A judge schedules a trial management conference when they think you and your partner can't resolve your issues and your case has to go to trial.
The goal of a trial management conference is to get you and your partner ready for your trial and to try one last time to settle the case.
Rule 17: Conferences tells you what you need to do to prepare for your trial management conference and what happens at one.
Fill out your forms
In the Ontario Court of Justice, you fill out Form 17E: Trial Management Conference Brief. This form asks for some of the same information as the earlier briefs you filled out for your case conference and settlement conference.
In the Superior Court of Justice and the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice, you must file:
- your completed Part 1 and Part 2 Trial Scheduling Endorsement Form
- an Offer to Settle
- a draft of your opening statement that you will present at trial
In both the trial management conference brief and the trial scheduling endorsement form, you have to tell the judge:
- who you plan to call as witnesses
- what issues your witnesses will speak about
- how long you think each witness will take
You also have to answer some procedural questions like:
- do you and your partner agree on the facts of your case
- have you and your partner shared all relevant documents
And you have to give the court updated financial statements. See Update your financial statements below to find out what you have to do.
Make copies of your completed documents for you and your partner.
Serve and file your forms
You must serve your partner with a copy of your documents and an updated table of contents at least 7 days before the date of your trial management conference. You serve them by regular service or special service. Serve your documents below explains how to do this.
See Count time below to understand how to calculate days or time correctly. This is important because court staff may not accept your documents if you haven't followed the rules.
You need to go back to the courthouse once your partner has been served, to file your documents, including Form 6B: Affidavit of Service, in the Continuing Record. Update your continuing record below explains how to add documents in your court file.
Confirm your court date
You have to tell the court that you will be at your trial management conference. Confirm your court date below explains how to do this.
If you need an interpreter or any special arrangement because of a disability, see Ask for a special arrangement below.
If you or any of your witnesses need an interpreter or any special arrangement because of a disability, you can ask for this at any stage in the court process.
You can speak with any staff member at court about what you need or you can contact the Accessibility Coordinator at the court where your case, motion, or trial is being held. More information on accessibility at Ontario’s courts is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.
You must confirm your court date by 2 p.m., at least 2 days before your scheduled hearing. To do this, you must fill out and file Form 14C: Confirmation. This form tells the court that you’ll be at your hearing, what specific issues will be discussed at it, and what documents the judge should read. You can file the form in person at the courthouse or by fax.
Your partner also has to fill and file this form to confirm they will be at the hearing.
If you do not file your confirmation form in time, the hearing will not be held and you will have to get a new date.
Rule 3: Time tells you how to count time or days.
You must follow court rules that say the day by which you have to:
- serve your partner, or other people or agencies, with your documents
- file your documents with the court
- confirm your court dates
When you serve your documents, counting starts on the day after the “effective” service day. The effective service day depends on how you served the documents. If you served them:
- personally - service is effective the same day
- by mail - service is effective 5 days after the documents are mailed
- by courier - service is effective the day after the courier picks it up
- by fax - service is effective the day it is faxed as long as it is faxed before 4 p.m. on a day when the court is open
- at your partner’s home with anyone who seems to be an adult and then mailed to that address - service is effective 5 days after the documents are mailed
For example, suppose your partner has to get your documents at least 7 days before the date of your motion. If you serve them personally on Monday, the first day you count is Tuesday and the 7th day is the following Monday.
If the last day is a holiday, the time period ends on the next day that is not a holiday.
But if you have less than 7 days to serve or file your documents or to confirm your court date, then Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when court offices are closed are not counted.
Counting time or days is important because court staff won’t accept your documents if you have not followed the rules.
Rule 6: Service of documents tells you how to serve your partner and any other people or agencies you have to serve.
Documents can be served in 2 ways – by special service or by regular service. The Family Law Rules tell you which way you have to serve your documents at each step in the court process.
You can usually serve your partner yourself, or get a family member or friend who is at least 18 years old or a professional process server to do it for you.
To serve your documents by special service means you, a family member or friend who is at least 18 years old or a professional process server must do one of the following:
- give a copy to your partner directly, but you can't be the one to do this
- leave a copy with your partner’s lawyer
- mail a copy to your partner, but your partner must send back a special form to confirm they received the document
- leave a copy in an envelope addressed to your partner at your partner’s home with any adult living with your partner, and then mail a copy of the documents to that address within one day
Special service is usually used for documents that start the case or documents that could lead to the person being served going to jail.
To serve your documents by regular service means you, a family member or friend who is at least 18 years old or a professional process server, must do one of the following:
- mail a copy to your partner or their lawyer
- courier a copy to your partner or their lawyer
- fax a copy to your partner or their lawyer
- serve a copy by special service
The following documents can only be served by special service:
- an Application
- a motion to change
- a summons to witness
- a notice of contempt motion
- a notice of motion or notice of default hearing where the person to be served faces a possibility of jail
6B: Affidavit of Service
After your documents are served, you, or whoever served the documents, must fill out Form 6B: Affidavit of Service. This can be done at the court counter, with the help of the court clerk.
Form 6B asks for:
- the name of the person who served the documents
- the name of the person or agency that was served
- when the documents were served (day, month, and year)
- where the documents were served (house number, apartment number, street name, city, and province)
- what documents were served (Application, Answer, Reply, notice of motion)
- how the documents were served (personally, at place of residence, by regular mail, courier, or fax)
This form must be sworn or affirmed. This means the person signing it is promising that the information in it is true. It is against the law to not tell the truth when swearing or affirming an affidavit.
Form 6B proves that your partner got a copy of your documents and knows that they have to respond to them.
More information on serving documents can be found in the Ministry of Attorney General’s A Guide to Family Procedures, Part 6: Serving Documents.
If you fear for your safety or the safety of any friend or family member when serving documents, you can ask the court staff to arrange for your documents to be served.
Rule 9: Continuing Record tells you what a continuing record is and what documents you put into it.
The continuing record has every document you and your partner want the court to look at. It is kept in the court file at the courthouse.
The continuing record has 2 parts:
1. The endorsement volume has all the endorsements and court orders a judge makes in your case.
2. The documents volume has all the documents filed in your case by you and your partner. This includes Applications, Answers, Replies, affidavits of service, financial statements, motions, affidavits, and trial management conference briefs. It does not include the case conference brief or the settlement conference brief.
If you are the applicant, you start the continuing record and keep adding your documents to it. If you don’t have a lawyer, court staff can help you start it and help you add your documents to it.
If you are the respondent you add your documents to the continuing record your partner started. If you don’t have a lawyer, court staff can help you add your documents to it.
When you add a document to the continuing record, you also have to update the table of contents by listing each document you’re filing.
Make sure you keep a copy of every document you and your partner fill out. This allows you to keep track of your case yourself. You won’t have to go to the court to ask the court clerk to get your court file if you need to check something.
More information on the continuing record can be found in the Ministry of Attorney General’s A Guide to Family Procedures, Part 5: Filing Documents.
Rule 13: Financial disclosure tells you what a financial statement is, when you need one, and how to fill it out.
If your financial statement is more than 30 days old at the time you have to file or serve your papers at any stage in the court process, you have to fill out, serve, and file one of the following:
- A new Form 13: Financial Statement or Form 13.1: Financial Statement, if there has been a major change to your financial situation.
- A Form 14A: Affidavit, if there is no change or only minor changes to the last financial statement you filed. You must include details on all the changes
You also have to fill out Form 13A: Certificate of Financial Disclosure. In it you list all the documents that prove why you’re asking for child support, spousal support, or to divide property. You must attach copies of all these documents.
For example, you can include copies of your pay stubs, recent tax returns, and notices of assessment. If you don’t have a copy of your notices of assessment, you can get a copy of your income and deductions statement from Canada Revenue Agency by calling 1-800-959-8281.