Employment & Social Services helps Toronto residents receiving Ontario Works Assistance access spousal support (and in exceptional cases, child support) and find services that improve family finances and quality of life.

As spousal support is a mandatory requirement and is deducted from social assistance payments, people receiving Ontario Works can get advice and information about the process. We will set up out-of-court support agreements or assist you at court if this is preferred.

Child support is not deducted from social assistance payments, and therefore families can immediately improve their financial security when this support is in place. If you are pursuing spousal support and there are children from this relationship, we can also help you pursue child support.

Additionally, we help parents receiving Ontario Works access related services and supports. We want to connect you to the right services at the right time!

Family Support Workers are available in every Toronto Employment & Social Services office to help with support issues and provide you with information to strengthen your community ties.

Ask your Caseworker about how to connect with us or call us directly at 416-338-3800.

We connect you to programs and services in Toronto that build healthy families and help improve family finances and quality of life. We are always looking for available family services so that we can pass this information on to you.

Our staff can meet with you individually to talk about your family’s needs. They also host information events about supports and services available to families where you can network with other parents in your community, and hear from guest speakers like legal experts or health professionals.

As of February 2017, child support is not deducted from social assistance payments, although spousal support still is.

Pursuing support can be complicated, but we can make it easier. A family support worker can help you to explore the options that best suit your needs and work with you on a personal plan to arrange support, connect you with services to help enforce a support order, or refer you to Legal Aid assistance if required.

While receiving Ontario Works, do I have to pursue child support?

Pursuing child support is no longer mandatory, but is highly recommended, as both parents have a legal obligation to support their child(ren), and child support is no longer deducted from Ontario Works. When you receive child support payments, you increase your family income.

While receiving Ontario Works, do I have to pursue spousal support?

Yes. Pursuing spousal support is still mandatory while you receive Ontario Works, and any spousal support received while also receiving assistance is deducted from your Ontario Works payments.

A little more information about support agreements

There are several types of written support agreements. Some do not require you to go to court – these agreements are called private agreements and may be referred to as separation agreements. Support agreements that do require you to go to court are called court orders.

The Ontario Child Support Guidelines determine the amount of support to be paid.

The benefits of having a written support agreement are:

  • Your court order or private agreement provides an ongoing source of income.
  • Support income is not taxable income, and child support is not deducted from Ontario Works Assistance (although spousal support is deducted).
  • The person who is to pay support (the support payor) must disclose their income on a yearly basis. This means you may get future increases in your support payments.
  • You will be able to register your written agreement with the Family Responsibility Office which will enforce your support payments if necessary.

As of February 2017, child support is not deducted from social assistance payments.

Child support provides an ongoing income source that improves your family’s financial security and includes both parents in the financial support of their children. Support agreements and orders can remain in effect until your child is 18 or has completed school (including post-secondary school).

A Family Support Worker can assist by answering child support questions and referring individuals to the appropriate agencies that can assist with pursuing child support.

The government of Ontario also has a website where you can set up a child support agreement online.

Spousal support, which is money for the parent rather than for the child, is a financial resource that the Ontario Works Act says must be pursued wherever possible. We will help with this process, and will review this requirement with you.

Spousal support, unlike child support, is an income which is deducted from Ontario Works assistance payments.

Private Agreements are voluntary written contracts between two people who are willing to work out a support agreement.

A Family Support Worker can arrange to meet with both individuals to reach an acceptable support agreement. The person who is to pay support is required to provide pay stubs, income tax returns and other information to confirm their income.

If you wish to pursue spousal support but cannot reach a private agreement or believe court is a better route for you, other options are available. The Employment and Social Services Family Support Worker can help you fill out application forms to start court action. After completing and signing your court application, you will receive your court hearing date.

The other person, referred to as the respondent or payor will receive a copy of your application form as well as other court forms to complete before the court date. The Family Support Worker will explain what needs to be done and how it will happen.

At the court hearing, if you do not have a lawyer, a Family Support Worker will be present at court to help you and speak on your behalf. You will also be able to talk to a Duty Counsel, who is a lawyer available on your day in court for legal advice.

The court process will be faster if you and the other person:

  • attend all scheduled hearings
  • provide all required financial information
  • are able to negotiate an agreement.

Family Support Workers can also help you defend arrears (past spousal support payments to which you may have been entitled but did not receive) and help make changes to your court order.

For more information about child and spousal support contact:

Read more about Ontario Works.