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Ministry of the Attorney General

Part 2: Starting A Family Case

A Guide to Procedures in Family Court

Ministry of the Attorney General

April 2012, Revised 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

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

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

To begin your family court case, you have to complete and file an application at the court with information about:

You have to fill out one of the following applications to indicate which issues you want the court to look at:

  1. A general application (Form 8) if you and the other party can’t agree on how your family matters should be resolved and you’re making claims other than a divorce (whether or not you’re asking for a divorce too).
  2. A simple application (Form 8A) if you and your spouse can’t agree and the only claim you’re making is for divorce.
  3. A joint application (Form 8A) if you and the other party both agree to a divorce and agree on all other family law matters like custody, access, support, and property.

Rule 5 and Rule 8 of the Family Law Rules tell you about how to start a family law application.

Steps to Filing an Application

Step 1: Fill Out Your Application and Supporting 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.

Forms for a General Application

To start a general application, you need to fill out:

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

Forms for a Simple Application

To start a simple application for a divorce only, you need to prepare:

Forms for a Joint Application

If you and your spouse are asking for a divorce together, you will need to prepare:

If you and your spouse are together asking for orders other than a divorce, you will also need to prepare:

Get Help Completing Your Court Forms

If you want help filling out the forms and you don’t have a lawyer, you can:

You can find more information about these resources in A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 1: Information Before You Start Your Family Case.

Step 2: Get Your Application Issued by the Court

After you complete all 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 the respondent and any other person or agency that needs to be served. Remember to also keep a copy for yourself.

Court Filing Fees

If you are starting your case at the Superior Court of Justice or the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice, you may be required to pay a court fee or qualify for a fee waiver. If you’re eligible for a fee waiver, you won’t have to pay most fees. Learn more about fee waivers.

There is no fee to file documents at the Ontario Court of Justice.

More information about court filing fees is available in A Guide to Procedures in Family Court, Part 5: Filing Documents.

First Appearance

The clerk will give you a first appearance date if you start your case at the Ontario Court of Justice or the Family Court Branch of the Superior Court of Justice, unless you’re asking for a divorce or making claims related to property.

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

Mandatory Information Program (MIP)

In most circumstances, you and the respondent will be required to attend a free Mandatory Information Program (MIP) session. When the clerk issues your application, you will receive two MIP notices – one for you and one for the respondent. 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 you filed a general or simple application, the following documents must be served on the respondent: