How do I start a family law court case?

2. Get your forms issued by the court

Once you fill out your forms, you must have your Application by the court. This means the signs, dates, and stamps them and gives you a court date.

Choose the right court

There are 3 courts that deal with family law issues in Ontario. These are the:

  • Ontario Court of Justice
  • Superior Court of Justice
  • Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice

It is important that you go to the right court. Rule 5: Where a case starts and is to be heard tells you where you should start your family law case.

You have to start your case in a court that:

  1. Deals with the family law issues you need to resolve. For example, the Ontario Court of Justice doesn’t deal with divorces or
  2. Is in the municipality where you or your partner live. But, if your issues are about  or , you usually go to the court in the municipality where your child lives. Decision-making responsibility and parenting time used to be called and .

If you’re not sure which court to go to, call the family courthouse in your municipality to ask.

Give your forms to the court

You can now submit most family law forms and supporting documents online. For more information, read the question How do I file court forms for my family law case online? If you’re not allowed to, or don’t want to your documents online, then you have to file them in person at the courthouse.

You will get:

  • A court file number. This number must be written in the box at the top right hand corner of each page of your forms.
  • The first court date for your case if your case is at the:
    • Ontario Court of Justice
    • Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice, unless you’re also asking for a or to divide property. If you are, there is no first court date.
  • 2 notices to go to a , one for you and one for your partner.
  • Blank forms you have to give your partner for them to fill out.

Pay court fees

The cost to file court forms online is the same as the cost to file them in person at a courthouse.

The Ontario Court of Justice has no court fees. But, if your case is at the Superior Court of Justice or the Family Branch of the Superior Court of Justice you have to pay court fees. These include:

  • $202 to file an Application
  • $212 to file an Application that includes a divorce
  • $161 to file an Answer
  • $202 to file an Answer that includes a divorce

If you can’t afford to pay the court fees, you can ask the court for a “fee waiver”. This means you don’t have to pay most court fees. The Ontario government’s A Guide to Fee Waiver Requests tells you which court fees can be waived and how to ask for a fee waiver.

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