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How late is late?

Ministry of Community and Social Services (Family Responsibility Office)

Date: 2009

How late is late?An MPP contacted the Ombudsman’s Office on behalf of a constituent who felt the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) was not taking adequate enforcement measures against her ex-husband, who was late in making his support payments and owed her nearly $3,000. The FRO had told her that its policy directives allowed the man a full month after the due date to make each payment before it would be seen as “late.” She believed that her ex was taking advantage of this practice.

An Ombudsman staff member contacted the FRO and after a review of the file, its officials agreed that additional enforcement action was warranted. A writ of seizure and sale was registered against the man’s property, a garnishment was put in place to collect any monies he received from federal sources and the process was initiated to suspend his driver’s licence.

FRO staff also confirmed they could exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis, rather than sticking strictly to policy. At the Ombudsman’s Office’s request, the FRO advised all its staff they should consistently give the message that payments are due on the date specified in the payor’s court order.