licenses. These can include your pilot’s license, passport, or your navigational or maritime licenses and certifications.


  1. Putting a lien on your property: The FRO can put a lien on properties you own, such as a vehicle or home, for the total arrears you owe. They do this under the Personal Property Security Act.


  1. Filing a writ of sale or seizure against your assets: The Family Responsibility Office can also file a writ against the sale or seizure of your assets. If you attempt to sell or refinance an asset you own, this document will require you to utilize the profits to pay for the support payments.


  1. Reporting you to any professional organizations you belong to: The FRO can also report you to any professional or occupational organizations you belong to if you haven’t paid the support in three months.


  1. Seizing winnings from the lottery: If you have won the lottery, then the FRO can also seize these winnings.


  1. Notifying you of default hearings: Finally, the FRO can also send you a notice of default hearing. In this hearing, you will have to stand before a family court judge and explain why you have failed to meet your support obligations.

These are the top ten ways the Family Responsibility Office can enforce support payments on the payor. If you are the recipient, you can contact the FRO to help you enforce support payments.

On the other hand, if you are the payor and you have not made your payments, we recommend you contact the FRO and let them know the reasons or make the payment to them as soon as possible.

Ways to Seek Support from FRO Ontario

An infographic on the three ways to seek support from the FRO

There are also various ways you can seek support from the Family Responsibility Office if you need more help. These include the following:

Attend Information Sessions

The Family Responsibility Office conducts various information sessions that are there to offer guidance. These sessions also respond to the questions people frequently ask when going through family law matters.

Experienced FRO staff lead these sessions and provide you with all the information you require. These sessions can cover topics such as:

  • Enforcement methods used by the FRO on the payor
  • How you can effectively communicate with their office
  • What help the FRO can offer you in family law matters
  • And much more

If you don’t know where to begin your family law case, we recommend you get in touch with our family lawyer in Ontario or contact the FRO.

Familiarize Yourself with Online Resources

The FRO has various online resources to help you. These include their website, guides, resources, and forms.

We recommend you begin your journey by going on their website and checking if the resources are helpful for your case. The forms are downloadable and there are also directions on how you can fill them accurately to help you understand the requirements of the FRO.

Get a Professional Family Lawyer

Finally, there is only so much that the FRO can do. It is a government organization, and there can be delays in what you require help with.

This is why we recommend you opt for a professional family lawyer in Scarborough who will provide you with insight into family law matters. Then, you can take appropriate action and relax as the lawyer takes charge of your case.

Important Information About the FRO

Important information about the FRO includes their contact details, payment charts, forms, and much more. We have also compiled this information in our guide to help you find everything about the FRO in one place.

Here is everything important that will help you while contacting the Family Responsibility office even better:

1. Family Responsibility Office Payment Chart for Arrears

While you can fulfill your responsibility most of the time, there might be times when you may have trouble doing that. If that is the case, we recommend you get in touch with the FRO as soon as possible.

The FRO can work with you to figure out a voluntary payment plan, which is also known as the voluntary arrears payment schedule. For this, you will need to complete two forms, which include the following:

If you don’t meet any of your support responsibilities, and you don’t contact them for the Family Responsibility office Payment Chart, then they can take enforcement actions we discussed above to ensure you meet your support obligations on time.

2. Family Responsibility Office Forms

There are various Family Responsibility Office forms you will have to fill out to get your work started. Here is a list of FRO forms you may have to fill out, depending on the case you are taking:

These are some of the top Family Responsibility Office forms you might have to fill out, depending on your situation.

If you are confused about which forms are applicable to your situation, you can get in touch with our family lawyer to help guide you about the process.

3. Family Responsibility Office Phone Number and Contact Details

The Family Responsibility Office phone number is +1 416-326-1818. Other contact details of the FRO include the following:

  • Address: 125 Sir William Hearst Ave, Toronto, ON M3M 0B5, Canada
  • Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm. It is closed on the weekends

If you want to get in touch with the Family Responsibility Office, you can use any of these ways to do so. Here is a more detailed informative guide to help you with the FRO phone numbers, addresses, numbers, and much more.

4. FRO Online

FRO Online is a portal by the Government of Canada that helps clients manage child and spousal support cases. You can access it from these links, and the portal will enable you to:

  • View your case details
  • Make support payments
  • Update your personal contact information if it has changed
  • Submit any documentation you require to the FRO

You will have to register with the FRO before you can access this portal. Once you have to deal with the FRO for your family matters, you can easily register with them and use this portal for any queries you may have.

Top 4 Challenges You Might Face When Dealing with the FRO

An infographic on the challenges faced when dealing with the FRO


It is not so easy dealing with the Family Responsibility Office in Ontario. There are many challenges that come with it, which include the following:

1. Denial of Support Payments in the Past

The FRO is constantly subject to many complaints from families throughout the province. The Ombudsman Report also suggests that between 2014 and 2015, more than 500 people were denied support payments of more than $1 million because of errors made by the FRO.

In some cases there was negligence while in others, the staff did not interpret the laws that were applicable accurately. Because of this, many people were denied their right to support payments.

2. Tardy Nature of FRO’s Helpline

In a 2010 report by the Ontario Auditor General, 80% of telephone calls received by the FRO are not answered. Because of this, people that require help timely do not get it.

Most calls don’t get through or they are terminated before they even get to the officer assigned to the relevant case.

3. Only Works on Low Caseload Percentage Each Year

The same report we stated in the last point also found that the Family Responsibility Office only works on a caseload of 20 and 25% of their total caseload each year.

There are many outstanding cases that need to be closed or taken into account. Many people also state that their case has been open for a year or two without any action.

The report also stated that it takes the FRO at least four months to get started on enforcement in ongoing cases, delaying payments each year.

4. Overbilling Parents

A report by the Ottawa Citizen also states that the Family Responsibility Office has admitted to overbilling various parents for child support payments. Over $5 million was wrongly collected from the parents.

There are many other such complaints against the Family Responsibility Office, and these issues have persisted for a long time.

How to Navigate Challenges Posed by the Family Responsibility Office

A good option to navigate the challenges posed by the FRO is to hire a family lawyer in Ontario. They will file all the appropriate forms and deal with the FRO to help get your issue sorted as soon as possible.

Our family lawyer in Scarborough will guarantee that all tour documents are filed accurately and you don’t face issues with the FRO regarding support payments. For more information, you can get in touch with us.


How do I contact the Ontario Family Responsibility Office?

You can contact the Family Responsibility office by phone number or email. If you need urgent assistance, you can also visit the office in person.

How long is a parent legally responsible for a child in Ontario?

A parent is legally responsible for a child in Ontario until the child turns 18. In some cases, it can also be longer due to circumstances such as a medical condition, illness, etc.

What happens if a father doesn’t pay child support in Ontario?

If the father doesn’t pay child support in Ontario, then the court can enforce child support in the court. You can also get in touch with a family lawyer to weigh your options.

How does FRO work in Ontario?

FRO works by collecting, distributing, and enforcing child and spousal support payments. Their primary aim is to ensure the financial security of families who rely on support payments,

Final Thoughts

The Family Responsibility Office plays an important role when couples are separating or getting divorced. However, dealing with them can be challenging as they have been subject to various complaints.

If you seek help, we recommend you contact Athena Narsingh, a trusted family lawyer in Scarborough, to determine your legal options.

Author Profile

Athena Narsingh
Athena Narsingh
Athena Narsingh is a trusted and knowledgeable lawyer in Scarborough. Her expertise spans real estate law, family law, adoptions and fertility law. A lawyer by profession and a humanitarian by heart, Athena Narsingh wants to help people become more familiar with the legal system and be well-informed to make important legal decisions.