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Family Matters: Assisting Families going through Separation and Divorce

The Family Matters program aims to minimize the impact of separation and divorce on all family members – especially children – by providing:

  • information and resources to deal with a changing family situation; and
  • assistance to resolve urgent and outstanding issues.

1. Resources

When you contact Family Matters, you will reach an Intake Worker.

The Intake Worker will gather basic information to assess your needs. They may ask you questions like:

  • How long have you been separated?
  • Do you have children?
  • Have you made a decision on parenting time?
  • What are the pressing issues you are experiencing?

The Intake Worker will provide relevant information and connect you with other services. If further assistance is required, you will be referred to a Service Provider who will work with both parties to resolve issues in a free three hour session. Information or referrals from the Intake Worker or Service Provider may include:

  • Legal Services
    • Public Legal Education Association (PLEA) - provides free plain language resources, including family law resources, through a variety of programs to help the public understand the law.
    • Support Variation and Family Law Information Centre - an information and resource centre in the area of family law and options for resolving family disputes. It also provides help to people who wish to represent themselves in court through their Self-Help Kits (18 kits currently available). Call toll free 1-888-218-2822 or 306-787-5837 for more information or to request a Self-Help Kit. You may also email
    • Legal Aid Saskatchewan - provides a range of legal services to low income individuals in Saskatchewan in the areas of family and criminal law.
    • Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan - a non-profit organization that creates, facilitates and promotes opportunities for lawyers to provide high-quality pro bono (free) legal services to persons of limited means (funds). Call toll free 1-855-833-7257.
    • Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City Inc. (CLASSIC) - provides free, professional and confidential legal services for low-income members of their community who otherwise cannot afford legal advice or representation.
    • Collaborative Law - a process for resolving issues with the advice and assistance of lawyers but without going to court. All parties and their lawyers sign a contract agreeing not to go to court. They commit to work together in meetings in a non-adversarial, respectful way to find solutions that work for everyone involved in the conflict.

2. Common Misconceptions

People often receive information through family, friends or television about separation and divorce that is not accurate. Below are some common misconceptions and facts.

Children (child support, decision-making responsibility and parenting time)

Misconception Fact
"When my children turn 12, they can decide who they want to live with – mom or dad." There is no law in Saskatchewan setting a specific age when a child can decide where they would like to live. Judges can take into account the wishes of the child, having regard to the age and maturity of the child. Every case is unique.
"I'm going to get sole decision-making responsibility." Over half of agreements and orders are for joint decision-making responsibility. Sole decision-making responsibility arrangements are becoming rarer over time.
"Mothers always get sole decision-making responsibility of the children."
Joint legal decision-making responsibility is the most common arrangement where the parents are separated. This may not mean equal parenting time, but both parents will be involved in making major decisions on behalf of children.
"I can stop paying child support when my child turns 18." Child support may be payable for children over the age of 18 who are still attending school, or have an illness or disability, so continue to be dependent on their parents.
"My one night stand got pregnant – she told me she was on the pill. She can't come after me for child support." Every parent has financial responsibility for their children. Every child has the right to be supported.
"If my ex can afford to go on fancy holidays, then I don't need to pay child support." Child support is based on calculations of how much a parent at a certain income level would spend on a child, including food, shelter, clothing and spending on things like entertainment and vacations. These calculations are the basis of the Child Support Guidelines Tables. The courts rarely adjust child support based on the spending habits of either the payor or recipient.
"No one is going to tell me how much child support I need to pay." Federal Child Support Guidelines set out the amount of child support payable, based on the parent's income and number of children. Deviation from these amounts by the courts is rare.
"I don't get to see the kids so I don't have to pay any child support."
"He can only see the kids if he pays child support."
A child has the right to have a relationship with both parents, and to be financially supported. Preventing the child from spending time with the other parent because support has not been paid, or vice versa, punishes the child twice. This is the way a judge would view the situation.
"Once the divorce is final, I'm done with my ex!" Certain issues may be resolved with the finalization of a divorce. However, if you have children together, parenting issues will exist into your children's adulthood.

Property Division

Misconception Fact
"Our house is only in my name and I made all the payments – so I get to keep it."
"I earned the money in our house – my spouse didn't work, so I should get more of our property."
Family property division legislation in Saskatchewan states that the equity in the family home will be divided equally between spouses, regardless of whose name is on the title, and who contributed financially to the home.

Spousal Support

Misconception Fact
"My cheating spouse is going to pay." The amount of spousal support is most closely linked to incomes of the parties. Just because one party has cheated does not mean he or she will have to pay a higher amount of spousal support. Saskatchewan family property division laws are "no fault." Property division is not influenced by the reasons for why a relationship ended.
"All ex-wives get spousal support." Spousal support takes into consideration the financial position of both spouses, the length of the spousal relationship, the roles of each spouse during the relationship, the effects of the breakdown of the relationship, as well as many other factors.
Not every situation leads to awards of spousal support.


Misconception Fact
"The judge will see how awful my ex is and will take my side." The judge will usually hear two different stories from the parties and will disregard any information that is not relevant to the dispute.

3. Contact Family Matters

To use this program, please contact us directly to discuss your situation with an Intake Worker.

Please note that the Family Matters Program does not provide legal advice.


4. Further Information

About the Program

Family Matters: Assisting Families through Separation and Divorce helps families going through separation or divorce by providing access to:

  • information and resources to deal with a changing family situation; and
  • assistance to resolve urgent and outstanding issues.

The earlier separating families are able to address their issues, the more likely they will be able to reach resolution and minimize the negative impact, both emotionally and financially, on themselves and their children.

In spite of the availability of quality information and services, the current challenge for many is to identify what is available, access it, understand it, and use it to make quality choices.

Family Matters is available throughout Saskatchewan.

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