Families Change Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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What if we don’t agree on the amount of child support?

If you cannot come to an agreement on your own, the following services may be able to help you:

If even after trying these services you still can’t reach an agreement, you will have to go to court.

Family Justice Services

Family Justice Services is a division of the Department of Justice and Public Safety that assists families with custody, access, and child support issues in the province.

All services provided by Family Justice Services are free. These services include parent education sessions on family law and parenting after separation, counselling for families dealing with family law issues, mediation services for parents trying to reach an agreement on child support or custody and access issues outside of court, and recalculation of child support.

To access the programs and services offered by Family Justice Services, you can complete a Request for Family Justice Services form, found here.

You can also contact your local Family Justice Services office, at the following locations and numbers:

Avalon Region

  • St. John’s – 729-1183
  • Carbonear – 945-3223

Central Region

  • Clarenville – 466-4036
  • Marystown – 891-4137
  • Gander – 256-1205
  • Grand Falls-Windsor – 292-1194
  • Lewisporte – 535-6266
  • Springdale- 673-2628

Western Region

  • Corner Brook – 634-4174
  • Stephenville – 643-8396

Labrador Region

  • Labrador City – 944-3209
  • Happy Valley-Goose Bay – 896-7904

Parent Education Sessions

Parent Education Sessions are free information session for parents in Newfoundland and Labrador who are dealing with the issues of separation, including child support and custody and access issues. These session are intended to help parents make careful and informed decisions about their separation and any conflicts that may result from it and to ensure that these decisions take into account the best interests of their children. For more information about the Parent Education Sessions, contact your local Family Justice Services office, which can be found here.


In mediation, you and the other parent will work with someone who is specially trained to help you reach an agreement. A mediator will:

  • Provide a neutral place for you and the other parent to meet
  • Help define the issues you need to resolve
  • Keep the discussions on track
  • Help you maintain a working relationship with the other parent

A mediator will not make decisions for you, but can help you and the other parent communicate with each other about all of the issues involved in your separation. Both parents also have to agree to mediation for it to work.

Mediation gives you more control over what happens. It allows for more creative and flexible arrangements that suit your particular circumstances. If you go to court, the judge will decide for you, using the limited range of options available under a court order.

People who use mediation are usually more satisfied with the outcome than those who don’t. This means they are more likely to follow the terms of the agreement.

It is informal and private. While a lawyer can attend mediation with you, there is usually no one else there but you, the other parent, and the mediator. No one else has to know the details of your agreement.

Family Justice Services may be able to provide a mediator to assist in coming to an agreement about child support and custody and access issues. Contact your local Family Justice Services office at the numbers found here to find out more.

Private mediators are available in many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. However private mediators will charge a fee. You can most easily find private mediators by looking in the local Yellow Pages under “Mediators”.

If you have to go to court

It is a lot less stressful if parents can work out a child support agreement on their own, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes court is the only option left available to ensure that children get the financial support they need when their parents separate.

In many parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, applications dealing with child support, spousal support, and custody and access may be made at either Provincial Court or Supreme Court, Trial Division. However, application for divorce or the division of matrimonial property may only be made at the Supreme Court, Trial Division.

On the Avalon Peninsula (including the St. John’s area) and on most of the west coast of Newfoundland (including Corner Brook), all family law matters are exclusively heard at the Supreme Court, Family Division.

St. John’s – Unified Family Court:
21 King’s Bridge Road
St. John’s, NL
A1C 3K4
Telephone: 709-729-2258
Fax: 709-729-0784
E-mail: FamilyInquiries@Supreme.Court.nl.ca

Corner Brook – Courthouse:
82 Mt. Bernard Avenue
P.O. Box 2006
Corner Brook, NL
A2H 6J8
Registry: (709) 637-2250
Facsimile: (709) 637-8036
E-mail: inquiries@supreme.court.nl.ca

For child support matters, the paying parent will be required by the court to provide proof of their present income, together with their recent income tax returns, and other financial documents that may be important. In most cases, such as when the parents are paying for special or extraordinary expenses, or when the parenting arrangement is shared, the receiving parent will also be required to provide financial documents.

The judge will make a child support order based on the Child Support Guidelines in almost all cases. The judge will make a decision about how much child support should be paid, who should pay it, and how often. Parents have to obey court orders.

Family Justice Services can give you information about going to court. It is also a good idea to consult with a lawyer before going to court, even if you do not hire one to represent you. The Public Legal Information Association of NL (PLIAN) can provide referrals to lawyers practicing in family law who will provide an initial 30-minute consultation at a flat rate of $40 (taxes included). PLIAN can be contacted toll-free at 1-888-660-7788 or by email at info@publiclegalinfo.com.

The Legal Aid Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador also has lawyers to represent people in certain family law cases, if they qualify financially. More information on determining if you are eligible for Legal Aid representation can be found here.

More information on applying for Legal Aid can be found here, or by calling your local Legal Aid office.

What if a parent doesn’t pay child support?

Support Enforcement Program

The Support Enforcement Program is a division of the Department of Justice and Public Safety that performs various services related to the collection and distribution of child support and other court ordered support.

The Support Enforcement Program registers support orders from the province as well as incoming support orders from other provinces and countries for enforcement in Newfoundland and Labrador. As well, the Support Enforcement Program receives and disburses court-ordered support funds and can initiate various collection actions when support orders are not followed. These collection actions may include garnishment of wages, seizure and sale of assets, or even garnishment of pensions.

More information on the Support Enforcement Program can be found at their website.

The Support Enforcement Program can also be contacted by phone at: 709-637-2608.

Balance and payment inquiries can also be made by calling 709-729-3295 or 1-800- 563-5330 (Canada wide).