Prepare for your case conference

The first time you and your partner speak with a judge about your case is at a . At a case conference, you and your partner (and your lawyers if you have them) meet with a judge to discuss and try and 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 or a trial.

Rule 17: Conferences tells you what you need to do to prepare for your case conference and what happens at one.

Your partner has to you with the following documents at least 6 days before your case conference:

If your partner's is more than 30 days old at the time of your conference, you will also be served with one of the following documents:

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.

Alternative dispute resolution

Starting March 2021, you and your partner must consider using an (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
  • 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.

Combined conferences

From August 1, 2021, if you and your partner have tried family , a judge can allow you to move directly to a combined case conference and . A judge can only do this when you and your partner have:

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

You also have to fill out your own 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 4 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.

After you serve your partner, you must 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.

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.

But you might not have to do this in some situations. For example, if there is a no- or there are concerns about family violence by one partner who doesn't have a lawyer.

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.

How to:

Ask for a special arrangement

Confirm your court date

Count time

File your court forms and documents

Serve your documents

Update your continuing record

Update your financial statements

Reviewed: March 20, 2023
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