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Wife Plans to Sue Ontario Family Responsibility Office for Husband’s Suicide

Wife Plans to Sue Ontario Family Responsibility Office for Husband’s Suicide

In the past few years, the government of Ontario implemented legislative amendments allowing drivers’ cars to be impounded and / or their licenses to be suspended in cases where they have failed to pay child support. According to a London, Ontario woman, this impact has directly caused the suicide of her common-law husband.

She and the husband had two children, now aged 18 and 21. They separated in 1996 and the husband, a 50 year-old truck driver, had been paying child support for the children since then. However, he had recently become unemployed due to a down-turn in the trucking industry, and missed two child support payments totalling about $4,000.

This prompted the Ontario Family Responsibility Office (FRO) to suspend his commercial license. This left him unable to secure employment even when opportunities later became available shortly afterwards. Nor could he afford the $1,500 the FRO demanded in order to reinstate his license. His efforts to negotiate with them – including those made by his MPP and ombudsman on his behalf – were unsuccessful.

Eventually, the FRO took him to court, requesting $10,000 (to cover his outstanding support payments, the reinstatement fee, and court costs) or else a jail sentence of 188 days in lieu. He could not afford a lawyer, so represented he himself in court. The judge advised that she was unable to assist him with this legal quandary.

The husband was therefore stuck in a downward spiral of being unable to pay child support, unable to pay the $10,000, and unable to work without his commercial license. And naturally he would be unable to earn an income if was serving time in jail.

He became despondent, and in August of 2010 committed suicide by laying down beside railway tracks near his home and rolling into the path of an oncoming train.

His common-law wife now holds the FRO responsible for his death, and apparently plans to sue them in court. Incidentally, the trauma she experienced due to his death threw her into her own suicidal depression, which required her to undergo a six-week stay in hospital.

In Ontario, the FRO’s various statutory powers to enforce child support orders arises from the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act. (And similar support-payment enforcement mechanisms exist in other Canadian provinces, administered by offices such as the FRO which effectively impose quasi-criminal penalties for non-payment.) The provisions of the Act are complex, and there can be serious consequences if notices or correspondence from the FRO are ignored. Russell Alexander and our staff can provide advice and consultation on the responsibilities attendant with child support obligations, or on other family issues. Please visit  for further information.

  1. Andrew #

    I came across this looking for FRO’s website and was immediately taken. With FRO taking this man’s licence away made it impossible for the man to find work and after truck driving for years what is the guy suppose to do. Yes, the father in obligated to pay child support but how is he going to pay it if all he know how to make money is drive and then the government takes that from him. To me, being a young father my self, i am struggling to make child support payments and have not many skills and people need to have transport to work at the very least, and don’t tell me to take a bus because public transit is completely unreliable. The government needs to re evaluate this act because it is a massive step backwards as them even trying to collect child support and the man getting on with his life. this woman has my full support on taking FRO to court taking some ones license away doesn’t solve the issue of payments due it in fact makes it harder for FRO to collect and the man to live his life. This government needs a good kick in the ass, straight up.

    December 8, 2011
    • Thank you for your comment Andrew.

      Yes, the system can be quite frustrating for support payors (both male and female). Change is needed.

      December 8, 2011
  2. I am in a similar and perhaps more complex situation. I was an Ontario resident, now re-married and residing in Australia. The FRO and the Australian equivalent, CSA work together to collect my child support.

    I attended Court initially via teleconference and was successful at negotiating a reasonable settlement that did not provision for me seeing my daughter in Australia – she is now 17. Truth be known, her mother works for Peel Regional Police and has had a fair bit of assistance in blocking contact while I have tried to visit her in Canada as well.

    The judge awarded child support based on my audited earnings, and because it was being collected by the CSA here in Australia, the Judge made it simple and dictated the amount to be paid in Australian dollars, and not Canadian dollars.

    The FRO collected this higher amount for a period of four years and then sent me notification that they weren’t able to enforce this order because the amount is in AUD?

    They somehow reverted the court order back to one made when we were first separated and my daughter was 4 years old. This court order outlined child care expenses as she was not yet in school – but bringing that into context – by the time the new order was made the child care expenses were not applicable – nor ordered by the judge.

    Under Australian Legislation, they are not legally allowed to collect for child care expenses and only for actual child support. Because of this and because of the debacle with reverting to the previous support order, the Ontario Government reckons I owe them nearly $10,000 in “child support” payments arrears, when in actual fact it is for child care that was not even applicable at the time.

    As a result of their aggresive enforcement behaviour – they routinely void my Canadian Passport.

    I operate a business and routinely travel for work and it is like playing Russian Roulette with global airports – to see when the Canadian government is going to pull my passport next, stranding me somewhere.

    BTW – I have never missed a child support payment, and have sent those verification letters off to the FRO based on payments to the CSA.

    It is an absolute joke – and forget negotiating with them, they don’t want to hear your story or look towards a solution. Whatever is written on your order is gospel – and they will go to any length to make sure you pay – rightly or wrongly?

    To make matters even worse, they are difficult to communicate with and do not even have emails that they will share to expedite communication, payments or whatever?

    After nearly a decade of going back and forth – I think I have finally found the solution. I’ll let my Canadian passport expire and in the meantime acquire an Australian passport – that way when I travel I know I won’t get stuck anywhere?

    Since Australia cannot legally enforce the child care expenses (that should never have been in the first place) – and the only way Canada can flex their muscles to get the money is to deny my passport. I might even gift wrap my passport for them and send it to the FRO office telling them that they can keep my passport, along with their bill for $10,000 and fuck off!.

    It’s a long swim through shark infested waters to get here.

    January 24, 2012
  3. Carman Selman #

    And another comment about the FRO.. when it comes to support payments why are they not Obligated to provide the support payor with a receipt for total paid each year. there would be a lot less of a hassle come tax time. I have been fighting for three years now trying to get my support allowed on my taxes….

    March 16, 2012
  4. P.H. #

    I am deeply sorry to learn and read about this. My husband was married and had a child and got divorced. The Family Responsibilities Office got involved to collect the child support payments and section 7 expenses. During 2003 – 2009 he paid his support payments on time every month. His section 7 expenses was the problem. He remarried and had 2 small children. His ex wife then started to submit daycare expenses every month to FRO that were not legitimate. These were created by her and then submitted for payment. The expenses were enormous. My husband went several times to the daycare provider and his son was not there but yet he was being billed for it. He pleaded with the daycare provider to give him the receipts, her reply was ask you ex wife I give them to her all the time. The legitimate receipts were given to his ex by the daycare provider but she would revise them on her own sheet and change the duration time and amounts and submit them to FRO for payment. We contacted FRO and argued these were not signed receipts from the Daycare and we were not honoring them until we received the proper receipts from the Daycare Provider. My husband was always in arrears for the section 7 expenses because of this. FRO has lawyers within their organization and it was brought to their attention serveral times. We even complained to the Ambudsman of Ontario Office about this but nothing was done. We even wrote Ottawa about it. FRO took my husband’s driver’s liscense away twice. He lost his job as FRO put a garnashee on his salary, shortly after he was terminated from employment. His employer’s comments were he doesn’t want to deal with personal issues with child support. FRO took his income tax refund as for years to collect the outstanding Section 7 Daycare expenses. The amounts were not consistent each month but FRO still enforced payment as his ex would call FRO crying she did not have any money and needed it. In 2008 the economy took a downturn and we went into a recession my husband was let go from his employment. FRO still enforced payment and threatened to take his driver’s liscense away again if he did not pay them in full for his arrears. He suffered a deep deppression and our marriage suffered the consequences. I tried calling her to reason with her and questioned why is she doing this?? She laughed at me and said you can get away with anything in Canada as no one checks.
    She was right… We had no choice but to take her to court to get the section 7 expenses set to one amount with no invoices to be submitted. She dragged out the case for over a year as she refused to settle until she got some money out of it. My husband never adjusted his child support payments for the period of 2004-2009 therefore has a large overpayment. She settled finally with us paying her for arrears which she claimed. The only reason we settled as the lawyers fees were enormous and it was adding up each time we went to court. When the ex found out there might be a credit of overpayment owing to her ex husband she said she did not want to go back as she wants to forward. The judge said no arrears and no credits due but the order was temporary as he did not set the amount for section seven expenses as my husband was still unemployed. The case was set for another date giving my husband time to seek employment. When we returned to court we got a different judge and she changed her story again saying she wants to collect her arrears. This is why the case was dragging on and we were paying lawyers fee’s as she represented herself and cried the single mother syndrome with no money. We settled the case in June 2010 and I just learned she purchased a second house in September 2010 currently she owns 2 houses.

    If FRO was doing their job correctly and did not accept these false receipts for the daycare expenses we would not have been to court. We paid close to $10,000.00 in legal fee’s plus overpaid the section seven expenses for daycare and have an overpayment of child support payments which we never rec’d as a credit.

    FRO is a collection agency and is very poor at it. Their website clearly states only signed receipts will be accepted for section seven expenses which is not correct as they will accept any receipt as we have proof of this in our files. The ex got a signed statement from the comissioner that the receipts she was submitting was accurate and true. Anyone can get a statement signed in front of a commissioner (sworn affidavit) but the question is are the receipts ligitimate?

    “Father’s don’t have a voice in Ontario in the Justice System and The Family Responsibility’s Office confirms this statement with their actions”.

    It is really distubing to see an Immigrant from a forein country can come to Canada and make a mockery out of our Canadian system and laugh about it!!!

    I hope you get closure for you and your family for your unfortunate circumstances you are going through.

    May your husband rest in peace.


    April 24, 2012
  5. Tan #

    i am very saddened to hear of this i found this article when looking up how my boyfriend can get the proper records of the support he paid to his daughters mother. i agree the men are not getting the proper representation on this matter when dealing with FRO. We are lucky and the mother is working with us to figure it out and being very honest about everything and as she lives in the US it makes it just a little more complicated. We requested the paper work but they did not send 2 years of the documents and the numbers are not adding up at all. To top it all off the company’s that sent money off his checks is not even on their paper work but we have the documents for that. So one way or other i will try to figure it all out but i will say this something needs to be done to fix this problem.

    July 10, 2012
  6. claritza #

    my husband

    July 11, 2012
    • We are sorry for your loss.

      July 11, 2012
    • Dale T. #


      I’m very, very sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how hard it is to try to understand how a government agency can ruin people’s lives and not be accountable for it.

      I’m starting a documentary on FRO in the next couple of months and I would love to talk to you Claritza about this if you would share your story with me.

      Please email me back and we can discuss this more if you want.

      April 15, 2013
  7. Claritza I am also sorry for your loss, and I truly hope you are successful with any possible legal action with respect to the FRO. The collections measures executed by the FRO are more often than not innately counter-productive. Under certain, very specific circumstances license suspension and vehicle seizure may be a viable option; however, for the greater masses of payors, this is not the case. These measures not only totally eliminate earning ability, but also inflict significant psychological and emotional distress and hardship. Change is needed…the FRO needs to give their mandate a thorough review. Maybe we need a nice big damage award against them.

    August 11, 2012
  8. veronika #

    i am in agreement of the FRO offfice is in need of a change over hughly!!

    I am a recepient, of a defaulting non-payor he actually refueses,, and the default hearing in my case are redicuclious…it baffles me greatly how, the cousel of the FRO, are aiding him in fun ride playing the court file seriously makes the court syems look like a mickey mouse joke!! why i do i say this…cause my file should be simple!! why cause my ex works make a very good living at 53.76 an hour full beneits and a nice pension, gets lieu days sick das banked…, my 11year old file just found out has no paper trail of any fincial discosre summited or forced, no 3rd party forced to discloser her income asset etc being his commonlaw partner of 9 years, hes been incarceraded 6 time thus far for refusal to pay ironticaly then received a payment for child support cause he wasnt able to pick up his pay check and it was direct depostited next day…bank garnished is in efffect…, he tells them hes putting in a motion..fro say will ajourn to monitor his motion…yet they do not check/confirm of any motion starting even on return date still no motion and they still dont confirm within the file of fifling theuy only take his word of is this binding..this allows 2000.00 to be missed… i have even endorsment of fro cousel saying ajournd as we anticipate a payment..ahh hello, you call this enforecment his work/ even a local/union has 14days to tell FRO of the payor nincome source within the company..fro is yet to bring them into court as a 3rd party disclosers?? my ex has lived in the rented bungalow for 9 years now…affording to pay 1400.00 plus utilities a month eat with out food bank, and have gatherings every weekend..even has a pop machine on thier outside deck full of beer… our income is 44,760.12 diffrence… as for i we live off a budget, food banks, even tho i work, i find it difficult to make ends meet on a monthly basis i have a sone with a mild disability, which requires more car at time though hes now a teenager…
    if your aware on how one can force a local/union to take ownership of their wrong down allowing a worker to hide behide their tactis pls let me know and how one can force the FRO to do thier job corrently followed by proto call..mainly being finacail discloser and proof of exspences…, andforce him to do their income he hasnt done them sice 2005…then let me know be vey appreciative chheers

    fr.. lostinaction.. whitby ont..

    October 19, 2012
  9. veronika #

    p.s the biggest joke in my file is that of the FRO cousel has been motoring his “Ghost” motion to change for one year now..i just learnd while i requested a copy of all endorsments from the defaults hearings out in oshawa…. i have a 2005 order that clearly states’ he is not able to put a motion in without the courts perfission to do so, and when all discloserue is forward to me june15th of each months….and a letter from his union/local with the list of all his assignments to corresponed with his statements, and all ROE’s and notice of assessments, and income tax returns… so since i make in fully awaer each month to FRO and at EACH’ default hearings that he has not done so or filed them as cpoies within the court too…they the FRO cousel, seems to be doing their own thing!! causing my family to stay in poverty, needy onto other taxpaers too, while thier off and the non payor collecting their full pays each week-monthly….!!! im in the wrong field….lol any suggion/though/info would be so wonderful right about now…

    October 19, 2012

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