Ministry of Community and Social Services (Family Responsibility Office)

Date: 2008


A mother of two young children whose ex-husband had defaulted on his support payments couldn’t believe he was getting away with it.

A final default order had been issued in September, threatening him with jail, but now it was December and nothing had happened.

His employer was supposed to remit up to 50% of his income to the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), but she suspected this wasn’t happening, and she was desperately afraid he was going to leave the country.

She also complained that she had never been able to speak to the FRO staff person handling her case.

Ombudsman staff discovered that the necessary paperwork had never been drafted after the man’s last court appearance – so no steps had been taken to incarcerate him for non-compliance.

Nor had the FRO done anything to seize the man’s driver’s license and passport.

FRO staff could not explain this delay, but at our request, they contacted the woman directly, and also the man’s employer, who sent FRO an immediate payment of $2,371.

Once the FRO completed the paperwork, it followed through on the court order and the man was incarcerated.

He quickly made a payment of $47,000 – about one-third of what he still owed.