You're Going To Ontario Family Court... What Now? - Part 1 of 5
Dealing with your day in Ontario Family Court
So you find yourself headed to Family Court. What now?
People often have certain common questions about going to court. We'll address some of them.
What do I wear?
Wear a dress, skirt and top, dress pants and top, or suit if you are a woman.
Men should wear a dress shirt and dress pants or a suit.
Where do I sit?
You should sit beside your lawyer at the counsel table after being invited by the Court (your lawyer should ask the Justice first)
Will the Judge ask me questions?
If you have a lawyer, likely not. Always answer questions directly. Your lawyer will intervene if necessary.
If the Judge asks me a question, how do I address him or her?
You should always refer to the Judge as Your Honour.
How long will it take in court?
It is difficult to know. Sometimes you wait for matters ahead of yours to proceed. Sometimes the Judge wants the parties and their lawyers to go and talk and come back later that day to see him or her. You should book the entire day off of work and make child care arrangements if necessary.
Is there anything I should not do?
Yes. You should not do the following:
Roll your eyes or make other facial expressions or sounds of expression.
Speak- unless your lawyer or the Judge says it is ok
Have your cell phone or smart phone on. -Turning it to mute or airplane mode is not enough.
May I bring a family member or friend with me for support?
Yes you may.
Will that family member or friend be allowed to come into the courtroom with me?
Normally yes but not for some conferences or the Judge believes there exists reasons why the courtroom should be closed for your case.
Should I tell my child/children that I am going to court?
What should I do if the other party tells the child/children we are going to court?
Assure the child/children that the adults are meeting with a Judge to help make decisions. Assure the child this is not something they need to worry about. Assure the child that both you and the other parent love them and want to do what is best for them.
Can I bring my child/children to court?
What if I don't understand something during the hearing?
Ask your lawyer to explain it to you right there if a decision is to be made. Don't interrupt them while they are speaking. Write a note to them. Most lawyers will provide a note pad for their client for this purpose prior to the matter being heard. Otherwise, ask your lawyer once you have stepped outside of the courtroom.
Can anyone hear me if I ask my lawyer something?
Yes, as there are microphones at the counsel table. It is best to write your questions down. If you must speak, do so as quietly as possible.
Check back for information on the different stages of a court proceeding.