Family Responsibility Office

Office Snapshot

  • Location: Downsview (Toronto)
  • Lawyers: 15
  • Articling Students: 3
  • Summer Law Students: 1
  • Types of Law: Access & Privacy, Contract, Family, Human Rights, Torts

Who we are

The Legal Services Branch of the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) provides representation and assistance to the Director of the Family Responsibility Office in the enforcement of Family Support Orders, which operates under the authority of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act.

What we do

Counsel in the Legal Services Branch, FRO:

  • Provide legal advice to enforcement and administrative staff regarding the interpretation and enforceability of support provisions contained in court orders and domestic contracts
  • Appear for the Director in enforcement hearings in all levels of court
  • Train, instruct and supervise panel lawyers representing the Director’s Office throughout the province
  • Serve on committees and provide training and policy advice regarding enforcement process and the administration of the FRO.

In addition, we provide legal advice to the Director’s Office on related legislation, including the registration and enforcement of orders under the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act and in respect to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Other solicitor work in the branch includes contract, procurement, legislative and policy advice.

Our major cases

  • Fischer v. Ontario (Director, Family Responsibility Office), [2008] O.J. No. 4922: The case held that the court had the power when adjourning a default hearing to make a temporary order for support payments that included a term directing the imprisonment of the payor upon failure to comply with the payment terms
  • Ontario (Director, Family Responsibility Office) v.Kilpatrick, [2008] O.J. No. 3826: The most current case on the court’s power to include a term for incarceration to encourage payment
  • Ontario (Director of the Family Responsibility Office) v. Belic, [2006] C.C.S. No. 9970: A warrant of committal served by substitutional service did not constitute a violation of the Support Payor’s Charter rights under section 7
  • Adubofuor v. Ontario (Director, Family Responsibility Office), [2001] O.J. No. 708: An important case that sets out the court’s time limitation to grant a refraining order
  • McLarty v. Ontario (Director, Family Responsibility Office),[2001] O.J. No. 707
    Another leading case the FRO relies upon for the Court’s limited jurisdiction to grant refraining orders
  • Ontario (Director, Family Responsibility Office) v. Labrash, [2002] O.J. No. 140: An important case that sets out what a Support Payor must demonstrate at a default hearing to prove he has an inability to pay his arrears

What students do

Articling and summer law students will assist the lawyers in all facets of their legal work, including research, writing memoranda, drafting court documents, and drafting and responding to Freedom of Information appeals.

The articling experience places a strong emphasis on litigation, with students taking carriage of, and conducting enforcement proceedings on behalf of the Director.

Why choose us

We provide students with a well-rounded and 'hands-on' learning experience. Students work closely, on a daily basis, with senior FRO counsel who are widely respected and viewed as experts in their field. Articling students are also entrusted with a significant role in the drafting, research and litigation at the branch, and are encouraged to employ their own judgment and problem-solving skills in many areas of their work.

Many of our former counsel and law students are now successful members of the legal community, including The Honorable Justice Harvey Brownstone.

Articling at FRO provided an invaluable, comprehensive experience in a distinct area of Family Law. From drafting various legal documentation to a solid litigation experience, the articling program at FRO provided the foundation for the beginning of a well rounded legal career.

– Former Articling Student

Contact us

Christine Ziedins
Senior Counsel

Diane Gillies