The Divorce Process, Stage Five: Commencing Litigation

Once initial negotiations have taken place, it may become clear that you and your Ex are unable to resolve all of the issues that still remain between you.  It will then be necessary to officially commence the process of litigating any remaining disputes within the Ontario Family Court system.

1.  The Application

The first step in this process is generally the commencement of an Application, which is a written document in a specific format that is submitted to the court.   Either you or your Ex can commence the Application; the person who does so is called the “Applicant”, and the other spouse is the “Respondent”.   Given that it is a formal court document, whoever files the Application must formally serve it on the Respondent as well; otherwise it is not legally effective.

The key parts of the Application is the recitation of facts, as well as  the itemization of the various items you want awarded as part of the divorce process (which is known as the “relief” that is being claimed).   As has been explained before, you and your Ex must each prepare a Financial Statement, and this will be filed with the Court as well.

2. The Answer

Assuming you are the Respondent, once the Application has been served on you the next step is for you and your lawyer to prepare an Answer and file it within 30 days.  As the name suggests, it is the formal document which embodies your responses to the various claims that your Ex has put forth in the Application.   This is the chance to formally agree to or concede any facts that you do not dispute, and for you to put forth any additional facts that you feel have been left out.   This will also be the opportunity for you to put forward against your Ex any claims for relief of your own.

If you fail to file an Answer within the deadline, then your Ex can proceed with the litigation – right up to and including trial – without having to give you further notice of any steps.  It is therefore important for you to get timely advice and legal representation right from the outset.  

3.  The Reply

After the Answer has been filed by whichever of you is the Respondent, the Applicant will also have a chance to submit what is known as a Reply, which is an opportunity to respond to any new claims that have been put forward in the Answer.

Next article:  Mandatory Information Program

At Shulman Law Firm, we can help you navigate the process of litigating your Family Law dispute.  Call us for a free consultation.

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