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How do I start a family law court case?

How do I start a family law court case?
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Reviewed: 
April 1, 2019
Answer

If you're starting a family law court case, you're called the applicant. Your partner is called the respondent. You're both known as the parties in your court case.

The family court process follows strict rules. There is a rule about what is needed at every step in a court case. These rules are called the Family Law Rules. Reading them can help you as you fill out court forms and go through the court process.

Rule 8: Starting a case tells you how to start a family law court case.

To start a court case, you must fill out a number of court forms and give them to your partner. These forms tell your partner and the court the issues you’re asking the court to decide and the orders you want the court to make.

This family law court process flowchart explains each step in a family law court case.

You can talk to a lawyer who can help you understand what the law says and what your options are. They can also 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 you can't afford to hire a lawyer at all, you may be able to find legal help in other places.

Using your address on court forms

If you fear for your safety and don't want your partner to find out where you live, you don't have to put your home address on your court documents when you fill them out. You can put any address where you can pick up mail from. For example, you can put a friend or a family member’s address.

And, you can also ask court staff to serve your partner with your court documents for you.

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