You're Going To Ontario Family Court... What Now? - Part 5 of 5

Author: Sherri D Moss | | Posted in FAMILY LAWYER

Part 5 in the series…So, It didn’t settle and you’re headed to Family Court

In our last segment, we outlined the purposes of a settlement conference. Now let’s look at the purposes of a trial management conference.

Each conference has a distinct purpose. These are outlined in the Family Law Rules which govern how a court file proceeds in Ontario.

The third and the last in the series of conference is the trial management conference. The purposes of a trial management conference include: (some also apply to case conferences and settlement conferences)

  1. Exploring the possibility of settling the case.

    This is only possible if the documentation and information needed to have a meaningful discussion has been exchanged.

    Make sure your lawyer has all of your documentation well ahead of the conference if he or she did not have it for the case conference and has asked the other side well ahead of the conference for exactly what documentation and information he or she is looking for. That gives each side time to review all of the documentation. That allows you to go into your settlement conference prepared to have settlement discussions.

    You should also have provided the other side with a detailed offer to settle. This offer may be limited if you did not have enough information or documentation to put forward an offer to settle on each and every issue.

  2. Arranging to receive evidence by a written report, an agreed statement of facts, an affidavit, or other method.

    Your lawyer and the other lawyer should communicate before the trial management conference brief is due in order to discuss whether the length of the trial can be lessened by agreement on facts or use of any of the above noted documents.

  3. Deciding how the trial will proceed.

    The trial management judge may well make orders in terms of the order in which witnesses will testify if this is necessary due to timing issues or distance the witness must travel.

    1) Exploring the use of expert evidence reports at trial, including the timing requirements for service and filing of experts’ reports.

    There are rules governing the use of experts’ reports at trial. If you intend to call an expert at trial, a copy of his or her report must be provided to the other side no later than 90 days prior to the trial.

  4. Ensuring that the parties know what witnesses will testify and what other evidence and what other evidence will be presented at trial.

    “Trial by ambush” or taking the other party by surprise may happen on television, but it is not allowed in real life. You and your lawyer have a right to know what evidence the other side will present and who the other side plans to call to testify at trial.

  5. Estimate the time needed for trial.

    You will be kept to your estimated time for trial, so your lawyer should carefully and realistically consider how much time is needed for you to present your case, including cross-examination of witnesses.

  6. Setting the trial date, if this has not already been done.

    In some jurisdictions, there are specific times of the year that trials are heard, so there may well be a significant gap in between when the case is set for trial and when the trial proceeds.

Corrine M. van der Burg, LL.B.
Daniel R. Furlan, LL.B.
Fader Furlan Moss, LLP.