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:​

  • Parenting After Separation Program (free)
  • Mediation (free and for a fee)
  • Collaborative family law services (for a fee)

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

For the Sake of the Children Program

For the Sake of the Children Program is a free, six-hour program divided into two three hour seminars for Manitoba parents who are dealing with the issues of separation or divorce. The sessions 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. Find out more about For the Sake of the Children.


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.

See Family Services for information about mediation and co-mediation.

Private mediators are available in Manitoba. However private mediators will charge a fee.

Contact Family Mediation Manitoba for a list of qualified mediators, or look in the yellow pages of your local telephone book 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.

Parents can apply for a child support order in either Provincial Court or Court of Queen’s Bench. It’s simpler and less expensive to get an order in Provincial Court — which is often called Family Court. Since family circumstances can change, requiring a change to your order, it is better to apply at the Provincial Court level. (However, you can only get a divorce and divide property in the Court of Queen’s Bench.  Also, The Court of Queen’s Bench (Family Division) handles all family matters in Flin Flon, Morden, Selkirk, St. Boniface, The Pas, Thompson and Winnipeg.)

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. 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.

It is also a good idea to get legal advice before going to court. For legal information, you can contact the Law Phone-In & Lawyer Referral Program. They can also refer you to a lawyer. The first consultation with the lawyer, up to half an hour, is free.

If you are on income assistance or you have a low income, you may want to contact Legal Aid Manitoba.

If you and the other parent don’t agree to a change to the original court order, one or both of you can apply to the court that made the original order, and ask the court to change (vary) it. For help with how to do that, make an appointment to see a lawyer. For legal information, you can contact the Law Phone-In & Lawyer Referral Program. They can also refer you to a lawyer. The first consultation with the lawyer, up to half an hour, is free.

If you are on income assistance or you have a low income, you may want to contact Legal Aid Manitoba.

Child Support Recalculation Service

The Child Support Recalculation Service is available for parents who want their child support order recalculated based on updated financial information. The amount of child support ordered by the court may be reviewed annually or bi-annually and changed if there is a change in the income of the person ordered to pay support.

The Recalculation Service Office will give parents information about the court application process to have an order enrolled with the service.

This service applies to recalculation of child support orders under The Family Maintenance Act in Manitoba and under the Divorce Act.