how we help with court matters
We provide full representation for court matters, including:
- drafting, serving, and filing all court documents
- communicating with the other party or their lawyer
- attending court to present your case at conferences, motions, and trial
- accepting service of court documents on your behalf.
Limited Scope Retainers
We also offer limited scope retainers where we can help with with any part of the above, for specific services discussed between us. In limited scope retainers where we provide only those services you request and we agree on - we also offer coaching to help you prepare for attending court or preparing your documents on your own. Limited scope involvement is also called the unbundling of legal services, or targeted legal services.
should my matter go to court?
Court is not the preferred option, but sometimes it is necessary. If you have tried to get the other party to respond but they will not engage in discussions, or you have tried negotiations, collaboration, and/or mediation and could not come to a resolution, court may be your best option. When served with court documents, the other person only has 30 days to respond, or you can obtain the court order you are asking for without further input from them. In that way, court can move matters forward that are at an impasse.
You may also need court if negotiations are not an option due to criminal orders restricting contact or domestic violence.
What court do I go to?
Types of Court - Jusisdiction
If you are dealing with property or divorce you must proceed in the Superior Court of Justice. If you are dealing with custody, access, or support issues only, you can proceed in the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice - both are options. If you are seeking to change a previous court order, you have to go to the same level of court you were at before. Waterloo Region does not have a unified family court which deals with all family issues, but some surrounding geographic areas do and your family matter would then proceed in Superior Court of Justice - Family.
Geographic Areas - Jurisdiction
Your court matter related to custody and access must take place where the children reside. If your matter deals only with financial issues, it can be decided in the geographic area where either party resides. If one party lives in another province, there is a special process, called the Interjurisdictional Support Orders ("ISO"), that can be used for matters related to support only.
The Court Process
The court process is complicated and has a series of rules that need to be followed. The Family Law Rules govern procedural issues in family matters.
Community Legal Education Ontario ("CLEO") has an excellent flow chart that you can obtain by clicking here. It outlines the basic steps in family law court proceedings. There are detailed charts for both Applicants and the Respondents.
For an overview of family law in Ontario, this booklet from CLEO is also helpful.