A Guide to
Inside this Guide
Information before You Start
2 Starting a Family Case
Simple Application Divorce only
4 Financial Statements
5 Filing Documents
6 Serving Documents
7 Required Steps
First Court Date
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PART 7: REQUIRED STEPS
There are several steps that you will need to take before a judge can make a
final decision in your family case. Many of these steps encourage you and the
other party to try and settle as many of the issues as possible early on, so that
you do not to have a trial. A trial can take a long time and may be a very difficult
and expensive experience for you and your family.
The Family Law Rules provide you and the other party with opportunities to settle
at events called case conferences, settlement conferences and trial management
conferences. You and the other party can always decide to settle on your own,
even after a family case has started. It is not necessary to wait for a conference
to try to resolve your issues.
First Court Date
In some cases at the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice and
for all cases at the Ontario Court of Justice, the first step may be a first court
date. Court staff schedules the first court date and the date and time of the first
court date is set out on the application.
The first court date often begins as a meeting with the court clerk, who will
ensure that each party to the case, and any other person or agency required to
be served, was served with a copy of the relevant forms and documents. The
clerk also ensures that all required forms and documents have been filed with the
For all other cases at the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice
and the Superior Court of Justice where a first court date is not required, one of
the parties will need to ask the clerk to schedule a case conference for the case
to proceed. It is important to remember that unlike a first court date where it is
court staff that will automatically schedule a first court date, for case conferences,
it is you that must ask court staff to schedule a case conference
The first time you will speak to a judge about the issues in your case is called a
All the parties named in the family case must go to the case conference. If you
have a lawyer, your lawyer must attend the conference with you.
A case conference can be held in a courtroom or in a less formal space in the
courthouse, like a conference room or the judge's office. A case conference can
also be held by telephone or videoconference, with the permission of the judge.
When you get to court on the day of your case conference, you can check for
your name and court file number on a case event list which will be posted outside
a courtroom to see where the conference will be held, or you may ask court staff.
A case conference is held so that you and the other party can meet with a judge
Discuss the chances of settling your case;
Identify the issues that you and the other party cannot resolve;
Determine if you and the other party have disclosed all relevant
information that is required to settle the issues; and
Set a date for the next step in the case.
The judge can make certain orders at a case conference, including:
An order requiring one or both parties to provide the other with certain
documents, like business financial statements or proof of business
An order that one or both parties be allowed to ask the other questions
about the evidence they have filed with the court;
An order identifying next steps to be taken in the case;
If both parties agree, an order that they participate in an alternative form of
dispute resolution, like mediation; or
An order based on the agreement of the parties.
The judge can also make other orders where a party has served the other party
with notice of the request and the judge agrees that the order should be made.
A case conference can be scheduled by:
The clerk at a first court date (if applicable);
One of the parties asking the clerk to schedule a case conference; or
The judge, if it considers it appropriate.
At least one case conference must be held in each family case. There may be
more, if you or the other party requests a case conference or if the judge orders
In addition to case conferences, you may also ask for, or the judge may order, a
settlement conference and/or a trial management conference.
Settlement Conference or Trial Management Conference
At a settlement conference, the judge focuses on how the issues in dispute may
be resolved and which issues may be settled without further court attendances.
Trial management conferences are in place to ensure that the parties are ready
to proceed with their case once a trial date is set. At a trial management
conference, each party must provide the court with information about how they
intend to present their case at trial, including the witnesses they intend to bring
and how long the party expects that it will take to put his or her evidence before
Steps to Schedule a Case Conference at Family Court
Step 1: Identifying the Forms You Need for a Case Conference
You will need:
Form 17: Conference Notice; and
Form 17A: Case Conference Brief (General).
You will also need:
Form 6B: Affidavit of Service;
A copy of the Cumulative Table of Contents; and
Form 14C: Confirmation.
If your financial statement is more than 30 days old, you will also need to update
your financial information before the case conference date by serving and filing
A new financial statement (Form 13 or Form 13.1) if any major
changes to your existing financial statement are required;
An affidavit (Form 14) that sets out any minor changes that should be
An affidavit (Form 14) saying that the information you provided in the
last financial statement has not changed and is still true.
All of the court forms you will need for a case conference are available at the
family court office or on-line at www.ontariocourt forms.on.ca . Read and follow
the instructions on the forms carefully.
Step 2: Completing the Forms
You can obtain and fill in most of the court forms you will need on-line. The
Ministry of the Attorney General has developed the Ontario Court Forms
Assistant to help you to complete family court forms on-line. Once you select a
form, you will answer a series of questions. The Assistant will use your answers
to create the court form. You can print and save your forms and take them to the
courthouse to be filed. Visit www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca list of the family court
forms and instructions on how to use the program.
You may also print the forms from the website and complete them by hand.
Forms are also available at the family court office. If you handwrite the
information, make sure it is clear so that the other party and the judge can read it.
Court staff cannot fill in the forms for you.
Once you have completed the forms, you will need the original form(s) to file with
the court, together with one copy for each of the following:
Your copy of the continuing record;
You to serve on each party to the case; and
You to serve on any other person or agency required to be served.
If a case conference has not already been scheduled, you must attend court to
obtain a case conference date. Once the clerk has scheduled the case
conference, he or she will also sign and date the conference notice.
Step 3: Serving the Forms
You will need to serve every party named in the case with a copy of the
conference notice and all the documents you want the judge to consider.
If you are the one that requested the case conference, you must serve and file
your case conference brief and any other supporting documents at least seven
days before the case conference date is scheduled to be heard to allow the
other party enough time to prepare and also serve you with their case conference
brief before the case conference date.
If you are the party served with the notice of case conference and case
conference brief, you must serve and file your case conference brief and any
other supporting documents no later than four days before the scheduled case
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