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 to 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.
Alternative dispute resolution
Starting March 2021, you and your partner must consider using an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or family dispute resolution process to resolve your issues out of court if it’s suitable. It might not be an option in situations where:
- a person is afraid of their partner because there’s a history of family violence
- there are serious mental health or drug abuse issues
ADR is voluntary. So, even though you must think about trying it, you can’t be forced to use it.
ADR can be tried before going to court or any time after a court case is started. Every family court in Ontario offers subsidized mediation services.
From August 1, 2021, if you and your partner have tried family mediation, a judge can allow you to move directly to a combined case conference and settlement conference. A judge can only do this when you and your partner have:
- been screened for power imbalances and domestic violence
- shared financial statements
- filed a completed Form 17G: Certificate of Dispute Resolution
- no outstanding motions for temporary orders
Because you have already discussed your issues and shared financial statements, you can skip the case conference steps of the family court process. You can go to a combined case and settlement conference where the focus is on trying to settle the issues you don't agree on. You will need to fill out the forms required for a settlement conference.
If the judge has not already combined the conferences, you or your partner can ask for this by bringing a Form 14B: Motion.
Fill out your forms
Before your case conference, you have to fill out 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 6 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.
You need to go back to the court once your partner has been served, to file your documents and Form 6B: Affidavit of Service in your Continuing Record. You must do this at least 4 days before the conference date.
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.
Review your partner's documents
Your partner must serve you with a copy of their documents at least 4 days before the date of your case conference.
They have to give you their:
- Form 17A: Case Conference Brief
- updated financial information
You should read these documents carefully. Make sure you understand what your partner is asking for. Think about how you and your partner can resolve your issues.
Reach out to your partner
Starting February 1, 2022, you must try to reach out to your partner before your case conference, if you can, about things like:
- sharing financial information
- procedural matters, such as timelines
- resolving your issues
You can do this in person, in writing, or with the help of a lawyer.
If you don't do this, your case conference may be postponed or you may have to pay your partner's legal costs.
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.
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 how Ontario’s courts can be more accessible is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.
You must confirm your court date by 2 p.m., at least 3 days before your scheduled hearing. To confirm a court date, you must fill out and file Form 14C: Confirmation. To confirm a conference date, you must fill out and file Form 17F: Confirmation of Conference.
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 email through the Justice Services Online website. It can no longer be filed by fax.You must give your partner a copy of the form before you give it to the court.
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.
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 file most family law forms and supporting documents:
- Online: The question How do I file court forms for my family law case online? explains how to use the online portal.
- By email to your local court: Each Ontario Court of Justice has its own email address. Each Superior Court of Justice also has an email address and instructions on how to email documents. Check the top of your court forms for the name and address of your local court.
- In person: If you cannot file online or by email, contact your local court to find out when they are open to file documents in person at the court.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
Financial statements must be updated:
- when there is a significant change to one of the partner's income, for example, if they get a new job and their income changes a lot
- after a certain number of days
Before September 1, 2021, financial statements had to be updated if they were more than 30 days old. After September 1, financial statements have to be updated less often as follows:
- case or settlement conference: 60 days old
- motion: 30 days old
- trial: 40 days old
To update your financial statement, 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.
Go to your case conference
Go to your first court date
March 1 2021
Speak clearly and loudly enough that the judge can hear you. Speak only when it is your turn. When you speak to the judge, act respectfully and call him or her “your honor.” NEVER interrupt the judge. Summarize your point of view.What happens at a trial setting conference? ›
What Happens at a Trial Setting Conference? The judge will ask questions about the case to ascertain whether it is ready for trial and how long the trial is likely to take. If the case is indeed ready to proceed to trial, the court will set a Mandatory Settlement Conference (or MSC) as well as a trial date.How do I present my case to a judge? ›
- Understand what will happen at the hearing.
- Don't lie. ...
- Think about your audience.
- Tell the facts in a logical way. ...
- Be brief. ...
- Present your evidence in a way that supports your story.
- Prepare for the unexpected and remain focused.
Case Management Statement (CM-110)
Tells the court information about the progress of a case, so the court can determine when the case will be ready for trial or some other means of resolving the dispute. Filed and served at least 15 days before a case management conference.
- Speak in your own words. When speaking before a judge, it's vital to ensure that your statement is in your own words. ...
- Keep calm. Keeping your composure in a courtroom is essential to appear trustworthy. ...
- Never make a definitive statement. ...
- Be respectful. ...
- Don't lie.
- Know the judge.
- Be organized with your paperwork.
- Dress Appropriately.
- Stay calm in front of the jury.
- Keep eye contact with the jury.
- Don't be late to court.
A court conference is a conversation where the parties or their attorneys have a chance to discuss the case and specifically address the prospects of settlement with the judge, the judge's law clerk, or the court attorney. In some states this conversation is off-the-record.How many days before trial is the final status conference? ›
Final Status Conferences
Final Status Conferences are typically set on Fridays, ten days before a Monday trial date. Local Rules control the documents to be filed for the FSC. The parties are to jointly create binders of all MILs, including moving papers, opposition and reply briefs.
A pretrial conference may be conducted for several reasons: (1) expedite disposition of the case, (2) help the court establish managerial control over the case, (3) discourage wasteful pretrial activities, (4) improve the quality of the trial with thorough preparation, and (5) facilitate a settlement of the case.How do you make a strong case? ›
- Provide a Compelling Approach That Controls the Narrative of the Case. ...
- Develop a Relentless Approach to Collect Evidence. ...
- Exhibit a Deep Knowledge and Understand of the Law. ...
- Stand Aggressively and Fight. ...
- Gain Leverage & Secure a Win.
You can also refuse to answer the question, but be sure to be polite. “Say, 'I appreciate that this is of interest but we don't feel sharing the information is appropriate, especially at this time. But I'd be glad to answer other questions if you have them,'” says Sullivan. “Appreciate the interest but draw lines.”What are the 4 types of case management? ›
- The Brokerage Case Management Model.
- The Clinical Case Management Model.
- The Strengths-Based Case Management Model.
- The Intensive Case Management Model.
- Brokerage model. This is an office-based case management system in which the patient or client meets with the case manager a few times to resolve issues. ...
- Intensive case management. ...
- Clinical case management. ...
- Strengths-based model.
What is case management? Our case managers follow the core elements of case management: assessment, case planning, implementation (service delivery), monitoring and review.What do you say when talking to a judge? ›
The first rule of speaking to a judge in court is always to address them properly as “Your Honor.” This title does not apply to any other presiding officials who are not, in fact, judges. If you are unsure how to address a court official, use the same language that lawyers and others in the courtroom are using.What is the most respectful way to address a judge? ›
In person: In an interview, social event, or in court, address a judge as “Your Honor” or “Judge [last name].” If you are more familiar with the judge, you may call her just “Judge.” In any context, avoid “Sir” or “Ma'am.”What do you first say to a judge? ›
NOTE TO ALL PARTICIPANTS: Always address the judge by saying “Your Honor.” Opening of Trial: Bailiff: Please rise.How do you show respect to a judge? ›
- Respect the Court's time by being on time.
- Choose clothing that would be appropriate for a casual business setting.
- Remove hats before entering the courtroom.
- Turn off cell phones before entering the courtroom.