Sheard Law is a family law firm in Toronto and has professional and experienced family lawyers.

Where the parties cannot agree on the rights and obligations that follow the breakdown of their relationship, proceedings are commenced by filing an Application with the court.

The complexity of this task is determined by the property and support issues involved, as well as the parties’ positions on child custody and access.

Once the application is filed with the court and served on the other party, an Answer is then filed within 30 days. The matter then proceeds through the court process as follows:

  1. Urgent Motions – In some cases urgent motions are required, for example, when one party seeks to deplete assets prior to the matter being heard in court. An urgent motion is rare and seeks to prevent imminent damage to a party’s interests. Most motions proceed after the case conference.
  2. Case Conferences – One or more case conferences may be required. These are meetings between the parties, the lawyers and a judge. The purpose of these meetings is to streamline the litigation, receive procedural orders or orders for disclosure of documents, and to canvass the possibility of settlement.
  3. Motions – If required, motions generally follow the case conference. A motion is a court procedure where a party asks the judge to make orders. Typical motions relate to orders for preservation of property, exclusive possession of the matrimonial home, interim support, or orders for sale of the property, among others.
  4. Questioning – this may take place on the consent of the parties or by court order. It is an opportunity for the lawyers to ask questions to the other party and to determine what the evidence may look like at trial. It often relates to financial matters, or to other contentious facts in a case.
  5. Settlement Conferences – 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.
  6. Trial Management Conferences – 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.
  7. Trial of the Matter – This is the final stage in litigation. It is an opportunity for the parties to present their case to the judge and obtain a determination of the issues.
  8. Costs – The court may determine that the successful party has the right to recover costs from the unsuccessful party.

Each case has its own unique facts and features. Depending on the issues involved and the position of the parties, some or all of the foregoing steps may be required. This is a general overview of a long and sometimes complex process. For more information, please contact us.