Good news for parents on social assistance who get child support

New rules mean that parents on social assistance who also get child support payments now have more money.

This month's On the Radar highlights this change. It also talks about some other things that people on assistance should know if they get child or spousal support.

Child support – what's new

There's a new rule that Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) no longer reduce a person's assistance because they get child support.

People who get money from OW or ODSP now get to keep the child support payments and the full amount of their financial assistance from OW or income support from ODSP.

As well, OW or ODSP will not refuse, reduce, or cut off assistance because someone does not try to get child support.

The government got rid of the rule that said people had to make "reasonable efforts" to try to get child support from their child's other parent.

When the changes apply

These changes start:
  • January 1, 2017, for people who get income support from ODSP
  • February 1, 2017, for people who get financial assistance from OW
But the right to keep the full amount of social assistance and the child support payment only applies to child support that's owed for periods of time after these dates.

Spousal support – what didn't change

Unlike child support, getting spousal support payments continues to affect the amount of assistance a person gets from OW or ODSP.

OW or ODSP reduces the amount of a person's assistance by the amount of spousal support they get.

And OW or ODSP can refuse, reduce, or cut off assistance if a person does not make reasonable efforts to get spousal support from someone who is or was their spouse, as defined by family law.

But not everyone has to try to get spousal support. For example, if a person's spouse is violent towards them or their child, they might not have to try to get support.

Spousal support – what's new

OW or ODSP no longer reduces a person's assistance by the amount of their spousal support if they do not get the support that they‘re owed.

It's only if they get the money that OW or ODSP deducts the amount from their assistance.

And while people used to be able to have the Family Responsibility Office send their support payments directly to OW or ODSP, they can't do that anymore. This was called "assigning" their support payments.

Under the new rules, agreements to have the Family Responsibility Office send support payments to OW or ODSP are cancelled.

Instead, the Family Responsibility Office sends support payments directly to the people who are owed support.

Getting legal help

People who need advice or help dealing with OW or ODSP can contact a community legal clinic.

And if they disagree with a decision by OW or ODSP, they may be able to appeal that decision to the Social Benefits Tribunal. A community legal clinic may be able to help someone who needs to appeal a decision.
This email alert gives general legal information. It is not a substitute for getting legal advice about a particular situation.
January 2017
On the Radar is a monthly email alert from CLEO that highlights timely legal information.
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