Where the parties cannot agree on the rights and obligations that follow the breakdown of their relationship, they will likely end up in court. We aim to help clients navigate the complexity of the family court procedure.
Family court procedure generally starts with an Application to the court which we then serve on the other party. The other party then has 30 days to file his/her Answer.
Once a party has started the case, the matter then proceeds through the court as follows:
In some cases urgent motions are required. An urgent motion can prevent imminent damage to a party’s interests. That said, most motions proceed after the case conference. Urgent motions before a case conference are rare.
Your case may require one or more case conferences. At the case conference, the parties meet with their lawyers and the judge. At the conference the judge might make procedural orders. The parties will discuss settlement, and the judge can order terms that the parties agree upon.
If required, motions generally follow the case conference. At this step in the case, a party may ask the judge to make orders without the agreement of the other party. Typical motions address issues such as preservation of property, exclusive possession of the matrimonial home, interim support, or orders for sale of the property, among others.
This may take place on the consent of the parties or by court order. During questioning, the lawyers to ask questions to the other party under oath. This helps to determine what the evidence may look like at trial. It often relates to financial matters, or to other contentious facts in a case.
Once the parties have sorted out procedural matters, financial disclosure and any issues requiring motions, they generally re-attend before the judge for one more settlement conferences. At this stage the parties must file Offers to Settle, and the judge will explore the possibility of settling the issues in dispute without a trial.
Prior to going to trial, the parties must re-attend before the judge to estimate the length of the trial, confirm witnesses, determine whether issues may be narrowed, and to explore whether certain facts can be admitted.
This is the final stage in litigation. At trial, the parties must present their case to the judge and obtain a determination of the issues.
The court may determine that the successful party has the right to recover costs from the unsuccessful party.
This is a general overview of a long and sometimes complex process. Each case has its own unique facts and features. Depending on the issues involved and the position of the parties, some or all of these family court procedures may be required. For more information, please contact us.