Innovative government program aims to take the bite out of divorce

It’s not uncommon for divorcing or separating couples to feud over spousal support, child support and custody arrangements.
It’s not uncommon for divorcing or separating couples to feud over spousal support, child support and custody arrangements. (Photo: iStock)

The government of Saskatchewan is expanding its successful pilot program Family Matters throughout the province in order to help couples and their children ease the stress and expenses of going through divorce or separation.

The program provides families with:

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

The initiative was designed to match the couples with intake workers who will ask questions about their situation and give them information, as well as connect them to other services. If the couple needs more help, they are provided with a free three-hour session with the purpose of settling issues, ranging from custody to financial support, out of court.

The program was launched in November 2014 with the help of the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, who donated $1.3 million in order to get the project off the ground. Initially it was only available in the cities of Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert but due to the success of the program - there have already been 83 problem-solving sessions - the government has decided to add more locations.

Robbie Behr, assistant director with Saskatchewan’s family justice services told CBC’s The Morning Edition,Sometimes when we're in the middle of a fight, we lose common sense and we just don't know where to go to get resources. . . our hopes really are that we're going to minimize the effects on the children, the families.”

It’s not uncommon for divorcing or separating couples to feud over spousal support, child support and custody arrangements, and lose lots of money in the process. This government initiative aims to take the bite out of feuds by providing immediate guidance and counselling, so couples don’t have to reach the high-conflict stages of separation or divorce, saving people both money and tears.

Isn’t this what access to justice should be about?

Note: The story initially said that the Law Society of Saskatchewan donated money to the project, which was incorrect. It was the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan who donated the funds for the project.

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