You're Going To Ontario Family Court... What Now? - Part 2 of 5
Part 2 in the series... So, It didn't settle and you're headed to Family Court
So you find yourself headed to Family Court. What now?
It can get confusing when you have to navigate the various stage of a family law matter in our Ontario courts. We'll try to help by outlining the various stages of a court proceeding and telling you what kind of orders can be made at the conferences we will tell you about. In upcoming days, we will provide information concerning each type of conference mentioned below.
Stages Of The Family Law Proceeding
Unless there is something that is absolutely urgent, the first stage in a family law proceeding is the case conference. The focus of this conference is to determine what document disclosure or procedural orders are required to move the case forward towards resolution.
The matter then either proceeds to a motion in order to obtain any necessary "in the meantime" orders. Often the issues of access and support are dealt with at this stage since parties may not be in a position to wait until final resolution of the case. There are 2 ways a Court case is resolved on a final basis; the parties settle all of the issues (at any point) or a final order is made at trial.
The next step in a proceeding is a settlement conference. The focus of that conference, is as one would imagine, is to explore settlement options for the case.
If the case does not settle by this time, the next step is the trial management conference. The focus of this conference is to organize and hopefully streamline the pending trial by discussing the issues to be tried, discussing what evidence will likely be presented, establishing witnesses to be called at trial and estimating the length of the trial and establishing time lines.
Attached is a chart outlining the stages of a family law proceeding.
Check back for information on the different conferences we wrote about.
What Types Of Orders Can Be Made At Conferences?
It is important to understand what types of orders can be made at a conference so as to not have unrealistic expectations of what can or will happen.
Unless the order is made on consent, a judge cannot make orders concerning issues like custody, access, or support.
At a conference, a judge can make orders concerning:
- document disclosure,
- orders as to whether evidence of a witness at trial can be made by a sworn written document,
- orders regarding the use of expert witnesses, an order that a party to the case attend certain programs,
- if notice has been served,
- an order regarding designation of beneficiaries under a life insurance policy or RRSP, trust, pension plan, annuity, or similar financial instrument
- an order preserving assets generally or particularly
- an order that a party provide an accounting regarding funds,
- an order that a party maintain health or medical insurance for the other party and/or the children
- an order that a party continue to pay certain amounts required to preserve an asset or benefit for the other party
If notice has been given, a judge may or may not make certain temporary orders such orders for support at a conference. Speak specifically to your lawyer on the issue of what types of order he or she anticipates might be made at the conference you are about to attend.
Check back for information about the purposes of each of the conferences.