What is a conference in my child protection case?

5. Go to your conference

Some courts have a board near the entrance of the building or outside each courtroom that lists the cases being heard that day with their room number.

Other courts don't have this, so you have to find your CAS worker to find out which court you are in, or if you know the name of your judge, you can find their courtroom.

If you have trouble finding your courtroom, ask for help at the court counter.

For most conferences, you should plan to spend at least half a day in court. A TBST might be shorter. While conferences generally take about an hour, the judge may ask you and CAS to take time to try to resolve your issues outside of the conference.

At your conference, the and their lawyers, if any, meet with a judge to discuss your issues. The goal is to agree on some or all of your issues, including:

  • legal issues you and CAS have to agree on
  • ways to resolve the issues
  • information you and CAS need to share
  • next steps needed to resolve the issues

If you and CAS agree on any issue during your conference, you usually write this in a consent agreement or . The judge then makes that into a .

The judge can also make procedural orders to keep the case moving forward. They can make orders about:

  • Documents that you or CAS has to share. For example, the judge may order that CAS give you all their case notes, reports, and anything else in its file.
  • Procedure or next steps needed to resolve the issues. For example, the judge may set a date for another conference.

At a conference the judge usually doesn't decide on major issues that you and CAS can't agree on. For example, the judge will not change where your child will live.

Settlement conference

At the end of a , the judge usually returns your Settlement Conference Brief to you or the court staff destroys the brief. It doesn't remain in your court once the conference is over.

This is because the discussions at a settlement conference are private and can't be shared with another judge. This is to let everyone discuss possible ways to agree without worrying that what they say can be used against them as evidence later. 

Settlement conferences are meant to help settle your case. If you offer to do something to reach a settlement, but then you don't settle, you don't have to offer to do the same thing later.

Trial management conference

At the end of a , the Trial Management Conference Brief or Trial Scheduling Endorsement Form is added to the court file. This is because it has procedural information in it, like who will be called as a and how long the trial is expected to take.

Your next court date

The court tells you when your next court date is. If the judge thinks another conference will be helpful, they can set a date for another one.

If you're going to another conference, you may have to update your documents if there is a big change in your plan or something significant has changed.  For example, if you have separated from your partner, have a new partner, or finished counselling or treatment. 

If you're filing updated documents, you have to follow the same steps, like serving your documents, adding them to your court file, and confirming your court date.

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