Family Support

What is the Family Support Worker?Image of single parents with their children

The Family Support Worker assists parents receiving Ontario Works assistance to obtain financial support from an absent parent.

The Ontario Works Program is an income tested program with legislative requirements to pursue any available income. Social Assistance Recipients are expected to obtain any financial resource available to them  including child and spousal support, as a condition of receiving benefits,.

What will my Family Support Worker do?

It begins with an interview. A Family Support Worker will talk with you and decide the best way to obtain child or spousal support. This could mean the worker will help you and the absent parent agree on a reasonable amount of child support or help you take the matter of child or spousal support to court for a decision.  The Family Support Worker will:

  • Review your present support circumstance, whereabouts and the financial situation of the other parent;
  • If possible and necessary, the FSW will assist with court preparation to obtain a Court Order for child support or an increase in existing support.
  • In some cases clients will be referred to Legal Aid.

What are my responsibilities?

  1. Attend an interview with the FSW.
  2. Answer all questions to the best of your ability. 
  3. Help your FSW prepare for court if necessary. If court action is required, you are expected to attend.
  4. Report any and all child or spousal support you receive to your Case Manager.
  5. To make efforts to obtain all available income.

What kinds of questions will the Worker ask me?

The worker will ask you questions such as:

  • What is the name of the absent parent?
  • When is the last time there was any contact with him or her?
  • Do you have a lawyer?
  • Do you have a Support Order or Agreement?
  • Would the other parent volunteer support?
  • Is there any reason why we should not contact the other parent?

What should I bring to the interview?

When you meet with the Family Support Worker, you should bring:

  • Name, address, phone number and employer of the absent parent.
  • Any/all court orders and separation agreements.

If you cannot attend the scheduled appointment, you must phone the FSW to reschedule the appointment. This will avoid any delay in your Social Assistance cheque.

What if I do not have a Court Order of Agreement?

Your Family Support Worker will contact the other parent and ask him/her to voluntarily provide monthly child support. If the other parent is willing to do this, an out of court agreement will be an option.

If the other parent is not willing to pay child support, you may be required to go to court. The FSW will help you with the Court process. In some cases you may be referred to Legal Aid.

The Family Support Worker CANNOT give advice on access and custody.

What if I already have a Court Order or Agreement?

If you already have a Court Order or Agreement, you may not need to see the FSW. If the support is in arrears, or you feel the absent parent can pay more than what was ordered, you will need to see the FSW for consultation.

What if I don't want support from the other parent?

Parents must support their children. Children have the right to receive support from their parents. Since you are receiving Ontario Works benefits, you have an obligation to seek any and all available income. Support is considered an income.

What will happen to my Ontario Works entitlement?

Any child support you receive is counted as income when calculating the amount of monthly financial assistance.

"If the Child Support I receive is going to be deducted from my entitlement, why should I bother with Child Support?"

The Ontario Works program is an income tested program. The applicant must use all sources of income to continue to qualify for the Ontario Works benefits.

Child support amounts can be adjusted to recognize a child's special expenses or to prevent financial hardship for a parent or child in extraordinary circumstances. For example, more child support might be appropriate to cover child care costs where the costs are reasonable and necessary. Or, less child support might be appropriate where the paying parent has a new family and has a lower standard of living than the parent receiving support.

The Family Responsibility Office

The Family Responsibility Office is administered by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. This office has the power to enforce support orders and some agreements.

The Family Responsibility Office will make every effort to collect child support payments from the other parent.

To receive more information or to access a
Family Support Worker contact your Case Manager.