4. Learn when service takes effect

What does serving your documents mean in a family law court case?
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4. Learn when service takes effect

You must follow the Family Law Rules that say the day by which you have to serve your partner with your documents.

Rule 3: Time tells you how to count time or days. Counting time or days is important because court staff won't accept your documents if you haven't followed the rules.

For example, some of these rules are:

  • an Application must be served within 6 months of being issued by the court
  • an Answer must be served within 30 days of getting the Application
  • a Reply must be served within 10 days of getting the Answer

When you serve your documents, counting starts on the day after the "effective" service day. The effective service day depends on how you served the documents. If you served them:

  • personally - service is effective the same day
  • by mail - service is effective 5 days after the documents are mailed
  • by same day courier - service is effective the day after the courier picks it up
  • by next day courier - service is effective two days after the courier picks it up
  • by fax or email - service is effective the day it is faxed or emailed as long as it is faxed or emailed before 4 p.m. on a day when the court is open, otherwise service is effective the day after
  • at your partner’s home with anyone who seems to be an adult and then mailed to that address - service is effective 5 days after the documents are mailed

For example, suppose your partner has to get your documents at least 7 days before your hearing. If you serve them personally on Monday, the first day you count is Tuesday and the 7th day is the following Monday. If the last day is a holiday, the time period ends on the next day that is not a holiday.

If you have more than 7 days to serve or file your documents or to confirm your court date, then Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when court offices are closed are counted.

But if you have less than 7 days to serve or file your documents or to confirm your court date, then Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays when court offices are closed are not counted.

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Ontario Court Forms
Reviewed: August 19, 2020

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