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What are the rules about getting spousal support and financial assistance from Ontario Works?

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What are the rules about getting spousal support and financial assistance from Ontario Works?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)

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What are the rules about getting spousal support and financial assistance from Ontario Works?
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Reviewed: 
November 30, 2017
Answer

Spousal support payments affect the amount of financial assistance you get from Ontario Works (OW).

OW reduces the amount of your assistance by the amount of spousal support you get.

But a new rule that applies starting February 1, 2017, says that this only happens if you get the support money. OW does not reduce your assistance if you’re supposed to get spousal support but it’s not paid to you.

Trying to get spousal support

OW can require you to make “reasonable efforts” to get spousal support from someone who is or was your spouse as defined by family law.

But the rule is different for child support. OW will not say that you must try to get child support when you apply for assistance or while you’re getting assistance.

Reporting spousal support payments

You have to tell OW about any spousal support payments that you get. This lets OW know how much to take off your assistance.

If you don’t tell them, OW will say that they gave you too much money and you have an overpayment. They can take steps to get the money back.

If OW says that you have to pay back assistance and you don’t agree, you may want to contact a community legal clinic.

If OW thinks you broke the rules on purpose, they can ask the police to charge you with fraud. If this happens, get legal help right away.

Applying for OW

OW includes spousal support as income when you apply for assistance. So it affects their decision on whether you qualify financially.

This is because to qualify for OW, your income can’t be more than a certain amount. That amount depends on the number of people in your household and the cost of your housing.

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