3. Learn about when you don’t have to try to get spousal support

Beware of scams

People have been getting phone calls with a pre-recorded message telling them their Ontario Works account has been deleted.

This is a scam to trick you into sharing your personal information. If you get a call like that, hang up the phone. You can report these calls to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

The general rule is that Ontario Works (OW) can require you to make “reasonable efforts” to get if you might be able to get it.

If you can’t find your spouse

You may not have to try to get spousal support, if after some time, for example 2 years:

  • your spouse has not had contact with you, and
  • no one can find them.

But if you have any information that could help find your spouse, you must give this to OW.

Other reasons

There are some other times when you may not have to try to get spousal support. For example:

  • you can't go to family court for medical reasons
  • your spouse:
    • is violent towards you or your child
    • can't pay any support right now, for example, because they're in jail
    • is in another country where they can't be forced to pay support that a court in Ontario ordered them to pay

In situations like these, OW should decide that you don't have to try to get spousal support.

But they will review their decision, usually in 3 to 12 months. They should tell you when they plan to review it.

When OW reviews their decision

When OW reviews their decision, if things are the same, they may decide that you still don't have to try to get spousal support.

Or, they might give you a date when they'll do another review.

But OW can also decide that they don't need to review your situation. For example, they might do this if:

  • no one can find your spouse after searching for what OW considers to be “a reasonably long time”
  • there's an ongoing risk of your spouse being violent towards you or your child

OW can ask you for proof of your situation. For example, to show that your spouse was violent, you might need to get a police report or a letter from a doctor or counsellor.

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