The Effects Of Child Support Overpayments, Cost Of Living Adjustments, And The FRO

February 22, 2012

By Mark Mikulasik

The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) announced this week that it is currently taking steps to address administrative errors that resulted in overpayments of child support to thousands of Ontario residents, totaling close to 5.3 million dollars, and in some cases dating back to 1997.

Those affected by the error may receive a “Notice of Cost of Living Adjustment” from the Family Responsibility Office, however, if you believe your child support payments are affected by the error but have not been contacted, by filling out the following form, the FRO will review your file.

The error concerns annual cost of living adjustments that were eliminated through Federal Child Support Guidelines but in some cases have been continuously applied since 1997. As a result, payors of child support will receive a credit or refund for the overpayment, however, recipients will not be accountable or responsible for these previous overpayments. From the payor’s point of view, a credit will result in either deceased or eliminated support payments for a specified period of time. Recipients of support, on the other hand, will have payments decreased to reflect the error in cost of living adjustment which could have adverse affects on those who rely heavily on a specific, previous, incorrect, payment amount.

Further to Brad Smith’s recent article, “What’s New for 2012? The New Child Support Guidelines Table Amounts”, If the annual income of a payor of child support has increased since the court order, family arbitration award or separation agreement was issued, an application to vary support payments may result in increased support payments that could mitigate the gap between the corrected support payment and the previous, incorrect payment the error created.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Firstly, review the court order or separation agreement to see if it is being enforced by the Family Responsibility Office. Secondly, you may want to obtain legal advice as to any remedies available to you.