Frequently Asked Questions

I am thinking of getting a divorce/separation, what should I do?

What is family mediation?

What is the objective of family mediation and what are the advantages?

Can I ask for shared custody?

Can support payments for children be modified?

What will happen to the family home?

Are the support payments for ex-spouses payable for life?

What is included in the family patrimony?

What can be done if an ex-spouse does not respect certain parts of a judgement?

I am thinking of getting a divorce/separation, what should I do?                                             top

In Quebec, a law adopted in 1997 offers parents the possibility of receiving free services from an accredited mediator to negotiate and settle custody, visitation, child support, and so on.  Six (6) free family mediation sessions are offered to parents with children.  We suggest that you contact the Court House of your district in order to obtain more information about these services.  The sessions can help you to define the terms of your separation/divorce without resorting to long and expensive court proceedings.

You may contact the following organizations in order to obtain further information:

  • The Quebec Association of Family Mediators at 1 800 667-7559
  • Association des centres jeunesse du Québec at 514 -842-5181
  • The Québec Bar at 1 800 361-8495 ext 458
  • L’Ordre des conseillers et conseillères d’orientation et des psychoéducateurs et psychoéducatrices du Québec, at 1 800 363-2643
  • Family Mediation at the Ministry of Justice, at (418)-643-5140
  • La Chambre des Notaires du Québec at 1 800 668-2473
  • The Order of Psychologists of Québec at 1 800 363-2644
  • Montreal Courthouse, Family Mediation Services at (514)-393-2285
  • L’Ordre professionnel des travailleurs sociaux du Québec 1 888 731-9420

What is family mediation?                                                                                              top

Family mediation is a conflict resolution method in which an impartial mediator (lawyer, notary, psychologist, social worker, etc) helps the spouses negotiate a fair and viable agreement that meets the needs of each family member and that they accept of their own free will.  The mediator can meet with the parties for six (6) free sessions during which all aspects of a separation/divorce are discussed.

Family mediation provides numerous advantages. For example, it encourages cooperation and compromise and, consequently, a greater respect for the reached agreements because of the parties’ active participation in the process. Long-term benefits include a decrease in judicial proceedings, as well as a reduction of the stress felt by the entire family.

Family mediation facilitates the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Its strong point relies upon the fact that the conflicting parties are directly involved in the settlement process. Hence, the individuals do not experience the unpleasant feeling of having to submit to a judgment rendered by a third party, and this, not in the interest of a single individual, but of all the individuals concerned by the problem. As a result, all parties derive a greater satisfaction, instead of being left with an impression of loss. The mediator, by discouraging conflict, gives center stage to the actual issues. Family problems must be approached from a more humane viewpoint, by worrying about the well-being of children and by not losing sight of this aspect throughout the duration of the mediation. Furthermore, the atmosphere of cooperation that emerges from the process will be beneficial when the time comes to review the terms of the agreement, following a change in the circumstances involving the parties.

If mediation is successful and the couple agrees, the mediator will prepare a summary of the agreement. An agreement project will then be drafted and judicial procedures will be prepared so it can be accepted by the court.

What is the objective of family mediation and what are the advantages?                                                 top

The objective of family mediation is to resolve conflicts in an efficient and harmonious way between parents who are separating given that they must maintain a continuous and prolonged contact due to their parental responsibilities.

Here are the benefits of the mediation process:

  • is an alternative to the interminable quarrels that can result from a break-up;
  • goes beyond conflict and terminates the marital relationship with dignity;
  • permits dialogue that fosters better communication between former spouses;
  • permits more flexibility than the Court as regards the terms of an agreement (ex. shared custody on a monthly rather than weekly basis) given that the parties decide;
  • is more economical;
  • takes less time;
  • does not seek a guilty party;
  • involves fathers to a greater degree;
  • encourages greater compliance with agreements than in the case of court judgments;
  • promotes more regular payment of support;
  • enables the parties to learn conflict resolution skills that can be used in other areas of life (educational aspect of mediation);
  • promotes greater acceptance of the conclusions of divorce;
  • enables parents to remain parents.

Family mediation is a positive process which seeks to reduce tensions and frustrations without providing a disadvantage to the detriment of the other parent. 

Can I ask for shared custody?

Certainly.  However, you must demonstrate that it serves the best interest of the child.  Some of the criteria to consider is communication between the parties, the age of the child, where the parties live and the parent-child relationship.

Can support payments for children be modified?                                                                  top

Yes.  It is possible to modify support payments for children if it can be proven that there has been a change in the financial situation of one of the parties.   

What will happen to the family home?                                                                                        top

The family home is part of the family patrimony for couples who are married, it must therefore be shared equally between the spouses.  The house can be kept by one of the parties or it can be sold.  The spouses will share the profits of the sale of the home once all debts related to the home are paid.

Are the support payments for ex-spouses payable for life? 

Since every situation is unique, it is very difficult to provide one answer to that question.  There are a number of variables to consider such as the age of the individuals, their work experience, their education, the probability of finding employment, the situation that the spouses were in during their life together.  The younger the person is, the shorter the duration of support payments for ex-spouses will be, given that there is a greater possibility that the person will be able to find a job, unless there are other facts that will weigh into the case.

What is included in the family patrimony?                                                                                 top

The family patrimony is composed of the following property owned by one or the other of the spouses:

  • The residences of the family;
  • The movable property with which they are furnished or decorated and which serves for the use of the household;
  • The motor vehicles used for family travel;
  • The benefits accrued during the marriage under a retirement plan;
  • The registered earnings, during the marriage, of each spouse pursuant to the Act respecting the Québec Pension Plan or to similar plans.

What can be done if an ex-spouse does not respect certain parts of a judgement?                       top

If there are minor children involved, you can return to mediation for another three (3) free sessions.  In order to have a judgement or the conditions of custody revised, considerable and unpredictable changes must have taken place.  Then, it will be possible to negotiate a new agreement which will better suit the parties and which will better reflect the new reality.  However, if the spouses are unable to negotiate a new agreement, there is always the option of instituting proceedings for contempt of court.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any questions that you may have, it will be our pleasure to help you.


It is important to note that the information given above should not be considered as legal advice but is for general instructional purposes only.  Since each case involves its own particular facts, the legal remedies can vary from one case to the other.