I have a family court date in the Superior Court of Justice. What should I do?

Check here for updates from the Superior Court of Justice:
www.ontariocourts.ca/scj

The Superior Court of Justice (SCJ) deals with family matters:

  • in person in court,
  • virtually, either by Zoom video or phone,
  • or hybrid, which means a mix of in-person and virtual.

Family cases are heard as follows:

Type of hearing: Method of hearing:
First appearance court Check with the court
Early or urgent conference Virtual
Urgent Virtual
Case conferences, settlement conferences, trial management conferences focused on settlement In person
Trial scheduling conferences and other trial management conferences focused on preparing for trial Virtual
Procedural motions and motions on consent In writing
Trials In person

Child protection issues are heard as follows:

Type of hearing: Method of hearing:
First hearing, if a child has been brought to a place of safety Virtual
Child protection lists or To Be Spoken To Appearances Virtual
Settlement conferences and trial management conferences focused on settlement In person
Trial scheduling conferences and other trial management conferences focused on preparing for trial Virtual
Motions on consent and procedural motions In writing
Trials In person

(FRO) issues will be heard in person.

These are general guidelines. The court can decide to do something different. The court considers things like:

  • the issues the hearing is about,
  • how long the hearing is expected to take,
  • the evidence,
  • whether the have lawyers,
  • whether one of the needs an interpreter, and
  • whether the parties have to technology, for example, a good internet connection.

Check with your local court if you need more information.

The SCJ has a guide about how to behave in a virtual hearing, and some tips for virtual hearings. And here are about how to behave in court for an in-person hearing.

Virtual hearings

A virtual hearing is held by Zoom video. Zoom is a free software that is available on a web browser or can be downloaded on your phone, tablet, or computer.

You should get the Zoom meeting details for a first appearance when your Application is . For other hearings, you should receive an email with instructions on how to join the virtual hearing and the day and time of your hearing. If you don't have this information, contact your local court before your court date.

Some things to keep in mind for your virtual hearing:

  • Test your internet connection ahead of time.
  • Try and use a device with a camera, such as a computer, tablet, or smart phone.
  • Make sure your computer is charged and that you have a charger close by.
  • Find a quiet space with good lighting and a suitable background.
  • Use a headset, if possible.
  • Log in to your hearing 15 minutes early.
  • Your screen name should be your given name and last name.
  • Raise your hand when you want to speak.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Mute your microphone when you're not speaking.

If you have problems during the hearing, for example, you can't hear the judge or the other , raise your hand to let the judge know. If you get disconnected, try to join again.

Phone hearings

You should receive instructions on how to join your phone hearing, and the day and time of your hearing. If you don't get this information before your court date, contact your local court.

Some things to keep in mind for your phone hearing:

  • Call in to your hearing at least 10 minutes early.
  • Find a quiet space.
  • A landline is better than a cell phone. If you're using a cell phone, put it on silent mode until your hearing starts. This way your phone notification sounds don't disturb the hearing.
  • Don't use speakerphone or put the call on hold, as the sounds may disturb the hearing.
  • Before you speak, say your name for the record.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.

If there's a problem with your phone connection or you can't hear the judge or the other party, let the judge know. If you get disconnected, try to call again.

In-person hearings

COVID-19 screening is no longer required to enter a courthouse. But you should still check to see if you have any COVID-19 symptoms. You can use the government's screening tool but you don't have to show the results when you get to court.

Contact your local court for more information.

Court lists

The court posts a list of cases they're hearing for the current day and next day on their website. After selecting your municipality, legal area, for example, family, civil, or criminal, and court location, you get a list. The list includes the:

  • name of the party
  • case number
  • time
  • room number
  • reason for the court appearance, for example, motion, , or pre-trial

These lists are updated at least once daily at 8 a.m. This means your case might not be on the list if, for example, your case is to be heard by affidavit evidence only, or was added to the list after 8 a.m.

Court filings

You can your documents:

Legal help

Legal Aid Ontario

You can get summary legal advice and services over the phone from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) at 1-800-668-8258 or, in Toronto, at 416-979-1446.

Mediation

Each family court location in Ontario offers subsidized mediation services. You can get up to 8 hours of for a fee that is based on each person's income and number of dependents. Fees start as low as $5 per hour. And if you have a court case, you can get up to 2 hours of mediation for free.

Contact service providers for an appointment or more information.

Hide this website