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Ministry of the Attorney General

Part 10: Motions to Change a Final Order or Written Agreement

A Guide to Procedures in Family Court

Ministry of the Attorney General

Created: September 2019

This guide does not provide legal advice. It is recommended that all parties seek legal advice where possible.

Inside this guide

  1. Information Before You Start Your Family Case
  2. Starting a Family Case
    • General Application
    • Simple Application (divorce only)
    • Joint Application
  3. Answers
  4. Financial Disclosure
  5. Filing Documents
  6. Serving Documents
  7. Required Steps
    • Mandatory Information Program
    • First Appearance
    • Conferences
  8. Motions
  9. Trial
  10. Motions to Change a Final Order or Written Agreement

Ce guide est également disponible en français.

ISBN 978-1-4435-8303-9 (Print)

ISBN 978-1-4435-8304-6 (PDF)

After you have resolved your family law issues, you may later want to change the terms of your court order or written agreement that has been filed with the court. For example, you may need to update the amount of child support if the person paying support has lost their job or is making more money since the order was made.

You must file certain documents, and you may have to appear in court. Depending on what you want to change and whether you and the other party agree, you will need to make:

  1. A motion to change, if you and the other party can’t agree on how to change your arrangement.
  2. A consent motion to change, if you and the other party agree and you want to change something other than child support only, such as custody, access, or spousal support (whether or not you also want to change child support).
  3. A consent motion to change child support, if you and the other party agree and want to change child support only (and not, for example, custody, access, or spousal support).

Rule 15 of the Family Law Rules tells you how to change a final order or written agreement.

The Right Municipality and Court

There are rules about where you can make motions to change, which are similar to the rules that apply as if you are starting a new case. There are two factors that you must consider: the right municipality and the right court.

For more information, see A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 1: Information Before You Start Your Family Case. You can also refer to Rule 5 of the Family Law Rules.

Assignees

When a person receiving child or spousal support payments is on social assistance, they may assign their support payments to a social service agency (such as Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program). This means that the agency is an assignee who receives the support payments.

If the support payments in your case are going to a social service agency, you must serve all your motion to change documents on the agency. A caseworker at the agency must agree to any changes to your support arrangement (even if you and the other party agree).

Making a Motion to Change

If you want to change a final order or written agreement, and the other party does not agree to the change, you need to:

  1. Identify and fill out your documents.
  2. Get your motion to change issued by the court.
  3. Serve all your documents.
  4. File proof of service.

Step 1: Identify and Fill Out Your Documents

You can find the court forms online or at any family court office.

You can complete the forms on a computer or by hand. Please make sure your handwriting is clear. Court staff can’t complete the forms for you.

You will need to swear or affirm that the information in some of your forms is true, and sign them in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits. There are commissioners for taking affidavits at all family court offices who will commission your forms for free. Remember, it is a criminal offence to swear or affirm a false or misleading affidavit.

To make a motion to change, you will need:

Depending on your circumstances and what you’re asking for, you will also need:

Step 2: Get Your Motion to Change Issued by the Court

After you complete all of your documents, you have to get them issued by the court. This means that a court clerk:

You should make copies of everything that the clerk returns to you in order to serve a copy on every party named in the case and any agency required to be served. Remember to also make a copy for yourself.

First Appearance

The clerk will give you a first appearance date if you make your motion to change at the Ontario Court of Justice or the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice.

The Superior Court of Justice does not schedule a first appearance when you issue your motion to change. You are responsible for scheduling your first court date, which is usually a case conference. More information about conferences is available in A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 7: Required Steps.

Dispute Resolution Officer Program

The Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) program operates in nine Superior Court of Justice or Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations: Barrie, Brampton, Hamilton, London, Milton, Newmarket, Oshawa (Durham), St. Catharines, and Toronto.

DROs are senior family lawyers who hear the initial case conferences for motions to change. If you make your motion to change in a court location where the DRO program operates, your first case conference will be with a DRO rather than a judge.

DROs provide an early, neutral evaluation of your case to help you and the other party:

Unlike a judge, DROs cannot make orders (even if you and the other party agree). However, a DRO can help you get a consent order from a judge.

Mandatory Information Program (MIP)

In some circumstances, you and the other party will be required to attend a free Mandatory Information Program (MIP) session. When the clerk issues your motion to change, you may receive two MIP notices – one for you and one for the other party. You will each be scheduled to attend different MIP sessions.

More information about the MIP is available in A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 7: Required Steps.

Step 3: Serve All Your Documents

If it isn’t safe for you or a friend or family member to serve the documents and you cannot afford to hire a professional process server, you can ask the court staff to arrange to have your documents served for you. You can get the name of a process server online.

For more information on how to serve court documents, see A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 6: Service. You can also refer to Rule 6 of the Family Law Rules.

Serving the Responding Party

After the clerk issues your motion to change, the following documents must be served on the other party:

Someone other than you (who is at least 18 years old) must serve your documents on the responding party, using special service. Special service means that the documents must be delivered to the respondent by a certain method (for example, by handing the documents to the respondent). You can ask a friend or a family member who is over the age of 18 to do this, or you can hire a process server to serve the forms for you.

The other party must receive your documents with enough time to complete, serve, and file a response before the first appearance or conference. The other party has 30 calendar days to respond after they receive your motion to change (or 60 calendar days if they were served outside of Canada or the United States).

Serving Assignees

If the support payments are assigned to a social service agency, you must serve a copy of your court-issued motion to change and all your other forms that you completed in Step 1 (including the Continuing Record) on that agency. You do not need to serve any MIP notice or blank forms on the agency.

You must serve your documents on the agency using special or regular service. You can personally serve assignees, and do not need to ask someone else.

If the agency responds by serving and filing a notice claiming a financial interest in your motion to change, the agency becomes a responding party in your case.

Step 4: File Proof of Service

You must complete Form 6B: Affidavit of Service (one for each party that was served). In this form, you give information to prove to the court that your documents were served on the other party and any agencies.

The person who served the documents (whether it was you or somebody else) must swear or affirm that the information in Form 6B is true, and sign the form in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits. There are commissioners at all family court offices who will commission the form for free.

Remember, it is a criminal offence to swear or affirm a false or misleading affidavit. It is your responsibility to make sure that the information in Form 6B is true.

After Form 6B is sworn or affirmed, you must file it at the court where you issued your motion to change. You will include Form 6B in the Continuing Record for your case and update the table of contents.

Responding to a Motion to Change

Step 1: Review the Forms that were Served on You

It is important to review the forms you’ve been served with because they will determine your next steps. Read all the forms and documents you received closely because they can include:

Step 2: Fill Out Your Responding Documents

You can find the court forms online or at any family court office.

You can complete the forms on a computer or by hand. Please make sure your handwriting is clear. Court staff can’t complete the forms for you.

You will need to swear or affirm that the information in some of your forms is true, and sign them in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits. There are commissioners for taking affidavits at all family court offices who will commission your forms for free.

If You Agree with the Changes

If you agree to the changes that the other party wants, you need:

If You Don’t Agree with the Changes

If you do not agree to the changes that the other party wants, you need:

Depending on your circumstances and what you’re asking for, you will also need to prepare:

You should make at least two photocopies of all your completed forms – one copy for yourself, one copy for the other party, and the original for the court.

Step 3: Serve All Your Documents

After you have completed, signed, and sworn or affirmed (if needed) your forms, you have to serve them on the other party and any assignee.

You can serve the documents yourself. Alternatively, you can ask a friend or a family member who is over the age of 18, or you can hire a professional process server to serve the forms for you. You can get the name of a process server online.

If it isn’t safe for you or a friend or family member to serve the documents and you cannot afford to hire a process server, you can ask the court staff to arrange to have your documents served for you.

Make photocopies of all your documents that you completed in Step 2 and serve them on the other party and any assignee:

There are rules about how to count time correctly. If you don’t follow the rules, court staff may not accept your documents.

See A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 6: Serving Documents for more information on service and counting time. You may also refer to Rule 3 or Rule 6 of the Family Law Rules.

Step 4: File Your Documents with Proof of Service

After you have served the other parties in your case:

See A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 5: Filing Documents for more information.

Next Steps

The next steps in your motion to change may include a:

More information about these possible next steps is available in A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 7: Required Steps.

You should always make sure you know what the next step is in your family court process. If you’re not sure, court staff or a lawyer can help you understand what steps may be required in your case.

Making a Consent Motion to Change

You can find the court forms online or at any family court office.

You can complete the forms on a computer or by hand. Please make sure your handwriting is clear. Court staff can’t complete the forms for you.

You will need to swear or affirm that the information in some of your forms is true, and sign them in front of a commissioner for taking affidavits. There are commissioners for taking affidavits at all family court offices who will commission your forms for free.

If you and the other party want to make a consent motion to change, you will need:

Depending on your circumstances and what you’re asking for, you will also need:

You should make at least two photocopies of all your completed forms – one copy for each of you and the original for the court.

You must file all your documents at the courthouse. For more information about how to file documents, see A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 5: Filing Documents.

If the judge grants the orders you want, the court will send you both the signed order in the self-addressed stamped envelopes that you provided to the court. If the judge does not grant the orders, the court will send you an endorsement that tells you why and any next steps you must take.

Making a Consent Motion to Change Child Support

You can find the court forms online or at any family court office.

You can complete the forms on a computer or by hand. Please make sure your handwriting is clear. Court staff can’t complete the forms for you.

To make a consent motion to change child support only, you will need:

You should make at least two photocopies of all your completed forms – one copy for each of you and the original for the court.

You must file all your documents at the courthouse. For more information about how to file documents, see A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 5: Filing Documents.

If the judge grants the orders you want, the court will send you both the signed order in the self-addressed stamped envelopes that you provided to the court. If the judge does not grant the orders, the court will send you an endorsement that tells you why and any next steps you must take.

Online Child Support Service

The Ministry of the Attorney General’s Online Child Support Service allows separated parents with non-complex child support cases to establish and update child support payments through an online portal, without going to court.