Every item that you file with the court must also be “served” on (delivered to) the other party. The same is true for everything the other side files: copies will be served on you. This ensures that both of you are aware of the case you have to meet, and what evidence will be brought. There are very specific rules for how to serve the other party, because the court must ensure that service has taken place.
Once relevant documentation has been filed with the court, it is up to the party filing them to have the other party formally served. Rule 6 sets out the rules of service for all documents, and specifies various methods in which you can serve the other party (mail or courier to the other party’s lawyer, for example). The person who serves the documents must be over 18, and you cannot serve the other party yourself. A process server (a person whose job is to serve documents) is the safest way to ensure timely delivery.
The person who served the documents will have to complete Form 6B: Affidavit of Service, a sworn document outlining:
- What documents have been delivered;
- To whom they were delivered; and
- How they were delivered.
This Affidavit serves as proof for the court that the documents have been served.
If you cannot find the other party, or you know where they are but are unable to serve them for some reason, you can request substitute service, which will allow you to serve the documents on a third party (for example, a relative the other party is staying with) who will be able to deliver them. You will have to fill out a Form 14B: Motion, and request an order for substituted service, under Rule 6(15).
Rule 6(15) sets out what you must show in order to have the court grant your request: You must show the steps that have been taken to locate the person you need to serve (for example, internet searches, email or phone record searches, phoning relatives and friends), and what steps have been taken to serve that person, if you have been able to locate them. Then, you must explain what substitute method of service you are requesting, and why you know that this method of service will likely be successful in getting the documents to the other party.
Service can present various complexities, and ensuring full compliance with service requirements can help you avoid unnecessary pitfalls in your divorce, separation, or other family law matter. Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. provides various levels of legal service to clients across Ontario who are interested in obtaining unbundled or comprehensive legal representation related to their family law cases.
To find out how an Ontario divorce lawyer at our firm can help you, call (905) 581-7222.