Glossary - Family Law


In Child abuse and neglect, Domestic violence, Family Law

Access used to mean the time a parent spends with a child they usually don’t live with. For most family law cases, the term “access” has changed to parenting time. Now, all parents usually have parenting time. If you have a child protection case, the term access may still be used.

Parenting time or access can be on a strict schedule, such as every other weekend, or on a flexible schedule. In some cases, it might be supervised, which means someone else, like a Children’s Aid Society worker or relative, watches the visit.

A person who has parenting time or access usually also has the right to information about the child’s well-being, such as information about their health and education.

adoption consent

In Family Law

An adoption consent is a document a parent signs that says they agree to place their child for adoption. The document must be signed in front of a lawyer.

If the child being adopted is 7 years or older, they usually also have to agree to their adoption. The child meets with a lawyer from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer before signing a consent.

advice counsel

In Family Law

Advice counsel are private lawyers or Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers located in all family courts who give basic information on family law to anyone who wants information. For example, advice counsel can explain legal terms, how to start or respond to a court application, and the court process.

If your income is low enough, advice counsel can also give you legal advice about child custody and access, child support and spousal support, dividing property, divorce, and most other family law matters.

alternative dispute resolution

In Abuse and Family Violence, Family Law, Tribunals and Courts

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or family dispute resolution processes refers to different ways or processes that try to get people to agree on their legal issues without going to court. Some of these processes are collaborative family law, mediation, and arbitration.


In Family Law

An annulment is a court order that your marriage was not valid from the start. You might get one if, for example, your partner was still married to someone else when they married you.

It is rare to get an annulment to legally end a marriage. Most of the time you need to get a divorce to legally end a marriage.


In Family Law

To appeal means to ask a judge or someone with more power to review a decision that you don’t agree with.

Other parties who are affected by the decision can also appeal.


In Family Law

The applicant is the party who starts the court case. An applicant can be one person or a group of two or more people, a corporation, or an agency like the Family Responsibility Office, etc.

The person that they are making a claim against is called the respondent.


In Family Law

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process where partners meet with a neutral person, called an arbitrator, to solve their issues without going to court. An arbitrator is usually a lawyer. A non-lawyer can also be an arbitrator if they have special family law training. If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement, the arbitrator makes a decision to solve your issues. Their decision is called a family arbitration award.


In Family Law, Income Assistance, Tribunals and Courts, Wills and Powers of Attorney

Assets, sometimes called property, are things that you own. For example, assets include cars, real estate, registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs), and any savings you have.

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