In the Ontario Superior Court of Justice - Family Court most proceedings begin with an APPLICATION, where a party (meaning either a man/father or a woman/mother) initiates Family Court proceedings. The person initiating the Court proceeding is known as the APPLICANT.
The APPLICATION contains CLAIMS by the APPLICANT. These CLAIMS are what the APPLICANT wants the Family Court to order the other party to do.
Generally, once you have been SERVED (given the Court Documents) you have 30 DAYS under the FAMILY LAW RULES to formally respond (subject to some exceptions) in what is known as an ANSWER.
The party who must ANSWER is known as the RESPONDENT.
The RESPONDENT provides an ANSWER to the APPLICATION by either agreeing to the orders requested by the APPLICANT, or disputing them.
The RESPONDENT then may also make CLAIMS of their own, which the APPLICANT must answer in a REPLY.
If the APPLICATION contains a claim for either CHILD or SPOUSAL SUPPORT, then the ANSWER must have an accompanying FINANCIAL STATEMENT served with the APPLICATION.
An APPLICATION with a CHILD SUPPORT claim DOES NOT have to be accompanied by a FINANCIAL STATEMENT if the only claim is the table amount under the CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES. If there is a claim for EXTRAORDINARY EXPENSES or you make a STANDARD OF LIVING TEST CLAIM, then the other party must serve you a FINANCIAL STATEMENT.
Also, if there is CLAIM for SPOUSAL SUPPORT, you must be served a FINANCIAL STATEMENT.
NOTE - CUSTODY & ACCESS CLAIMS: If there is a claim for custody and/or access, you must also serve and file a form 35.1 - AFFIDAVIT FOR CUSTODY & ACCESS. Please see Guide 03b. AFFIDAVIT FOR CUSTODY & ACCESS - Form 35.1 below for details.
NOTE - PROPERTY CLAIMS : Property cannot be claimed in the Ontario Court of Justice. Property matters can only be heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
The party that served you, likely your wife or common-law partner then must prove to the Family Court that she has in fact SERVED you.
This PROOF of SERVICE is known as an AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE.
The AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE is a document that tells the Court that the party swears that the documents were served upon the other party. It is sworn written testimony. It is sworn either by the Clerk of the Court, a lawyer, or other commissioner of oaths, authorized by the Attorney General of Ontario to notarize Family Court documents.
Every document SERVED by a party upon the other party, must have an accompanying AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE proving that the other party was in fact given a copy of the documents. There are specific rules related to serving Court documents under the Family Law Rules which you must review in order for service to be effective and accepted by the Court. Please review Rule 6 - Service of the Family Law Rules for details and the Government Self Help Guides for Family Court for examples.
After the APPLICATION, ANSWER and REPLY have been SERVED, the parties have their FIRST COURT DATE to verify that in fact all documents have been served on the parties and that the documents have also been filed with the Court.
The First Appearance Clerk verifies this at the FIRST COURT DATE, and either schedules timelines to finish service of documents, and schedules the first CASE CONFERENCE DATE.
A CASE CONFERENCE BRIEF must then be prepared and exchanged as per the timelines in the FAMILY LAW RULES (APPLICANT within seven days and RESPONDENT within four days of the CASE CONFERNCE, per the FAMILY LAW RULES).
By 2 PM, two days before the CASE CONFERENCE, the parties must confirm the date with each other and file a CONFIRMATION with the Family Court. Most Family Courts have a special fax number for transmitting the CONFIRMATION FORM.
At the CASE CONFERENCE, the Judge will attempt to facilitate a settlement discussion, and have the parties go outside of the Court to see if they can come up with an agreement to either settle all, or part of the COURT CASE.
Any agreement to settle is done in writing. This is known as either TEMPORARY or FINAL MINUTES OF SETTLEMENT, depending on whether part or the entire matter is settled.
The MINUTES OF SETTLEMENT then become a JUDGE'S ENDORSEMENT, this is what the Judge writes down as his/her ORDER.
The JUDGE'S ENDORSEMENT, is then written up into a DRAFT COURT ORDER. If the parties have lawyers, the DRAFT COURT ORDER is prepared by one of the lawyers. The other lawyer, then must approve the DRAFT COURT ORDER as to its form (the way its drafted - who was there, is it a temporary or final order) and content (what it actually says, who will do what, when they will do it, etc.).
Once approvd by the other lawyer, the DRAFT COURT ORDER then goes back to the Family Court, where it is compared by either the Judge or a Clerk of the Court against the ENDORSEMENT.
If the DRAFT COURT ORDER and ENDORSEMENT match and the form is technically correct, the ORDER is APPROVED and then is ISSUED under a COURT SEAL.
The COURT ORDER is now ENFORCEABLE, within the limits proscribed by law.
NOTE: DIVORCE ( Which is initiated by APPLICATION) can only be heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
There are three kinds of DIVORCE APPLICATIONS
1. SIMPLE APPLICATION - An uncontested divorce initiated by either the husband or wife, where there will be no property, custody/access or support claims.
2. GENERAL APPLICATION A contested divorce initiated by either the husband or wife, where there are property, custody/access or support claims being made.
3. JOINT APPLICATION - An uncontested divorce initiated by the husband and wife together, where there will be no property, custody/access or support claims.
The pdf documents BELOW provide a layperson-explanation of the Family Court process in much greater detail.