Your First Appearance & Case Conference
Bringing Clarity to the Divorce Process in Ontario
For some cases at the Superior Court, and all cases at the Ontario Court of Justice, a first court date, or first appearance, is a required next step after your MIP session. Your first appearance will be scheduled when you (or the other party) file your application. The clerk will schedule the date and note it on the application. The first appearance is a purely administrative meeting; you and the other party and your lawyers will typically meet with a clerk (it is rare to go before a judge for this appearance), who will ensure that all relevant documents have been filed with the court and served on the other party. The clerk can then schedule the first case conference. In some jurisdictions, the parties can waive the first appearance, if they mutually agree to do so, by filling out a specified form. In other jurisdictions, your lawyer can attend your first appearance on your behalf.
If you have had your first appearance, or if your matter does not require a first appearance, your next step will be a case conference. If one is not already scheduled for you, one of the parties must ask the court staff to schedule the case conference. At the case conference, all parties and their lawyers (if one or both parties has legal representation) must be present. You will meet with a judge, who will discuss with you the issues that remain in dispute, the chances of resolving those issues and settling your case, and whether all necessary information has been disclosed. Each party will be invited to speak and to give their side of the case. The judge will likely then ask follow-up questions of each party, to gain greater understanding of the issues and of each party’s position.
At the case conference, the judge can also make a variety of procedural orders, such as that the parties pursue mediation, or produce certain documents. If the parties are able to agree on the resolution to an issue at a case conference, the judge can also make an order incorporating a resolution agreed upon by the parties. The judge will then set a date for the next step. At all subsequent conferences, you will see the same judge.
Each case can have more than one case conference. You or the other party can request additional case conferences at any time in the process. A case conference is a requirement before either party can bring a motion, because a party can only bring a motion on a matter that has been discussed at a case conference.
Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) Case Conferences
If your matter is a motion to change and you are appearing in Ontario, your case conference may be conducted by a Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO), as part of the Dispute Resolution Officer Program. The DRO cannot make orders regarding your case or award costs, but he or she will assist the parties in identifying and attempting to resolve their issues, ensuring all relevant documents have been disclosed, and, if the parties are able to agree on resolution to some issues, assisting them in obtaining a consent order from a judge. Following a case conference, you can schedule a subsequent case conference with a judge, or a settlement conference. At the Newmarket court, you are required to have a case conference before a judge before you can schedule a trial.
Scheduling a Case Conference
Rule 17 of the Family Law Rules governs case conferences, settlement conferences, and trial management conferences. To schedule a case conference, you will need:
- Form 17: Conference Notice. This provides the other party with notice of the case conference.
- Form 17A: Case Conference Brief.* This form summarizes the issues in the case and the facts that support your pleadings on those issues. The other party will also file a brief, and the judge will read both parties’ briefs before the case conference. (If you are unsure of your ability to draft a concise and effective conference brief, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to do so.)
- If your financial statement was filed more than 30 days ago, you will also need to file either:
- Form 14: Affidavit indicating there have been no changes to your financial information;
- A new Form 13 if there have been changes; or
- An affidavit setting out any minor changes, if there have been only minor changes.
- A copy of the continuing record. The party who starts a case must keep a continuing record of the case, which will be the court’s permanent record. See Rule 9 for instructions on creating and maintaining this record.
- Any other supporting documents.
These documents must be served on the other party at least 7 days before the case conference date. If you receive a notice of case conference from the other party, you must file your case conference brief and other supporting documentation at least 4 days before the case conference date.
Two days before the case conference, each party must also file a Form 14C: Confirmation of Case Conference.
Case Conference Preparation & Representation in Ontario
If you are looking for any level of legal representation, guidance, or advice related to your case conference, Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. can help. Because we offer comprehensive and unbundled legal services, our Ontario divorce lawyers can effectively address your specific needs and budgetary concerns.
Call (905) 581-7222 today to schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers.
*If your case conference is a DRO case conference, you are not required to file a case conference brief, but all other elements of Rule 17 apply.
Andrew Feldstein Founder
Andrew Feldstein graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1992. Prior to focusing exclusively on family law, Andrew’s legal practice covered many different areas, including corporate commercial. One of Andrew’s fundamental objectives is to achieve those goals mutually and collaboratively, as set out by him and his client.
Daphna Schwartz Lawyer
Daphna Schwartz joined Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2007 as an associate lawyer. She was previously practising family law in the Barrie area. Her practice includes all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and property issues. Daphna is also qualified to practise Collaborative Family Law.
Anna Troitschanski Lawyer
Anna Troitschanski joined the team at Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. in 2012. Prior to that, she practised Family Law at a boutique Newmarket firm. Her experience covers all areas of divorce and family law, including custody and access, child support, spousal support, and division of property.
Nick Slinko Lawyer
Nick Slinko attended York University from 2003 until 2007 where he majored in both Law & Society and Philosophy. Nick graduated in 2007 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree. He proceeded to earn a Juris Doctor in Law at the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Nick was Called to the Bar in June of 2012 after completing his Articling term with the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. He became an associate with the firm immediately thereafter.
Veronica Yeung Lawyer
Veronica Yeung joined the Feldstein Family Law Group, P.C. as a summer student in 2014 and returned as an articling student in 2015. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2016, Veronica was welcomed to the team as an associate lawyer.
Veronica attended York University for her undergraduate studies and graduated as a member of the Dean’s Honour Roll when she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Honours Criminology.
Shana Gordon-Katz Lawyer
Shana joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. as an articling student in 2017. Following her call to the Ontario Bar in June 2018, Shana was welcomed back to the firm as an associate. While completing her articles, Shana assisted with legal matters covering all areas of family law.
Shana attended the University of Western Ontario for her undergraduate studies, where she graduated as the gold medalist of her program, Honors Specialization in Classical Studies.
Rachel Zweig Lawyer
Rachel joined Feldstein Family Law Group P.C as a Summer Student in 2019 and returned as an Articling Student in 2020-2021. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in April 2021, Rachel was welcomed back to the firm as an Associate.
Prior to completing her legal studies and obtaining her Juris Doctor at the University of Ottawa, Rachel obtained her Bachelor’s Degree at Ryerson University with a major in English Literature.
Lauren Harvey Associate Lawyer
Lauren joined Feldstein Family Law Group as a Summer Student in 2020 and returned as an Articling Student in 2021-2022. Following her Call to the Ontario Bar in April 2022, Lauren was welcomed back to the firm as an Associate.
Prior to completing her legal studies and obtaining her Juris Doctor at the University of Western Ontario, Lauren obtained her Honour’s Bachelor of Arts Degree at Wilfrid Laurier University majoring in Criminology and minoring in Law and Society.
Quinn Held Associate Lawyer
Quinn spent two years as a Summer Student and then completed her Articling term at a boutique Family Law firm in Orangeville, where she was exposed to various complex Family Law matters. Following her Call to the Bar of Ontario in June 2022, she became an Associate with the Feldstein Family Law Group.
Prior to obtaining her Juris Doctor from the University of Windsor, Quinn obtained her Honour’s Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Guelph majoring in Criminal Justice and Public Policy and minoring in International Development.