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In today’s video, I will be speaking to you about the importance of family law procedure.

Procedures in Ontario family courts are regulated by the Family Law Rules, which Courts are required to apply to all family law cases. The Family Law Rules are the same in both the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.

Many clients come to us having researched their substantive rights under the Family Law Act or Divorce Act. They have a general idea about issues such as custody, access, or child support. However, they often know nothing about the Rules governing crucial time limitations, waiting periods, the different types of delivery required for various court documents, and so on.

It is important for family law litigants to understand the requirements of the Rules and the potentially devastating consequences of not following them.

For example, suppose a spouse drafts an Application to commence a family law case in court and chooses to simply e-mail a copy of the document to the Respondent. He or she might think the case can now move forward and be heard in court – but this is not the case! The Family Law Rules set out very specific requirements about the delivery of documents which start a court case. If the Applicant does not comply with these service requirements, and does not have a court order making an exception to the requirements, then the e-mail service will be deemed ineffective. A court cannot hear the issues in an unserved document, so the spouse will need to start over and deliver the materials properly.

This procedural mistake has delayed the start of the case and can cost the spouse time and effort. Other kinds of procedural mistakes could have even more serious consequences, including consequences which directly affect the outcome of the case. Frequent procedural errors might start to annoy the opposing party, court staff, or the judge.

Familiarity with the Rules can also help to strengthen your lawyer-client relationship. For example, if you understand the necessity of filing court documents on time, you can work diligently with your lawyer to ensure that those deadlines are met. This can make the difference between a court hearing your case or refusing to do so.

If you would like more information on the court process and how to handle your separation legally, please explore our website, or call 905-581-7222 to schedule your initial consultation. The Feldstein Family Law Group is happy to assist. Thanks for watching.