The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is a government agency that enforces child support and spousal support. The FRO enforces child support payments in a:
- court order
- separation agreement that is filed with the court and registered with the FRO for enforcement
- Notice of Calculation filed by the government
If you miss payments, one of the things the FRO can do is ask the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to suspend your driver’s licence.
If you're caught driving with a suspended license, the police can impound your car for 7 days. There may be other penalties as well.
The FRO will mail you a document called a First Notice of Driver’s Licence Suspension. Your driver's licence will be suspended 30 days after the date in the notice. To stop this, you must:
- Contact the FRO and pay all arrears. This means you bring your payments up to date by paying what you owe.
- Contact the FRO and make a voluntary payment plan where you agree to a payment schedule you can afford. The FRO usually requires that you make your monthly support payments plus an additional amount toward the support owing.
- Go to court within 30 days and ask that your driver’s licence not be suspended. This is called getting a refraining order.
You may decide to get a refraining order because:
- You cannot reach a payment agreement with the FRO.
- You believe that the amount of support you pay should be changed.
- You have already applied to change the amount of support you pay.
You must usually go to the same level of court that made your support order or has your separation agreement filed with it.
There are three courts that deal with family law issues in Ontario. These are the:
- Ontario Court of Justice
- Superior Court of Justice
- Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice
So, if the Superior Court of Justice made the order, you go back to a Superior Court of Justice in the jurisdiction that your child currently lives to change it.
You need to fill out:
- Form 14: Notice of Motion, where you to tell the judge that you want a refraining order.
- Form 14A: Affidavit, where you give reasons for needing your driver's licence, information on your financial ability to make support payments, the payments that have been made, and your evidence. Make sure you give truthful, clear, and specific reasons. An Affidavit must be sworn or affirmed. This means you are promising that the information in the document is true. It is against the law to not tell the truth when you swear or affirm your Affidavit.
- Form 13: Financial Statement, that gives information about your finances such as the amount of your income, living expenses, and assets and debts.
You can get family law court forms from the courthouse or online. They are available in French and English.
You also need the following supporting documents:
- a copy of your First Notice of Driver's Licence Suspension
- a copy of your support order
- your FRO case number (found on the First Notice)
- your court file number (found on the support order)
- two pieces of identification, including valid photo identification such as a driver's licence, passport, or photo health card
- proof of income over the last three years including all years where support was not being paid in full
Once you have filled out your forms, you must call or go to the courthouse to get a date for your motion. This date must be before deadline date on your First Notice. Write this date down on the Notice of Motion.
You must serve the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) at least four days before your motion date. If you have less than four days, make sure you serve them as soon as possible.
This means you have to give a copy of your documents to the FRO so that they know about your court date and the evidence you will be using at court. There is a guide on how to serve documents.
You can do this by fax, mail, or delivery:
Mail or delivery:
Legal Services Branch
Family Responsibility Office
Ministry of Community and Social Services
1201 Wilson Avenue
Building B, 7th Floor
Downsview ON M3M 1J8
After you serve your forms on the FRO, you must fill out a Form 6B: Affidavit of Service. This form tells the court that you gave the FRO a copy of your documents. It must be filed with the court. There is a guide on how to file documents.
An Affidavit must be sworn or affirmed. This means you are promising that the information in the document is true. It is against the law to not tell the truth when you swear or affirm your Affidavit.
After you serve the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), take your original documents to the courthouse and file them. You file your documents at the court counter with the help of the court clerk. There is a guide on how to file documents.
You must file your documents at least four days before your court date. If you have less than four days, make sure you file your documents as soon as possible.
You need to file your:
- Form 14: Notice of Motion
- Form 6B: Affidavit of Service
- Form 14A: Affidavit
- Form 13: Financial Statement
Your court file is called the continuing record. It has all the important documents in your case that you want the judge to look at.
The continuing record has 2 parts:
- The endorsement volume has all the endorsements and court orders the judge made in your case. An endorsement is the written directions a judge gives you and your partner that says what you must do or not do.
- The documents volume has most of the documents you and your partner file in your case. For example, your Applications, Answers, Replies, affidavits of service, financial statements, motions, and affidavits.
When you add a document to the continuing record, you also have to update the table of contents by listing each document you're filing. Court staff can help you make a continuing record and may help you figure out where a document goes.
If you have a separation agreement, you may not have a continuing record yet. In that case, the court may ask you to create one.
You must tell the court that you will be at your motion date and that you're ready to go ahead.
You do this by filling out a Form 14C: Confirmation form. Write down the amount of time you think you'll need, the specific issues that will be discussed, and the documents the judge should read.
You can fax the form or take it to the courthouse in person.
Do this no later than 2:00 p.m. at least two days before your motion date. If you miss this deadline, the court may not hear your motion.
The day's list of cases is usually posted on a board near the entrance to the court or outside the courtroom. If you have trouble finding it, ask at the court counter.
Make sure you bring copies of all of the documents you filed with the court.
Before you see the judge, you should talk to duty counsel if they are available in your court location. These are lawyers in family court that can give you some legal advice and help the day you're in court if your income is low enough.
You should also talk with the lawyer from the Family Responsibility Office (FRO). They will call your name in the waiting room. You may be able to make a voluntary payment plan where you agree to a payment schedule you can afford.
The FRO usually requires that your payment plan include your monthly support payments plus an additional amount toward the support owing. The FRO cannot agree to change the amount of support.
If you and the FRO lawyer agree on payment terms, you can get a refraining order on consent. This means you both agree to the order. If you do not reach an agreement, the judge decides.
The judge will have all the documents you filed. The judge may have questions for you, so be prepared to speak in the courtroom. You should stand up when speaking to a judge. Remove your hat and don't chew gum when you're in court. And turn off your cellphone.
If you're successful and the judge gives you a refraining order, you must start a motion to change your support order within 20 days. A motion to change is the only way to change the terms of the support agreement or order.
If you don't do this, the FRO can ask the Registrar of Motor Vehicles to suspend your driver's licence.
The judge may also make other orders, like asking you to:
- Provide financial information to the FRO.
- Make payments on the arrears, that is, the support payments owing.
- Make ongoing payments of child support.