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How do I prepare for a family law trial?
A trial is your chance to prove what you said and asked for in your court forms. You do this by presenting your evidence. Your evidence can be documents or witnesses that support your case or go against your partner’s case.
Judges are neutral and impartial. This means they don't take sides and can't give you legal advice.
Judges decide family cases on their own without a jury. They make decisions using the family law rules and laws and the evidence you give. They use a test called the balance of probabilities. This means that your evidence has to be more believable than your partner’s evidence.
There are Family Law Rules that tell you what is needed at every step in a court case. Rule 23 Evidence and trial tells you how to prepare for your trial and how to give your evidence.
This family law court process flowchart explains each step in a family law court case. It also tells you how to prepare for a trial.
You can talk to a lawyer who can explain the court process and help you through it. If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.
If your income is low enough, you can also ask duty counsel questions about the trial process if they are available in your court location. These are private lawyers or Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers who give legal help to people who appear in court that day without a lawyer. Duty counsel can't represent you at trial but may be able to help you with general questions.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you may be able to find legal help in other places.