The Family Court System in Ontario – General Overview

Family Court
The family court system in Ontario can appear complex for many. The purpose of this article is to give a general overview of the different type of courts in Ontario.

The courts in Ontario that deal with family law matters are the Superior Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice Family Court and the Ontario Court of Justice. This article will briefly explain what type of family law matters can be brought in each of these courts.

The Superior Court of Justice
This court can deal with cases relating to divorce, child custody and access issues, child support, spousal support and property matters. Pretty much any family law matter can be brought here, except for child protection proceedings.

Other distinctive features include:

  • The judges of the Superior Court of Justice are appointed by the federal government.
  • A party commencing an application in the Superior Court of Justice will need to pay court filing fees to start a case.

The Superior Court of Justice Family Court
This court is a branch of the Superior Court of Justice that operates exclusively in particular locations across Ontario. Currently, this court operates in 18 geographic locations across Ontario.

Due to its special status, this court has exclusive jurisdiction over all family law matters in its area. Basically, regardless of the type of family matter, parties will need to use this court to deal with their case.

The Ontario Court of Justice
This court has limited powers and cannot deal with all types of family law matters. In regions that have a Superior Court of Justice Family Court, the power of the Ontario Court of Justice to deal with family law matter is rendered inoperative. The judges of this court are appointed by the provincial government.

The Ontario Court of Justice can deal with child custody and access, child support, spousal support and child protection cases. This court cannot deal with divorces or property matters. Another difference is that of filing fees. This court does not charge court filing fees for family law matters.

Due to the complexity of family law it is always best to consult with a family lawyer to understand which court is best suited to deal with your family law matter. The type of relief sought, strategy, cost and time are all considerations that need to be looked at when deciding this issue. If you start a case in the wrong court, your case will not only be dismissed but you could end up wasting significant time and money due to this mistake. In more serious cases a judge can even order you to pay for partial or all of the legal fees that may have been spent by the opposing party in dealing with the case in the wrong court.

For more information about obtaining a divorce or family law matters, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer here.

NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult with a family lawyer

Other Articles to Read

The Family Responsibility Office

Court Costs in Family Law

Helpful Resources:

Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Spousal Support
Child Support
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments
Child Protection
Child Adoption

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