Refer to the Yellow Pages of your phone book for a listing of community organizations by looking under a heading such as "Social Service Organizations." Many cities and towns have community information centres with trained staff or volunteers. They can give you free information about services in your area.
Depending on the size and location of your community or city, the following organizations may exist in your area. Their programs and resources are there for your benefit.
Over 120 family service organizations in Canada provide programs and services such as family life counselling, educational programs, family violence prevention and intervention, debt management and referrals.
To find the family service organization in your area, refer to the Yellow Pages of the phone book under a heading such as "Social Service Organizations." Look for the name of an organization (or organizations) with a title such as "Family Services," "Family Service Bureau," "Family Service Centre," "Family and Children's Services." Sometimes the name of these organizations is preceded by the name of your town, city or province, or by a religious affiliation such as "Catholic," "Protestant" or "Jewish."
Family Service Canada is a national non-profit organization representing family-serving agencies across the country.
For assistance in locating an agency in your area call 1-800-668-7808, or contact them at:
Their website lists resources designed to assist people in their relationships, in critical times and in day-to-day living. Services are directed toward parents, children, youth, service providers and community leaders. For example, topics on their website include:
Over 140 branches of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) are located in communities across Canada. In addition to community services and programs, CMHA distributes inexpensive pamphlets on parenting, separation and divorce, including:
To locate the CMHA branch nearest you, look in the phone book under the Canadian Mental Health Association, or contact:
For pamphlets, contact the CMHA website and complete the electronic form provided, or call the branch nearest you.
Other organizations may offer services and programs for you and your children, such as information and referral agencies, family resource programs, United Way/Centraide, Friendship Centres, YMCA and YWCA. Refer to your phone book for these and other organizations available in your community.
Using the Internet: How to Gain Access to the Information Highway
THE INTERNET IS A NETWORK of networks, linking computers to computers. It is sometimes compared to a giant international plumbing system. The Internet itself does not contain information; rather it finds documents found on computers linked to the Internet.
Industry Canada supports various initiatives designed to help provide Canadians with affordable public access to the Internet and the skills to use it effectively. These initiatives include the Community Access Program, SchoolNet and LibraryNet. For those readers who would like to learn more about the Internet and how to gain access to it, the best place to start is by calling your local library. Many libraries are set up to help you learn about this tool and to use their specially designated computer terminals. If your library does not have these services, it may be able to connect you with organizations in your city or community that do.
This Resource section lists a large number of websites that contain information on topics related to helping children through the process of separation and divorce. The beauty of the Internet is that all of this information is at your fingertips. The disadvantage of the Internet is that, although you can find a wealth of information on almost any topic, the quality or accuracy of the information varies widely. That's why it's important to know a bit about the reliability of the source of the information you have located.
If you're just getting started on the Internet, there is one website that we suggest you begin with: The Canadian Child Care Federation's website called "Child and Family Canada ,' supported by Human Resources Development Canada and Industry Canada (), contains a wealth of useful information provided by over 45 collaborating voluntary organizations. This website includes information and resources on topics such as child care; family resource programs; child development; family life; health; learning activities; literacy; media influences; parenting; physical activities and play; child safety; social issues; special needs; and adolescent health and well-being.
Various government programs and services are also available to serve children and families at the local level. A community organization or your family doctor can provide information about them, or they can be found in the phone book's Blue Pages under:
Your provincial government is responsible for providing health and social services throughout the province, including health care, family and children's services, courts of law and legal aid.
For details on provincial and territorial government information on child support guidelines and programs, you can call the phone number for your province or territory.
Provincial/Territorial Government Phone Numbers
|Alberta - for toll-free access||1-310-0000|
|Prince Edward Island||800-240-9798|
|Ministère de la Justice du Québec||(418) 643-5140|
In addition to provincial and territorial government services, some provincial/territorial level voluntary organizations provide services and resources for families. A limited number of these organizations in your province or territory is listed in the Public Health Agency of Canada's Mental Health Promotion Unit website.
Although federal government departments may seem distant, they provide resources and information available to all Canadians. As with provincial and territorial government offices and services, refer to the Blue Pages of the phone book or the Internet.
For phone numbers of federal departments or services, refer to the government Blue Pages under "Government of Canada."
The primary Internet site for the Government of Canada is or you can contact federal departments that have Internet facilities.
The Public Health Agency of Canada's publication Guide to Federal Programs and Services for Children and Youth provides information on existing federal programs and services for parents, families, professionals and organizations that work with children. Copies may be obtained by contacting:
and Youth Division
Information/Public Education Section
Jeanne Mance Building
Address Locator: 1909C2
Tunney's Pasture Ottawa ON K1A 1B4
Tel.: (613) 952-1220 Fax: (613) 952-1556
The Public Health Agency of Canada's Mental Health Promotion Unit Website
The Mental Health Promotion Unit website of the Public Health Agency of Canada highlights programs and resources related to the topic of mental health promotion. Mental health promotion is built on the foundation of fostering personal resilience through empowering all individuals to strengthen their coping skills, self-esteem and ability to effectively utilize the resources offered by a supportive community.
This website includes a section called Because Life Goes On... that contains information and resources which complement and expand on the information included in this booklet.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines set the basic amount of child support that a paying parent should pay. This amount depends on where the parents live, the number of children, and the paying parent's income. One purpose of the Guidelines is to reduce conflict and the need for lengthy negotiations regarding the amount of child support. In this way, parents can determine, with more certainty, the amount of child support a court would order.
For more information about the Federal Child Support Guidelines, or to order free child support publications, please call the Department of Justice Canada, toll free, at 1-888-373-2222. Publications include a pamphlet entitled Child Support Guidelines: Kids Come First; a 28-page booklet entitled Federal Child Support Guidelines: A Guide to the New Approach; a Workbook for Parents; and the simplified child support tables for the particular province or territory. Or, you may order these publications by writing to:
Department of Justice Canada,
284 Wellington Street, Ottawa ON K1A 0H8.
Please make sure you specify where each parent lives, and how many children from this relationship are involved, so that the federal government can send you the relevant tables. Many of the publications are also on the Department of Justice Canada's Internet site under Child Support at http://canada.justice.gc.ca.
Quebec residents can obtain a publication from the Ministère de la Justice du Québec (Department of Justice) on the Quebec model for the determination of child support payments. Another brochure entitled Médiation, fixation, défiscalisation (des pensions alimentaires) : comprendre les changements, is available for a small fee from the Ministère du Revenu du Québec. Call 1-800-267-6299.
A number of non-government organizations across Canada take an active interest in enhancing the well-being of children and families. Some give hands-on help directly to family members while others carry out research and public education programs that benefit families. A few of these organizations, along with a description of their programs, resources and/or services, are listed in Health Canada's Mental Health Promotion Unit website.
Refer to the Public Health Agency of Canada's Mental Health Promotion Unit website for more information on the following national and international efforts to improve the well-being of children, youth and families:
Ask friends, family members and neighbours if they can recommend a child care program in your area.
If you do not have an income (for example, you've left your partner), you can apply for social assistance. Your needs will be determined based on documentation you will be asked to supply. The assistance may pay for food, fuel, medical insurance, education allowance, daycare and clothing. In an emergency, social assistance can give you money immediately, and you don't need to wait to apply until you're completely out of money.
A child and family service organization will be able to give you information on where and how to get financial assistance. Or refer to the government Blue Pages under provincial and municipal government for "Social Assistance." The website "Canadian Social Research Links" has a list of all provincial and territorial government departments responsible for social assistance.
Lawyers are now required by law to tell you about various ways a separating couple can negotiate to reach an agreement. Family mediation has become recognized as a way to solve family problems outside the court system. Before obtaining the services of a mediator, find out about her or his training and experience in mediating your type of case, fees charged, references, and whether the mediator has been certified by Family Mediation Canada. Some lawyers offer mediation on parenting and financial issues on a fee-for-service basis; they may be listed in the Yellow Pages.
The family mediation process varies between provinces and territories. For example:
Family Mediation Canada (FMC) is a non-profit association providing information and a referral service, and offers support and training for its membership of 1000 mediators across Canada. FMC also offers information resources such as:
FMC has a comprehensive video-lending library appropriate for private study. It has also published a Canadian Inventory of Parent Education Programs During Separation and Divorce, which describes over 130 programs. An order form is available on FMC's website.
For more information on family mediation, a listing of family mediators in your community, and to order materials, contact:
Most of the provinces and territories have the following organizations or services to help you with the legal aspects of separation and divorce. To find their addresses and phone numbers, refer to the Yellow Pages under "lawyers" or "legal services," or in the provincial and territorial government Blue Pages look under the headings "Justice" or "Attorney General."
Arbitration is another way, like mediation, of dealing with a dispute out of court. An arbitrator is an independent person, often a lawyer jointly chosen by the parties involved who, can hear and decide their dispute. The arbitration process is similar to a court hearing but simpler and less formal.
Public Legal Education and Information Organizations (PLEIs), which operate in each province and territory throughout Canada, provide free legal information. These organizations also distribute free pamphlets for the general public on family law, separation and divorce, and other legal topics.
Access to Justice Network is an electronic community that brings together people, information and educational resources on Canadian justice and legal issues. It includes law and justice resource materials, as well as directories on Canadian public legal education organizations, Canadian law firms, lawyers, judges and government departments. ACJNet is the only nationwide service dedicated to making law and justice resources available to all Canadians in both official languages.
Legal Aid Services - Each province and territory has Legal Aid Services, available to those who meet their financial eligibility requirements. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify for these services.
Lawyer Referral Services - In many provinces you can call the "lawyer referral service" toll- free, for the names of three lawyers in your area who might best help you with your case. Some province referal services charge a nominal fee of approximately $25.00 for the initial consultation service, while others are free of charge. Lawyers are also listed in the Yellow Pages and some indicate that they specialize in family law.
Legal Information Phone Service is a free program in some provinces that offers general legal information on a wide variety of topics. Using a touch-tone phone, callers can listen to brief tape-recorded messages in everyday language.
The Provincial/Territorial Bar Association or Law Society may provide services such as lawyer referrals and free legal information over the telephone. They can also put you in touch with the Public Legal Education and Information office and Legal Aid Office in your province or territory.
Community Legal Clinics - Some areas may have local community legal clinics. A clinic can advise you about your rights or refer you to other sources of help.
Ask for assistance. Friends, family members or your family doctor may be able to offer support and direct you to appropriate resources. Or refer to the inside cover or first few pages of the telephone book for numbers to call:
The Yellow Pages of the phone book also lists community organizations that can help. Look under a heading such as "child welfare agency," "social service agency," "mental health centre," "legal clinic" and other community service organizations that provide counselling and support to children and families.
The government Blue Pages list city and provincial services and agencies. Because the names for these services differ from place to place, look for headings such as "child and family services," "children's services," "child abuse prevention," "family violence" or "community and social services." For information about violence within the family and new resources being used to address it, you can contact The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV). The NCFV is a national resource centre for all Canadians seeking information about and solutions to violence within the family. All clearinghouse services and publications are provided free of charge throughout Canada in both official languages.
In addition to the resources provided by the NCFV, the Clearinghouse recommends two additional resources for parents:
For further information on family violence, contact:
National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Family Violence Prevention Unit
Public Health Agency of Canada
Jeanne Mance Building, 7th floor Address
Locator: 1907D1 Tunney's Pasture
Ottawa ON K1A 1B4
1-800-561-5643 or (613) 952-6396 Fax: (613) 941-8930
FaxLink: (613) 941-7285
Toll-free FaxLink: 1-888-267-1233
Did you know that...?
VIOLET: Law and Abused Women is an Internet site where you can find legal information that you may need if you are experiencing violence in an intimate relationship. This website has information on custody and divorce, and provides useful linkages to other relevant websites. There is also information on where to find a safe place or where to find assistance.
Self-help groups are non-profit organizations that provide support and information for individuals living with a variety of physical and mental health problems and stressful life situations. Many self-help groups operate in communities across Canada. For example, there may be support groups for separated and divorced parents, single parents, or parents dealing with substance abuse or physical abuse. Some of these support groups may be listed in the telephone book, but many are not.
Self-help clearinghouses exist across Canada. Their purpose is to provide information about the variety of self-help groups that meet in their city or province, and how to locate them. Some of them publish a directory. The Self-Help Resource Centre of Greater Toronto has a website (http://www.selfhelp.on.ca) with useful information on self-help centres, links and resources. The Canadian Council on Social Development also has a publication available entitled The Self-Help Way that examines numerous facets of self-help/mutual aid. You can order this book and others on self-help by contacting CCSD at (613) 236-8977 or email them at: email@example.com.
If couples are interested in pursuing marital reconciliation, they can seek guidance from self-help groups, trained therapists, mediators or health professionals. There are many websites on the Internet that contain resources, seminars and other services for couples in distress who wish to improve their marriage.
The Canadian Council on Social Development has a series of resources on marriage and relationship issues. A list of publications is available on their website or call (613) 236-8977.
This section lists a sampling of available reading, audio-visual and Internet material for families going through separation and divorce. Mental health professionals, social workers, mediators and other professionals may be useful in helping you choose the resources that best suit your needs. Specialized book stores may also be able to help. Ask them which resources they would recommend.
Parenting after Separation and Divorce
BIENENFELD, FLORENCE. 1995 (reprint). Helping Your Child Through Your Divorce. Alameda, Calif.: Hunter House, Inc.
COLOROSO, BARBARA. 1995. Kids Are Worth It! Giving Your Child the Gift of Inner Discipline. Toronto: Somerville House Publishing.
KALTER, NEIL. 1991 (Ballanti edition). Growing Up with Divorce: Helping Your Child Avoid Immediate and Later Emotional Problems. New York: The Free Press.
NEUMAN, GARY M. and ROMANOWSKI, PATRICIA. 1999. Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce: The Sandcastles Way. New York: Random House.
SCHNEIDER, MEG and ZUKERBERG, JOAN. 1996. Difficult Questions Kids Ask, and are too Afraid to Ask, About Divorce. New York: Fireside.
WALLERSTEIN, JUDITH and KELLY, JOAN. 1996 (reprint). Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope With Divorce. New York: Basic Books Inc.
WOLF, ANTHONY. 1998. "Why Did You Get a Divorce and WHEN Can I Get a Hamster": A Guide to Parenting through Divorce. New York: Noonday Press.
FISHER, ROGER and URY, WILLIAM. 1991 (2nd edition). Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. New York: Penguin Books.
GOLD, LOIS. 1996 (reprint). Between Love and Hate: A Guide to Civilized Divorce. New York: Plenum Press.
BERNSTEIN, ROBERT and WORTH, RICHARD. 1996. Divorced Dad's Handbook, 100 Questions and Answers. Tempe, Ariz.: Blue Bird Publications.
BLAU, MELINDA. 1995. Families Apart: Ten Keys to Successful Co-Parenting. New York: Perigree.
RICCI, ISOLINA. 1997 (revised edition). Mom's House, Dad's House: A Complete Guide for Parents who are Separated, Divorced or Remarried.
THOMAS, SHIRLEY. 1995. Parents are Forever, A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Successful Coparents after Divorce. Longmont, Colo.: Springboard Publications.
TILLEY, DWIGHT. 1994. Questions from Dad: A Very Cool Way to Communicate with Kids. Boston: Charles Tuttle Company, Inc.
GREENE MULFORD, PHILIPPA. 1996. Keys to Successful Step-Mothering. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
KELLEY, PATRICIA. 1995. Developing Healthy Stepfamilies, Twenty Families Tell Their Stories. New York: The Harrington Park Press.
MARSHALL, PETER. 1993. Cinderella Revisited, How to Survive a Step Family Without a Fairy Godmother. Vancouver: Whitecap Books.
WALLERSTEIN, JUDITH and BLAKESLEE, SANDRA. 1996 (revised edition). Second Chances: Men, Women, and Children a Decade After Divorce. New York: Ticknor & Fields.
BROWN, LAURENCE and BROWN, MARC. 1988 (reprint). Dinosaur's Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families. New York: Little Brown. (Ages 4-8).
CASELEY, JUDITH. 1995. Priscilla Twice. New York: Greenwillow Books. (Ages 4-8).
FIELD, MARY. 1994. My Life Turned Upside Down, but I Turned It Rightside Up. King of Prussia, Pa.: Center for Applied Psychology. (Ages 7-11).
GROLLMAN, EARL A. 1989. Talking About Divorce and Separation: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child. New York: Beacon Press. (Ages 6-8).
JENNESS, AYLETTE. 1990. Families: A Celebration of Diversity, Commitment, and Love. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. (Ages 7+)
STERN, ZOE and STERN, EVAN. 1998. Divorce is Not the End of the World: Zoe's and Evan's Coping Guide for Kids. Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed Press.
HIPP, EARL. 1995. Help for the Hard Times: Getting Through the Loss. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden.
KIMBALL, GAYLE. 1994. How to Survive Your Parents' Divorce: Kids' Advice to Kids. Chico, Calif.: Equality Press.
A good place to start looking for videos is your public library. Your public library has a catalogue of English and French videos produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB).
The NFB is a public agency that produces and distributes films and other audio-visual works that reflect Canada to Canadians and the rest of the world. They have several broad subjects and genre categories, including sub-categories that look at divorce and separation, family violence, problems in the family, violence against women, single mothers, child rearing and development. Visit their website at . In particular, we suggest:
"One Divided by Two: Kids and Divorce" is a 24-minute video produced by the NFB (1998) which focuses on 13 young people (ages 8-18) whose parents have divorced. The animated video describes the heightened feelings, dreams, hopes and memories triggered by divorcing parents, and uncovers the lyricism and humour of painful events. For ages 10 and up. You can call the NFB at 1-800-267-7710 to order the video ($39.95, order number: C9197).
The National Clearinghouse on Family Violence (NCFV) has an up-to-date catalogue, Preventing Family Violence, of Canadian videos on family violence for the general public and for professionals working in the field. The videos have been carefully reviewed by the professional staff at the NCFV to ensure that they are sensitive, useful, modern and relevant. Contact them at 1-800-267-1291. T
The Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario has recently produced a video entitled "Separate Ways." (1998). It offers insights from those who have gone through separation and divorce and from professionals who have assisted them. It also discusses dealing with emotions, the impact on children, and mediation. This video is available through local family courts and libraries in Ontario. (Available in English, French, Mandarin, Cantonese, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Polish, Somali, Spanish, Sign Language, open captioning French, open captioning English).
"Kids Talk About Divorce" is a video intended for therapeutic/educational use. Children aged 6-14 describe their struggles and successes in coping with divorce. Created by Families in Transition (Family Service Association of Toronto), the video and companion guide are available for $100. Contact Families in Transition at: 2 Carlton Street, Suite 917, Toronto, Ontario M5B 1JS, or fax 416-586-0031, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have any comments or suggestions on how this booklet could be improved?
Fax your order to: (613) 941-5366
Or mail to:
Public Health Agency of Canada
Postal locator 0913A
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0K9
Telephone: (613) 954-5995