Once you have filed all your pleadings and have participated in the Mandatory Information Program, the next stage in the divorce process involves formally organizing and reviewing the case before a judge. Here are the important points to know:
What is the Case Conference?
In Ontario Family Law matters a Case Conference is a mandatory procedure which is governed by the Family Law Rules. It is designed to encourage you and your soon-to-be Ex to sit down and organize your respective sides of the litigation, identify the issues, and – by way of an initial review before a judge – obtain input on the relative strengths and weaknesses of your respective positions and explore opportunities for settlement. It also allows an opportunity to identify any information that still needs to be provided by you or your Ex, and to schedule the next steps in the matter.
What Do I Have to Prepare?
Prior to the Case Conference date (which is set with your and your Ex’s consent), a summary of your case, called a “Case Conference Brief”, must be prepared by each of you, and served and filed with the court.
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What Happens at the Case Conference?
Both of you attend the Case Conference with your respective lawyers. The judge will review the case, provide procedural directions, schedule deadlines for providing information or making financial disclosure, and appoint the Children’s Lawyer if appropriate. He or she may also provide input on the case’s contentious issues, comment on the strengths and weaknesses of your respective legal positions, and refer you and your Ex to mediation. The possibility of settling any of the issues between you will be explored, and if consent can be achieved, the judge will make an order accordingly. Only rarely will a judge make a formal order at a Case Conference that does not involve you and your Ex consenting.
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