Starting Down The Road To Divorce Court

Over the last few weeks, our blog posts have looked at various alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods for resolving family law matters. When these out-of-court forums fail, asking a judge to decide is usually the last option. This week, we begin a new series to uncover the rules and processes of going to court to settle legal issues arising from a relationship breakdown.

When Going To Court Makes Sense

For most disputing parties, litigation is a last resort. It’s expensive, time consuming, adversarial in nature and riddled with a plethora of rules at every step of the process.

Starting down the path to litigation means relinquishing control of both the process and the end result. Yet for some ex-partners, starting a court case may, in fact, be the right choice from the outset. When? In cases where certain factors could make ADR options inadvisable, such as:

  • Family violence, significant power imbalances or intimidation
  • One side suffers from serious mental health problems or drug abuse
  • The disputing parties cannot talk or cooperate in spite of professional facilitation

Who Sues Whom? And Where?

In a divorce case, the first party who initiates the litigation is the applicant. The other side becomes the respondent. The applicant must gather the prescribed documents together and “serve” them to the respondent – a process we’ll discuss in a future post.

Although Ontario has three courts for family law issues, the court case must be started at the correct one. Our next post will discuss the rules surrounding the choice of court.

Separating or divorcing?

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