Getting a Family Order in Saskatchewan (11 Steps)
The Court of King's Bench handles family cases in Saskatchewan.
If you have minor children, you can get orders for parenting time and decision-making authority as part of a divorce case or separately.
Getting an order is optional if you reach an agreement. If you reach an agreement during the court process, you can exit the process or skip to Step 11 to get a final court order.
The following explains what may happen during a family case. If you're searching for legal advice, consult with a lawyer or your local legal aid society.
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Step 1: Try a family dispute resolution method
Before asking the court to intervene, it's highly recommended that you attempt to reach an agreement. You'll be required to try a family dispute resolution (FDR) method later on if you do start a court case.
You can use any FDR method that suits you.
- Mediation: Parents sit down with a neutral professional who helps them communicate and get past their differences in the pursuit of an agreement.
- Arbitration: A neutral professional makes a decision for parents based on arguments and evidence as a judge would at trial.
- Collaborative law: Each parent has a lawyer to represent them in amicable negotiations, and other professionals like child therapists may contribute. If the process breaks down and parents decide to go to court, they will need to hire new lawyers.
If FDR is unsuccessful, you'll get a Certificate of Compliance from the professional. File this with the court as proof you attended.
If FDR is successful, you can keep the agreement between you and the other parent (making this your last step) or ask the court to make an order reflecting the agreement. If you want an order, jump to Step 5.
You can ask the court to waive the FDR requirement if there's family violence or concern that a parent will remove the child from the province. It is rare for a court to waive it.
Step 2: Petition for a divorce or parenting order
To start your court case, fill out a Petition (Word download) and file it with the Court of King's Bench nearest your child's residence. You will be the petitioner. The other parent will be the respondent.
Alternatively, you and the other parent can fill out a Joint Petition (Word download) together if you've already reached a parenting agreement. You will be co-petitioners, and you can skip to Step 5 after this step.
Divorce requires you to file additional forms. For an uncontested divorce, you can request a free self-help divorce kit from the government that includes all the forms. For a contested divorce, see a lawyer for the correct forms.
There's a $300 fee to file a petition for a contested divorce and a $200 filing fee to petition for any other family order. The total cost of filing paperwork for an uncontested divorce is $500.
Possible step: Apply for a without-notice order
You can file an Application Without Notice (Word download) if your child is in harm's way or the other parent is threatening to remove them from the province. Without notice means you don't initially have to let the other parent know about the application (though many people still serve them with the filed application as a courtesy).
Attach an Affidavit (Word download) to the application to explain your situation and why it qualifies as an emergency. You can file the application with your petition or anytime after.
The court will schedule a short hearing to review your application. If they determine that your situation is urgent, they will grant you an appropriate without-notice order. For example, the order may give you sole authority over child-related decisions.
If you're granted an order, you'll receive notice from the court to attend a chambers hearing (described in Step 7). You must serve this notice to the other parent so they can attend to provide their evidence. After hearing each parent out, the court can change or throw out the order.
Step 3: Serve the petition and wait for a response
An adult not involved in the case must provide the respondent with copies of your petition and any other paperwork you filed in Step 1. They'll be called the server. (If you filed a joint petition, service is not necessary.)
Afterward, the server must fill out and sign an Affidavit of Personal Service (Word download). If the respondent agrees to accept service, they can fill out an Acknowledgement of Service (Word download) instead. File either form with the court as proof of service.
Once served with a petition, the respondent has 30 days to respond if they live in Canada or the USA, or 60 days to respond if they live elsewhere. They can respond with an Answer (Word download) to state whether they agree with your claims. If they want to request orders, they should file an Answer and Counter-Petition (Word download) instead.
If the respondent agrees with what you're asking for or doesn't respond to your petition, skip to Step 5.
Step 4: Take the mandatory parenting class
Parents who haven't reached an agreement must take a Parenting After Separation or Divorce class before the court will issue a final order. You'll receive a Certificate of Attendance to file with the court after completing the course.
Many opt to take the course early on in their case as it provides important information about the court process.
If you've taken the class or a similar course within the past two years and have proof of attendance, you don't have to take it again.
Step 5: Attend a judicial case conference
At a judicial case conference (JCC), a judge checks in on your case's status.
Parents in Saskatoon and Regina must attend a judicial case conference. Only after attending can they move on to Step 6. Parents in other locations may also have a JCC.
All the forms you'll need for the JCC are in one packet compiled by the Saskatchewan courts.
To get a conference date, fill out a Request for Judicial Case Conference. Serve this form to the other parent at least three days before you file it with the court.
The other parent can reply with their own request if they have things they want to ask for. Or you can file a joint request if you both agree that a court order is necessary — even if you disagree on the terms of the order.
The judge will review your request. If the case is ready for a JCC, the parent (or parents) who requested the conference will receive a Notice of Judicial Case Conference. Serve this to the other parent at least seven days before the JCC if you requested it alone.
Two days before the JCC, each parent must file a Judicial Case Conference Appearance Memo.
During the conference, the judge will do some case management. They may ask the following questions, among others:
- What are you asking for?
- Have you tried an FDR method? If not, why? Is there a reason why you should be exempt?
- Have you taken the mandatory parenting course within the last two years?
- Have you reached an agreement? If not, is an agreement possible?
Based on the information you supply, the judge may:
- Set a chambers hearing date
- Schedule another JCC
- Ask the registrar to schedule a pretrial conference or trial
- Set dates for filing and exchanging materials (e.g., Notices of Application)
Parents will receive copies of an endorsement laying out all the orders, dates and other matters decided by the judge.
Step 6: Apply for an interim order or an order based on an agreement
You can submit an application to ask the court for an interim order or for a final order based on an agreement. You don't have to do either.
Interim orders give you arrangements for parenting, child support and more for the duration of your case. To request an interim order, fill out a Notice of Application (Word download). You can agree on the order's terms or let a judge decide.
Getting a final order based on an agreement is the only way to make a parenting agreement legally enforceable. To request one, fill out a Notice of Application for Summary Judgment (Word download).
On your Notice, write in the date and time for a chambers hearing given to you by a judge at the JCC. If you didn't attend a JCC, call your local court to find out how to get a chambers hearing date.
Fill out an Affidavit (Word download) explaining the evidence that supports why you should get the orders you're asking for. Attach your agreement if you have one. You must sign the Affidavit in the presence of a commissioner for oaths or a notary public. For a fee, a lawyer can be your witness.
Fill out a Family Chambers Appearance Memo as well.
File your forms with the court and serve a copy of both the Notice and Affidavit to the respondent at least 14 days before the hearing. This is required even if you agree on the order's terms. The memo must be served at least two days before the hearing. You'll need to file proof of service with the court (like in Step 2).
Step 7: Go to a chambers hearing
A judge hears applications at chambers hearings. You'll have one if you've applied for a without-notice order, summary judgment (an order based on an agreement) or interim order.
Arrive early to check in with the court clerk. Then, you'll wait in the courtroom with others who have cases on the docket.
Once called by the clerk, you and the other parent will go before the judge. You'll each have time to briefly explain what you're asking for and why you believe the judge should grant your request. The judge may ask questions about your claims.
The judge can issue an order at the hearing, or they may choose to make a decision later.
If you filed a Notice of Application for Summary Judgment and the judge approves your agreement, skip to Step 11.
Step 8: Participate in discovery
Discovery is the collection and exchange of documents and information in preparation for trial. It usually spans from after the JCC to a couple of weeks before trial.
Discovery may involve the questioning of witnesses outside of court (called examinations). Lawyers or parents themselves (if they don't have a lawyer) write questions for witnesses to answer in person in the presence of a court reporter.
If need be, a professional may conduct an evaluation as part of discovery.
During this time, it's expected that each side exchange settlement proposals to try to resolve the case without a trial.
Step 9: Attend a pretrial conference
A pretrial conference is a confidential meeting with a judge.
The pre-trial conference kit (PDF download) compiled by the Saskatchewan courts has all the forms you'll need to get a conference date.
Typically, parents request the conference together. If one parent refuses, wait 20 days after signing and dating the joint request form. If they still haven't signed the request, call and ask the court registrar for a conference date.
After you file your forms with the court, you'll get a conference date. You must file a Pre-Trial Brief 10 days prior to the conference.
At the conference, the judge will give their opinion on the case, including how they would rule if they were the trial judge (which they won't be). Most parents settle at this point. If settlement isn't possible, you'll prepare for trial by setting dates for filing documents, among other things. You'll get your trial dates after the conference.
As an alternative to a regular pretrial conference, parents can request a binding pretrial conference (Word download) together. If they don't reach an agreement, the judge makes a decision for them. This is a risky choice as the judge will have limited information about your claims and whether they are true.
Step 10: Go to trial
You'll go to trial if you don't reach a full agreement. A trial addresses unresolved issues in the case.
At trial, each parent or lawyer questions witnesses and presents exhibits (e.g., photos and videos) to back up their claims or refute the other parent's claims.
Trials often last three to five days but can go on longer if there are complex issues like high-value assets. Regardless, the trial is usually held on consecutive days.
The judge makes a decision on the last day of trial or sometime afterward. The judge must issue a decision within six months of the trial unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
Step 11: Get your divorce or parenting order
If the judge rules in your favor at trial or approves your agreement's terms, fill out a Draft Order (PDF Download). File this with the court for the judge to review and sign. You'll receive a copy in the mail.
Throughout your case
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Our professional sources
The following professionals helped us understand Saskatchewan family law and may be able to help you, too.
Benesh Bitz & Company
Edge Family Law
Evolve Family Law