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Family Law Litigation

Family Court

first court appearance miltonFamily Law litigation is by nature adversarial and costly. The Court process is complex and requires knowledge of the Family Law Rules, the Rules of Civil Procedure, the legislation, and the case law. It is not a process you should attempt alone. Counsel at Bombardieri Family Law are experienced and confident litigators and fearless advocates for our clients. Whether you are initiating Court proceedings or are defending against your former spouse’s claims, our Team works to ensure you are successful in obtaining the relief you need.

Our Team encourages clients to take reasonable positions and only to engage in Court proceedings if it is necessary. In the event that our clients are in Court, we take all the steps necessary to insulate our clients from cost consequences (ie. serving Offers to Settle, working to negotiate settlements, etc.) and we regularly obtain significant cost awards in favour of our clients.

The Bombardieri Family Law Team attends proceedings in the Ontario Court and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Hamilton, Milton, Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, and St. Catharines.

Commencing Court Proceedings or Responding to Claims Made by the Opposing Party

To initiate Court proceedings one party generally commences an Application or Motion to Change by serving his or her former spouse with the document and filing it with the Court. If you are served with Court documents, you must respond within the prescribed time frame. If you need to commence court proceedings or have been served with Court documents you should immediately retain Counsel to represent you in the proceedings.

The typical motion involves things such as child support, spousal support or custody and access of the children. These issues are extremely important to the parties involved, and thus motions are amongst the most serious events in a Family Law proceeding.

Case Management System

Pursuant to the Family Rules which became effective on July 1st, 2004 in Ontario, every case is now operating under a Case Management System.  This means that Family Law litigants are required to attend a series of Conferences at the Court. Depending on whether you are able to resolve your matters before a Trial, this can include a Case Conference, a Settlement Conference, and a Trial Management Conference.

Case Conference

A Case Conference is the first court step in any matter.  A Case Conference is held at the Court House, usually in a Courtroom, in front of a Judge, generally in the presence your former spouse and his Counsel and you and your Counsel.

The purposes of a Case Conference include:

  • Exploring the chances of settling the case;
  • Identifying the issues that are in dispute and those that are not in dispute;
  • Exploring ways to resolve the issues that are in dispute;
  • Ensuring disclosure of the relevant evidence;
  • Noting admissions that may simplify the case;
  • Setting the date for the next step in the case;
  • If possible, having the parties agree to a specific timetable for the steps to be taken in the case before it comes to trial;
  • Organizing a settlement conference, or holding one if appropriate; and
  • Giving directions with respect to any intended motion, including the preparation of a specific timetable for the exchange of material for the motion and ordering the filing of summaries of argument, if appropriate.

The way in which the Case Conference is conducted largely depends on the Judge attending the Conference.  There are times when the Judge just meets with the lawyers and does not invite the clients to participate, and at times, lawyers and clients participate.  You are required to file a Case Conference Brief prior to date of the Conference. The Case Conference Brief is a summary of the facts in your case and your preferred settlement.   Generally, if you cannot settle all of your matters at a Case Conference, a Settlement Conference will be scheduled.

Settlement Conference

court settlement divorceA Settlement Conference is the next step after a Case Conference.  A Settlement Conference is held at the Court House, usually in a Courtroom, in front of a Judge, generally in the presence of your former spouse and his Counsel and you and your Counsel.

The purposes of a Settlement Conference include:

  • Exploring the chances of settling the case;
  • Settling or narrowing the issues in dispute;
  • Ensuring disclosure of the relevant evidence;
  • Noting admissions that may simplify the case;
  • If possible, obtaining a view of how the court might decide the case;
  • Considering any other matter that may help in a quick and just conclusion to the case;
  • If the case is not settled, identifying the witnesses and other evidence to be presented at trial, estimating the time needed for trial and scheduling the case for trial; and
  • Organizing a trial management conference, or holding one if appropriate.
  • Giving directions with respect to any intended motion, including the preparation of a specific timetable for the exchange of material for the motion and ordering the filing of summaries of argument, if appropriate.

If you cannot settle your matters at a Settlement Conference, a Trial will be scheduled and you will be required to attend at a Trial Management Conference.

Trial Management Conference

The Trial Management Conference is the last step in the Court process before the Trial. Although Judges will try to help parties narrow or resolve their issues at this Conference, the purpose of the Conference is to set out the procedure for Trial.  Each party is required to file a Trial Management Conference Brief which includes an outline of their Opening Statement and a list of witnesses they intend to have testify at Trial.

Trial

divorce court oakville burlingtonA Trial is the final stage in Court proceedings. Depending on how many issues need to be resolved and the complexity of the issues, a Trial can run anywhere between half a day to multiple weeks. Upon completion of the Trial, the presiding Judge will render a decision about how the outstanding issues between the parties will be resolved. This is called a Final Order and the parties are required to adhere to the terms of the Final Order. A Trial is different than a Motion. Generally, at a Motion, Affidavits are filed with the Court, Counsel makes submissions to the Court and the Court makes a decision based on the Affidavit evidence and the submissions of Counsel. At Trial, both parties (and others) will be required to testify under oath. In other words, both parties will be orally examined by their respective Counsel and cross-examined by opposing Counsel.

Counsel at Bombardieri Family Law have extensive Trial experience and have successfully obtained many Trial decisions wherein their client is awarded the relief he or she was seeking.

Motions

Pursuant to the Family Law Rules, once a Case Conference has been held, if it is necessary, either party can proceed with a Motion for interim (temporary) relief pending Trial. To proceed with a Motion you must serve and file a Notice of Motion setting out the Orders you are asking the Court to make on the Motion and a sworn Affidavit detailing the facts and evidence you are relying on to obtain the Orders. At a Motion, Counsel makes oral submissions based on the Affidavit evidence and parties are not required to testify. Often, the losing party on a Motion will be ordered to pay the costs to the successful party.

Questioning

Questioning is the process by which Counsel obtains information and evidence from the other party that is relevant to the case. Questioning is an out of Court process and is very similar to being cross-examined in a court room. Questioning usually occurs at a Reporting Centre and you will be required to swear or take an oath that you are telling the truth. The questioning will be recorded by the Reporter and a transcript of the questioning can be ordered by either party. If you go to Trial, the transcript will likely be filed with the Court.

Request a consultation

Request a consultation with Bombardieri Family Law to discuss representation during your divorce or separation.