Families in Transition (FIT) supports the well-being of children who are experiencing significant change brought on by separation/divorce of parents. Our professional staff works with families to find solutions, explore options using a variety of tools and approaches that promote the emotional well-being of children and their parents.

Fit provides service to families who live and/or work in Toronto.

At FIT we offer:

  • Specialized services for separating, divorcing and blended families
    • Individual one-on-one counselling for children or parents
    • Parent/child counselling
    • Family counselling
    • Co-parenting counselling and support
    • Support for blended families e.g. re-partnering
    • Parenting group: 6-session support group for parents
    • Children group: 6 session support group for children (ages 4 to 14)
  • Seminars/workshops for separating families
    • Helping Children Cope with Parental Separation
    • For the Children’s Sake: Reducing Post-Separation Conflict
    • Just Separating? What Kids Need
    • Rebuilding “me” after a relationship ends
    • Educational seminars

Criteria to access service at FIT

To access our services you, the parent, must  experience at least one of the following:

  • be separating or separated from the other parent
  • are in conflict with or have a challenging relationship with the other parent
  • have adjustment issues related to separation
  • have challenges in in your relationship with child(ren) after the separation
  • need knowledge/help on how to parent child(ren) in context of parental separation
  • have a new partner and you, your partner and children are having challenges with transition

Your child(ren) must experience at least one of the following:

  • difficulty adjusting to parental separation (or you anticipate that the child will have challenges adjusting to their changing family situation)
  • negative impact caused by the parental separation e.g. exposure to parental conflict, alignment with only one parent or estrangement from parent

First Steps Group

First Steps is your first step into FIT and it is compulsory for anyone who wants to receive counselling, support for child(ren) or attend the 6-weeks support groups at FIT. Participants in FIT seminars/workshops do not need to attend First Steps.

First Steps is a 2 ½ hour session shared by ten parents and led by two FIT counselors. Our goals for this session are for you to gain knowledge about factors that influence children’s adjustment to significant family change, and also to find out who we are and how our group services can help you and your family.  This first step provides a confidential interactive setting where you can learn and where you can chart your pathway through FIT’s seminars, groups, and other counselling opportunities. No children attend First Steps.

First Step sessions occur two times per month. We offer morning, afternoon and evening options.
Location: 700 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 420A
Fee: $35.00 for this appointment (Fee reductions available based on need)
Payment options: Credit cards accepted by telephone. Cash and debit card payments can only be made in person.
Registration: Call our Service Access Unit at 416-595-9618 to register for your FIRST STEPS session.

Fees

There are fees for all services at Families in Transition and fees are based on a sliding scale to ensure that persons with all income levels can access our programs. Please go to “Services” tab at the top of the page to see the description of services offered and their corresponding fees.

For appointments, registration and information contact our Service Access Unit at 416 595 9618.

Specialized services for separating, divorcing and blended families

Individual, child/parent and family counselling

Counselling services are goal-directed and time limited and include: one-on-one counselling for children or parents; parent/child counselling and family counselling.

Counselling focuses on issues such as reducing parent conflict, creating co-parenting relationships, supporting a child’s grief process, dealing with parent’s anger, sadness, and grief, fostering healthy child-parent relationships, focusing on creating a positive way forward after separation or divorce.

Staff will work with you to create a mutually agreed upon plan to address the issues that you bring to counselling.

Fees for the individual sessions are $120/session (sliding scale offered to ensure that persons with all income levels can access our programs). Family counselling fees are determined according to family size and income.

Co-parenting support and counselling

This is a specific intervention geared towards helping separated or divorced parents develop positive co-parenting strategies that enhance the physical, emotional and social well- being of children. The mandatory criterion is that parents must be open to and ready to work together. At FIT we strongly believe that parents, even those in high conflict separation and divorce, can learn how to develop a positive co-parent relationship that can help children transition from the concept of one home to two homes and eliminate or reduce a child’s exposure to harmful parental conflict.

Support for blended families e.g. re-partnering

This service is intended for parents who are re-partnering after separation or divorce and who want support in finding positive ways to help their children adjust to a new family unit. This process may include new partners, former partners and/or children.

Parenting Group

Parenting after Separation: Meeting the Challenges

In this multi session program, parents discuss parenting post separation. Participants learn practical strategies for supporting their children to manage the challenges of parental separation and divorce.

Topics include:

  • Strategies for supporting children’s adjustment to parental separation
  • Practical ways parents can minimize conflict with former partners
  • Helping children cope with loss, anger, and disappointment
  • Developing workable guidelines for c0-parenting
  • How to strengthen parent/child relationships when parents have separated

Location: 700 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 420A, located above the Lawrence Square Mall
Fees: Six week session program $210.00. Fee reductions are available based on need.
Registration: You can register only after completed your First Steps session.

Children’s Group

Coping with Life: The Children’s Group

What is it?
Coping with Life: The Children’s Group is a 6 session series of groups for children (4-14). During this program children have the opportunity to:

  • validate their feelings and get support for the challenges that come with parental separation
  • normalize the separation/divorce experience in the context of family life, and
  • develop a repertoire of coping strategies to deal with separation-related difficulties

What has to happen for children to attend?
At least one parent must register and attend a First Steps session. On completion of this session, the parent needs to request an appointment to meet with a counsellor to share concerns about the child/children and determine counselling goals and make a treatment plan. Likewise, the other parent will be invited in to meet a counsellor. Once consent is received from by both parents when there is shared decision making, arrangements are made for the child/children to be seen by a counselor to determine if the Coping with Life: the Children’s Group would be helpful to the child/children.

Coping with Life: the Children’s Group is paired with the Parenting after Separation group. These groups can be helpful for any family going through separation related transitions and provide both children and parents with support in coping with the challenges that come with parental separation.

Where: 700 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 420A, located above the Lawrence Square Mall
Fees:  $280 per child (sliding scale fees are available for families with financial difficulties and more than one child)
Registration: You can register only after completed your First Steps session.

Seminars/workshops for separating families

Who will benefit from these seminars?

Any member of separating or divorcing families who live or work in Toronto

Location: 700 Lawrence Avenue West, Suite 420A (located in the Lawrence Square Shopping Centre)
Fees: $35 per session (sliding scale offered to ensure that persons with all income levels can access our programs)
Registration: Call 416-585-9151 for additional information and to register

Helping Children Cope with Parental Separation

This seminar is intended for parents who want to learn more about responding to children’s needs when parents are living apart. During this seminar, utilizing a combination of leader presentation and group discussion, participants discuss challenges for parents and ways of responding to children’s feelings and behaviours associated with such issues as the transition between homes, missing a parent and reconciliation wishes.

Topics include:

  • Strategies for supporting children’s adjustment to parental separation
  • The influence of age and developmental stage
  • Helping children cope with loss, anger, and disappointment

This is a 2-hour educational program for parents.

Choose one of the following sessions:

  • Thursday, February 9, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 23, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 4, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 15, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

For the Children’s Sake: Reducing Post-Separation Conflict

This seminar will examine how parents can minimize the exposure of their children to conflicts between parents. During this one-session seminar, utilizing a combination of leader presentation and group discussion, participants discuss ways of reducing parental conflict and developing child centred guidelines for co-parenting.

Topics include:

  • A children’s perspective on parental conflict
  • Practical ways parents can minimize conflict with former partners
  • Ways of supporting children affected by parental conflict
  • Workable guidelines for co-parenting

This is a 2-hour educational program for parents.

Choose one of the following sessions:

  • Friday, March 3, 2017 | 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • Monday, May 8, 2017 | 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Monday, July 10, 2017 | 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Just Separating? What Kids Need

This seminar is intended for parents who have made the decision to separate and are still in the first stage of the separation process. Parents may be living in separate residences or under the same roof. During this seminar, utilizing a combination of leader presentation and group discussion, participants learn ways to talk with children about their parents’ decision to separate, and how to minimize the stress that parents and children experience.

Topics include:

  • Children’s need for a separation story
  • The Do’s and Don’ts for parents
  • Balancing your needs with your children’s needs
  • Resources that will support positive adjustment

This is a 2-hour educational program for parents.

Choose one of the following sessions:

  • Tuesday, February 28, 2017 | 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017 | 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, May 30, 2017 | 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Rebuilding “me” after a relationship ends

Cultivating a resilient spirit through the process of separation:  moving on from the strong emotions of your break up (bitterness, anger, grief, loss)
When relationships end there is: disappointment, sadness, and anger, particularly if one parent feels betrayed or rejected. In this single session seminar, participants discuss the impact of these feelings and the factors that help parents look to the future and influence one’s ability to move on. By doing this, parents free up enabling them to be more present and sensitive to their children’s needs and stop functioning on the auto-pilot mode that the demanding task of separation imposes on them. Discussion focuses on the steps involved in getting past your breakup to acceptance.

Topics Include:

  • The impact of living with pain and anger
  • Is there a role for forgiveness?
  • Acceptance as an alternative to forgiveness
  • Practical strategies to cultivate resilience

This is a 2-hour educational program.

Choose one of the following sessions:

  • Thursday, February 23, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 20, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 8, 2017 | 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Other  information

  • Pre-registration ensures you are accommodated
  • Seminar fees are non-refundable
  • Seminar staff have post-graduate training and are experienced counsellors
  • Location is wheelchair accessible
  • We are committed to an equity inclusion approach to service delivery

How does FIT help changing families?

FIT services are designed to help children adjust to parental separation, divorce, and remarriage. Programming focuses on the issues that have significant impact on children whose parents live apart. These include:

  • Reducing parent conflict
  • Building effective parenting partnerships
  • Supporting children’s grieving
  • Developing strong parent-child relationships
  • Successful step-parentin

Who should come to FIT?

Any member of a separating, divorcing, or blended family can benefit from FIT services. They are available to people living or working in Toronto.  . Services are provided in English, French, Tagalog and Spanish.

Do we need to be living apart before I call FIT?

No. Research demonstrates that early support is important in helping parents plan how to care for children when they no longer live together. Parents who are already living apart learn about ways to help children adjust to the changing family circumstances.

We already have lawyers, can FIT still be helpful?

FIT is a voluntary non-profit social service agency. We are not connected to the courts. Our services supplement assistance you may be receiving from lawyers or the court. We do not get involved in court proceedings. When you first see us, we will ask you to sign a document that you understand and agree to this.

Can I contact FIT directly?

Yes, the voluntary nature of our service means that parents must call us to request service. We will not accept referrals from other third parties such as lawyers, the courts, other service providers etc.

FIT has a lot of programs. What else does FIT offer?

We offer a variety of groups for children and parents. In addition, we provide individual and family counselling and  educational seminars addressing the questions parents most commonly ask.

Do both parents have to be involved?

FIT staff work with the parent who contacts us. However, there is more we can do to help children when both parents work with us. We will talk with you about how we might involve the other parent because research demonstrates that interventions are more effective when both parents work with us. If one parent is unavailable, we will continue to help the parent who calls us.

What age of children does FIT serve?

We usually provide direct service for children 4 tp 18 years. If the child is younger than 4 years, we typically work with the parents. Youth 12 years and older may request service on their own.

What is FIT’s position on parenting plans?

We do not take sides in disputes between parents. Our work is directed to determining what each individual child needs and ways of supporting their adjustment to the changing family. We help parents resolve differences and develop solutions that support child adjustment. A successful parenting plan reflects the needs of the child and the strengths and resources of each parent. It recognizes the child’s needs, and therefore the plan may change over time.

We are in court litigating. Can I still come to FIT?

We encourage parents to come for a consultation and talk with the counsellor about what the next steps for your family might be. FIT may or may not be the right place for you. Please refer to the section below on confidentiality.

Will FIT provide a report to the court about the work I do at FIT?

We do not provide reports to the court, even if you are attending FIT at the direction of the court. If you require such a report, you will need to  seek service elsewhere.

How do you know FIT programs are effective?

FIT conducted two major research studies that document the effectiveness of our services. Our most recent study demonstrated that positive outcomes for children are more likely when:

  • They have an opportunity to grieve the loss they experience when parents part
  • Mothers and fathers learn specific strategies for supporting children
  • Help is available early in the separation process
  • Parenting partnerships are characterized by effective communication and conflict resolutio

Are FIT services confidential?

Yes. Your written permission is required for us to exchange information with any other person, except in specific circumstances where we are legally required to break confidentiality. For information about Family Service Toronto’s Privacy Policy follow this link

Why does FIT not prepare reports for the court or other organizations?

In order for children and parents to trust that we will remain neutral and unbiased, we do not provide reports for court or other organizations your family may be involved with.

Does FIT determine fitness to parent and parenting capacity?

No, this is not part of the services provided by FIT staff. If you are searching for this service, you will need to contact a private practitioner who does this type of work.

How long will I wait for service?

Group programs are scheduled throughout the year. It is important to check our website on a frequent basis. There may be a wait for an individual appointment. Our staff will also direct you to seminars that will be available while you are waiting for an individual appointment. Many parents find our seminars provide them with the information they require.

Are there fees for service?

Yes, we charge a fee for or services. Fees are determined according to your income and family size. Many of our group programs have set fees. Individual and family counseling is based on an hourly fee. We are able to reduce our fees below your assessed fee when need is demonstrated. Private insurance through your employer or another group plan may cover some or all of our fees.

Where is the FIT office?

We are located in the Lawrence Square Mall, at Lawrence Avenue West, just west of the Allen Road. The Lawrence West Subway Station on the Yonge-University-Spadina line is across the road. Three hours of free surface parking is available at all times surrounding the stores in the mall. Group programs operate from this central location. With advance notice, many of our educational programs can be offered from other locations in the community. Contact the FIT office at 416 595 9618 to discuss specific requests to provide programs elsewhere in the community.

Parents Are Forever

A publication developed by the Los Angeles Family Court for the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. It provides information about practical strategies parents can implement to in relation to these critical post-separation tasks.

Brochures are available  in the following languages:

Online Divorce Related Links

The following list outlines websites that contain publications of interest for separating, divorcing, and blending families. Examples of publications from each website are noted in bullets. Please access websites for full publication listings.

  • Family Law Publications, including:
    • What Happens Next? Information for kids About Separation and Divorce
    • Making plans: A guide to parenting arrangements after separation or divorce
    • The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step
  • Dispute Prevention and Resolution Publications, including:
    • Resolving Disputes – Think About Your Options
  • Divorce and Separation Publications, including:
    • What You Should Know about Family Law in Ontario (available in 9 languages)
    • Getting Divorced (Community Legal Education Ontario)
    • Family Law Information Program (Legal Aid Ontario)
    • Where do I stand? A child’s guide to separation and divorce
  • Community Legal Education Ontario Publications, including:
    • An Introduction to Family Law in Ontario
    • Separation and Divorce: Child Custody, Access, and Parenting Plans
    • Separation and Divorce: Child Support
  • Family Law Education for Women Publications, including:
    • Alternative Dispute Resolution
    • Child Custody and Access
    • Child Protection and Family Law
    • How Property is Divided in Family Law
  • Support Payments 2015
    • Tax rules for spousal support or child support payments made and received under a court order or written agreement
  • Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development Bulletins or Other Publications, including:
    • Volume 6, No. 1 – March 2007 – The most important thing parents do.
    • Responding to Children’s Needs: Important Developmental Milestones in Young Children

Relevant Family Law Legislation and Reports

Government of Canada

  • Best Interests of the Child Standard – Proposed Federal Divorce Act Factor List Bill c-245, 37th parliament, second session
  • For the Sake of the Children – Report of the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Child Custody and Access, December 1998
  • Custody, Access and Child Support in Canada – Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations, Fall 2001
  • Bill-C-22 An Act to Amend the Divorce Act – 1st Reading December 2002; 2nd Reading February 2003

Department of Justice

  • Divorce Act
  • Government of Canada’s Response to the Report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access, May 1999
  • Custody, Access and Child Support in Canada – Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations, Fall 2001
  • Report on Youth Consultations – Appendix A in Report on Federal-Provincial-Territorial Consultations, Fall 2001
  • Minister of Justice’s report to parliament Children Come First; April 29, 2002
  • A Child-Centred Family Justice Strategy, Department of Justice Press Release, December 2002
    Final Federal-Provincial-Territorial Report on Child Custody and Access and Child Support, November 2002

Government of Ontario

  • Children’s Law Reform Act
  • Child and Family Services Act
  • Family Law Act

Families in Transition is offered at the following location(s):

Programs and Services

Close
Programmes en Français
Appointments and Frequently Asked Questions
Campaign 2000
Connecting Families
Counselling
DKS LGBTQ+ Counselling HIV/AIDS
Families in Transition
Growing Up Healthy Downtown
Healthy Families. Healthy Communities
Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse
Options
Partner Assault Response
Partner Contact
Passport
Pat’s Place
Person Directed Planning
Seniors and Caregivers
Seniors Community Connections
Social Action and Community Building
Substance Abuse Professional Services
Violence Against Women
Walk-In Counselling