The first time you and your partner speak with a judge about your case is at a case conference. At a case conference, you and your partner (and your lawyers if you have them) meet with a judge to discuss and try and agree on your issues.
The goal of a case conference is to get you and your partner to agree on some or all of your issues without going to a motion or a trial.
Rule 17: Conferences tells you what you need to do to prepare for your case conference and what happens at one.
Your partner has to serve you with the following documents at least 6 days before your case conference:
If your partner’s financial statement is more than 30 days old at the time of your conference, you will also be served with one of the following documents:
- Form 13: Financial Statement or Form 13.1: Financial Statement, if there have been major changes to their financial situation.
- Form 14A: Affidavit, if there is no change or only minor changes to the last financial statement they filed. Your partner has to include details of these changes on the form.
Fill out your forms
You also have to fill out your own Form 17A: Case Conference Brief. In it you:
- give some information about your family
- give details about your financial situation
- list the issues you and your partner agree on
- list the issues you and your partner don’t agree on
- list the issues you want to talk about at the conference and include facts you think the judge needs to know
- include your ideas on how you and your partner can agree on the issues
If there are procedural issues, you list them for the judge in your case conference brief. For example, the judge can set a schedule or timetable for the next steps before trial and set dates by when you and your partner have to share documents.
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 at least 4 days before the date of your case conference. 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.
After you serve your partner, you must file your documents and Form 6B: Affidavit of Service with the court. This means they’re added to your court file. You must do this at least 4 days before the conference date.
You can file your forms and documents with the court online or in person. File your court forms and documents below explains how to do this.
Your case conference brief is added to your court file and not to the continuing record. It goes in your court file so the judge can read it before your conference. It's given back to you after your case conference is over. This is because discussions at a case conference are private and can't be shared with another judge.
Confirm your court date
You have to tell the court that you will be at your case 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.
<p>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.</p>
<p>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 how Ontario’s courts can be more accessible is available on the <a href="http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/about/commitment_to_acc... of the Attorney General’s website</a>.</p>
<p>You must confirm your court date by <strong>2 p.m.</strong>, at least <strong>3 days</strong> before your scheduled hearing. To confirm a court date, you must fill out and file <a href="http://www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/forms/family/14c/FLR_14C_Sept105_ODA.... target="_blank">Form 14C: Confirmation</a>. To confirm a conference date, you must fill out and file <a href="http://ontariocourtforms.on.ca/static/media/uploads/courtforms/family/17... target="_blank">Form 17F: Confirmation of Conference</a>.</p>
<p>These forms tell 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.</p>
<p>You must give your partner a copy of the form <b>before</b> you give it to the court. </p>
<p>If you don't file your confirmation form in time, the hearing may not be held and you will have to get a new date.</p>
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 or email - service is effective the day it’s faxed or emailed as long as it’s sent 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 1.1 tells you how to file and issue your family law court forms and documents online. You can file your documents online or in person at the court. Depending on your family law issue and the court, you might also be able to file by email. Check the Family Law Rules and the court's orders, Notices and Practice Directions. Or call the court for more information.
Rule 1.2 says before you file your documents, you must remove or black out all financial account numbers and certain personal information, such as:
- social insurance numbers
- bank account numbers
- credit card numbers
- account numbers for mortgages, lines of credit, and other loans
You must keep the original documents that show this information.
A judge might ask to see it.
You can now file most family law forms and supporting documents online for a family court case in the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice. But you cannot file forms and documents online:
- to request an urgent hearing
- for a court date that's 5 business days or less away
- to meet a filing deadline that's 5 business days or less away
To file online, your court forms and supporting documents must be filled out, signed, and dated. Some forms and documents may need to be sworn or affirmed. If they do, it means you must swear or affirm that the information in your form is true before you sign it. You do this in front of a notary public or commissioner for taking affidavits. This person also signs and dates the form.
Your forms and documents must then be scanned and saved as PDF documents.
If your documents are not in English or French, you need a certified translation. This must also be scanned and saved as a PDF. You can find a translator through the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario.
To file your court forms and supporting documents online, go to ontario.ca/familyclaims. You will need a ONe-key ID. To create this key you need an email address and have to set up a username and password.
Make sure you have everything ready before you start filing online. Once you've started, your session ends if you're inactive for 15 minutes. Your information won't be saved. You will need to start over again.
After you submit your court forms and documents online, you cannot view them online later. So it's important to keep a copy of everything for your records.
You must also pay your court fees online. If you can't afford to pay the court fees, you can ask for a fee waiver certificate online so that you don't have to pay most court fees.
See the question ‘How do I file court forms for my family law case online’ on Steps to Justice for more information.
After you file your forms and documents online, you get an email to confirm that your documents have been submitted, but not yet filed with the court. Don't delete the email. You should also print a copy or take a screenshot for your records.
Within 5 business days you find out if your documents have been accepted or rejected. If your documents are:
- accepted, you get an email confirming your documents have been filed
- rejected, you get an email saying your documents haven't been filed, the reasons why they were rejected, and that any fees you paid will be refunded
If your documents are rejected, you can either:
- correct or fix all the things that led to your documents being rejected and then refile online if the deadline to submit them is more than 5 business days away, or
- file your documents in-person or, if allowed by the court, by email
If you don't hear from the court within 5 days, check with them to make sure your documents were submitted successfully.
If you have any questions about your specific case, call the family court in your municipality.
File in person
If you're not allowed to, or don't want to file your documents online, you can file them in person at the courthouse. To submit in person, take 3 copies of your court forms and documents to court.
If you're not which court to go to, you can call the family court in your municipality to ask.
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
- 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
- email 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 (the complete address)
- what documents were served (Application, Answer, Reply, notice of motion)
- how the documents were served (in person, at place of residence, by regular mail, courier, fax, or email)
You must swear or affirm that the information in your form is true before you sign it. You do this in front of a notary public or commissioner for taking affidavits. This person also signs and dates the form.
You can be charged with committing a crime if you don't tell the truth.
You can find a commissioner at any family court and they will sign your form for free. You can also find them at certain ServiceOntario centres. Other people can also do this, for example, a lawyer, notary public, judge, or paralegal. But they may charge you a fee.
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.
<p><a href="http://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/990114" target="_blank">Rule 9: Continuing Record</a> tells you what a continuing record is and what documents you put into it.</p>
<p>The continuing record has every document you and your partner want the court to look at. It’s is kept in the court file at the courthouse.</p>
<p>The continuing record has 2 parts:</p>
<li>The endorsement volume has all the endorsements and court orders a judge makes in your case.</li>
<li>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.</li>
<p>If you’re 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.</li>
<p>If you’re 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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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 href="http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/family/guides/fc/2010_f... target="_blank">A Guide to Family Procedures, Part 5: Filing Documents</a>.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/990114"target="_blank">Rule 13: Financial disclosure</a> tells you what a financial statement is, when you need one, and how to fill it out.</p>
<p>If your financial statement is more than 30 days old at the time you have to file or serve it at any stage in the court process, you have to fill out, [glossary:3247]serve[/glossary], and [glossary:3250]file[/glossary] <strong>one</strong> of the following:
<ul><li>A new <a href="http://www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/forms/family/13/FLR-13-Jan15.pdf"targ... 13: Financial Statement</a> or <a href="http://www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/forms/family/13.1/FLR-13-1-Jan15.pdf"... 13.1: Financial Statement</a>, if there has been a major change to your financial situation.</li>
<li>A <a href="http://www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/forms/family/14a/FLR_14A_Sept105_ODA.... 14A: Affidavit</a>, if there is no change or only minor changes to the last financial statement you filed. You must include details on all the changes</li></ul></p>
<p>You also have to fill out <a href="http://www.ontariocourtforms.on.ca/forms/family/13a/FLR-13A-EN-aug15-fil... 13A: Certificate of Financial Disclosure</a>. 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.</p>
<p>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.</p>