Vaughan Family Lawyers Providing Representation in Conferences & Motions
Ontario’s case management system aims to help facilitate a resolution between separated couples as quickly and efficiently as possible while keeping the court process moving forward. All family law cases in the Ontario court system are put in the case management process from the outset. When parties cannot resolve matters and need a judicial decision, they can bring a motion for interim relief while working towards a final resolution.
At GDH Family Law, our lawyers have extensive experience navigating our clients’ cases through the Ontario court system. The numerous steps and forms set out in the Family Law Rules can be overwhelming to those unfamiliar with Ontario family law. We ensure your case proceeds as smoothly as possible by preparing all required documents and ensuring filing deadlines are met. Our attentive team keeps you updated through the process, so you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands.
Conferences in Family Law
The Ontario family court process involves various types of conferences, depending on the stage of the proceedings and the possibility of resolution between the parties.
A family law file is put into the case management system at the outset of the court process.
The first court date is generally a case conference. Before the case conference, the spouses must exchange all financial disclosure required to calculate equalization and support. This includes income tax returns, proof of current income, and details of assets and liabilities; and file a case conference brief and any other documents as required by the Family Law Rules.
At the case conference, the judge will try to help the parties reach a settlement (even a temporary one) on the issues. The case conference gives the parties insight into how a judge may rule in a contested motion or at trial, which may encourage the parties to avoid unnecessary litigation. However, the case conference judge’s recommendations are not binding.
The case conference judge will also address any procedural issues, including outstanding financial disclosure. If a spouse has not made a reasonable effort to fulfill their disclosure obligations, the judge can make an order compelling disclosure. They can also hold the spouse responsible for the other spouse’s legal costs associated with the case conference.
Case conferences are private and the matters discussed are confidential. Only a court order or written agreement between the parties can be used as evidence in any subsequent court hearing.
If the parties cannot resolve their outstanding disputes after the case conference, they may need to proceed to a settlement conference.
Settlement conferences are required where the parties cannot agree on one or more issues. The settlement conference judge will determine whether any issues can be resolved without the need for further litigation. The judge also ensures all information and documents required for trial have been exchanged.
As with case conferences, the parties must file a brief and any other documents as required by the Family Law Rules before the settlement conference. Updated financial statements are also required for unresolved issues relating to support or equalization.
If the parties still cannot reach an agreement after the settlement conference, they can schedule another settlement conference or prepare for trial.
Trial Management/Scheduling Conference
A trial management/scheduling conference is used to finalize procedural matters for trial. The judge will ensure both parties are ready to proceed and confirm the witnesses to be called by each side. They will also ensure enough time is scheduled for the trial. The trial management conference is also used as a last attempt for the parties to negotiate a settlement.
Family Law Motions
A motion is a court process where a party requests a judge to make an order. Motions may be uncontested or contested. In an uncontested motion, there is no party fighting the order sought. Therefore, so long as the judge agrees with the order sought, it may be granted without a court hearing. In a contested motion, the parties disagree about the matter at issue in the motion and therefore may require a hearing before a judge.
Many motions may be filed in family law cases. They may involve procedural matters, such as a request to extend a deadline to file a document under the Family Law Rules or more substantial issues like parenting arrangements or support.
As some divorces can be lengthy and involve complicated disputes, a spouse may bring a motion to temporarily resolve an issue pending a final settlement or trial. Some examples of temporary orders obtained through a motion are:
- Orders setting parenting time and schedules and decision-making responsibility;
- Orders for interim spousal or child support;
- Preservation orders preventing a spouse from recklessly depleting or hiding family assets;
- Orders to vary or change an existing order; or
- Disclosure orders requiring a party to provide their financial disclosure by a set deadline.
Unless a matter is urgent, a spouse cannot bring a motion until after the first case conference has taken place. Urgent motions are only allowed in very limited circumstances, such as a situation where a child is at risk of being abducted by a parent.
Under the Family Law Rules, the responding party is entitled to a certain amount of notice of the motion so they can prepare a response. The applicant may ask the court to shorten the amount of notice required for urgent motions. However, if a judge decides the matter was not actually urgent, they can refuse to hear the motion and order costs against the applicant.
Many motions require technical knowledge of the law. It is advisable to have a family lawyer help you avoid unnecessary costs and delays caused by a failure to follow the court’s rules.
Contact GDH Family Law in Vaughan for Guidance on Conferences & Motions
GDH Family Law understands how overwhelming the court process can be, particularly considering the emotional stress parties may experience after a separation. Our team is readily available to assist with any stage of your family law case. We provide flexible options to provide as much or as little support as you require. Whether you need guidance solely for a case conference or motion, or for your entire separation and divorce, we can help.
GDH Family Law is an innovative boutique family law firm based in Vaughan and servicing the surrounding areas, including Maple, Concord, Woodbridge, Markham, Kleinburg, Richmond Hill, Nobleton, Toronto, Newmarket, Aurora, Brampton, Caledon, Mississauga, Etobicoke, North York, Thornhill, and King City. For a free initial consultation on your family law matter, call 416-535-6944 or reach out online.