General Family Law

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What is a Case Conference?

A case conference is a meeting between the parties, their lawyers, and a judge.  A case conference allows the parties and their lawyers to hear a judge’s opinion on the case at an early stage, before money is spent on motions and other steps.  During the case conference you will have an opportunity to:

  • Explore the chances of settling the case
  • Identify the issues in dispute
  • Explore alternative ways to resolve disputed issues
  • Ensure financial disclosure is made;
  • Make any admissions that may simplify the case
  • Set a date for the next step in the case
  • Agree to a specific timetable

What is a Settlement Conference?

A settlement conference can be thought of as a half way point in a matrimonial proceeding.  If you cannot settle your issues at a settlement conference then the next step is a trial.

Similar to a case conference, the settlement conference is a discussion between the parties, their lawyers and a judge about the issues in dispute.  It differs from a case conference in that the issues in dispute have been narrowed down since the case conference.  Also, there should have been full disclosure of financial and other documents.  This gives you and the judge a better idea of the theory of your case, and your likelihood of success.

What is a Motion?

A Motion is a court appearance where one side asks the court to make a temporary order on an issue in dispute, such as an order for temporary spousal support.  Once a temporary order is made it will last from the date the order is made until a future court date such as a trial or another Motion.

What is the Family Responsibility Office?

The Family Responsibility Office is Ontario’s maintenance enforcement program that administers and enforces child support and spousal support payments.  You can think of the Family Responsibility Office as a “middle-man”.   All support payments must be made to the Family Responsibility Office who then submits the payments to the recipient.

In Ontario, child support and spousal support orders are automatically filed with the Family Responsibility Office, unless the parties agree otherwise.  The Family Responsibility Office cannot change a support order or negotiate a reduction.

To contact the Family Responsibility Office go to

How long do I need to wait before I can get a Divorce?

In Ontario, you must be separated for one year before an order for divorce will be granted.  However, you do not need to wait one year to deal with other matrimonial issues, such as spousal support, child support, and division of property.

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a written contract created between spouses who want to live apart on certain terms and conditions.  It is made at the time of their separation.

The separation agreement will set out each party’s rights on issues such as: child custody, child support, child access, division of property, spousal support, and debts.

What is a cohabitation agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a written contract created between a couple who have chosen to live together.  A cohabitation agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement accept it applies to couples who are not planning on marrying.

A cohabitation agreement typically lays out terms for division of assets and spousal support that will take effect if the couple decides to live apart.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement (also called a premarital agreement or prenups) is a common step taken before marriage.  A prenuptial agreement is a written legal contract between two people who intend on marrying.  It establishes the property and financial rights or each spouse in the event of a divorce.