4. Go to court to change orders not dealing with support

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Family Law - Separation and divorce
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General
Ministry of the Attorney General

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How do I change my court order?
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4. Go to court to change orders not dealing with support

If you and your partner still cannot agree on changing orders that don't deal with support, even with the help of a family law professional, or if this is not the right option for you, you can go to court.

Going to court can be a complicated process and it can take a lot of time. It can be stressful and expensive, but it is sometimes necessary to decide your issues. This family law court process flowchart explains each step in a family law court case.

You can ask a judge to change your final court order by asking for a variation. You do this by bringing a motion to change. A motion to change is the name of the court process used to ask a judge to make the changes to your court order.

To bring a motion to change, you must show a material change in circumstances. This means you have to show that your situation has changed so much that your order needs to be changed to deal with those changes.

A judge will look at the facts of your case and the best interests of the child test to make decisions about custody and access.

This test looks at things like:

  • the relationship between each parent and the child
  • the emotional ties between each parent and the child
  • how long the child has lived in a stable environment
  • each parent's plan for the child's care and upbringing
  • each parent's ability to care for the child
  • in some cases, the child's views and wishes
  • if there has been abuse against any family member or any child

You can talk to a lawyer who can explain your responsibilities under the existing order. A lawyer can also tell you if facts exist that may convince a judge that the order should be changed or ended and help you through the process.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers will provide "unbundled" or "limited scope" 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.

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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario)
Reviewed: September 1, 2020

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