If you’re going through a divorce or separation, there are various issues that need to be resolved including support, property division and parenting. If you and your partner are unable to reach a settlement either between yourselves or with the assistance of a mediator, your next option may be to get your matter resolved in court.
While we always recommend alternative dispute resolution processes like negotiation, mediation, or collaborative family law, there are times where an Order is crucial, and court is the only way to get a resolution.
There are various steps in the court process and before retaining us to represent you in your family litigation matter, we go over the steps in as much detail as you need to understand the process. The main parties in a family court proceeding are called the Applicant and the Respondent. The Applicant starts the case and the case may be started:
- Where the Applicant lives
- Where the child habitually resides if a parenting order is sought
- With the courts permission, in a municipality chosen by the parties
Every family court process starts with an Application. If you are making a claim for support or property division, you have to include a financial statement. If there are parenting orders sought, then you must also include an Affidavit (decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact).
Depending on where the Respondent lives, an Answer is required within 30 – 60 days of being served with the Application. In addition to the Answer, a financial statement and an Affidavit (decision-making responsibility, parenting time, contact) may be required, depending on the claims made against you or the claims that you would like to make against the Applicant, or other added parties.
A first appearance at the court may be required at which time, a case conference date would be set. If a first appearance is not required, then the parties can schedule a case conference through the trial coordinator’s office.
Before your matter goes to a trial, you would usually be required to attend a case conference, settlement conference, and trial management conference. In many cases, you may attend any of these conferences more than once. The goal of these conferences is usually to help settle or narrow the issues or to simply the case in anyway.
Most cases settle before Trial but if unfortunately, your matter has to proceed to a trial, it is important to have strong legal representation from an experienced trial lawyer. We develop your case strategy, ensure you have the best evidence possible and prepare you and your witnesses for examination and cross-examination.
Equally important, we help you put together the best offer to settle possible so as to avoid Trial if possible. We are candid with you on the issues where you will likely be successful, and those where the law is not on your side. If after exploring all possibilities to settle, the other side remains unwilling to settle, you can count on our team to make sure your case is presented in the best way possible to ensure success.