How to Prepare for a Case Conference in the Superior Court of Justice

This How-to brief outlines the steps to prepare for a case conference in a family law matter.

1Review Rule 17 of the Family Law Rules

  • Determine whether a case conference is required (i.e., in each case in which an answer is filed).
  • In child protection cases, a case conference may be conducted if a party requests one or if the court considers it appropriate.

2Set the date for the case conference

  • Either party may request the date for a case conference from the court clerk.
  • The date is set by having a Conference Notice (Form 17) issued by the clerk, served on the other party(ies) and filed with proof of service. (Check the procedure with each court as it may be different, i.e. Oshawa).
  • Try to schedule the earliest date, as, in some jurisdictions, there is a lengthy wait.
  • In some jurisdictions, the case conference date may be set when issuing the Application. In others, the Answer must be filed before a date is set.
  • (See the link to the above-listed Family Law Rules form in the Resources section of this How-To Brief)

3Prepare the documents for the case conference

  • Case Conference brief (Form 17A)(three copies)
    • The brief should contain a clear and concise summary of the issues, facts, and your position in terms of settlement and/or required "next steps".
    • Attachments may include copies of expert reports, support calculations or other documentary evidence
  • Include the most up to date Financial Statement (Form 13 or 13.1) or Affidavit (Form 14A)
    • Form 13 if claim is for support and not property and it is more than 30 days since the last financial statement was sworn
    • Form 13.1 if claim is for property whether or not there is a claim for support and it is more than 30 days since the last financial statement was sworn
    • Form 14A if there is no change from the last filed financial statement or if minor changes, outlining details of those changes (see Rule 13(12)(b) of the Family Law Rules).
    • Attach a copy of the Financial Statement to the Case Conference Brief and file the original in the Continuing Record
  • Net Family Property Statement (Form 13B) - if there is a property claim
  • (See the link to the above-listed Family Law Rules forms in the Resources section of this How-To Brief)
  • Affidavit of Service (Form 6B)

4Serve and file the forms

  • The applicant or person requesting the case conference must serve all the forms at least seven days before the case conference (however the Conference Notice (Form 17) should be served as soon as possible).
  • The opposite party must serve and file their documents at least four days before the case conference.
  • File the Affidavit of Service (Form 6B) and the Case Conference brief in the court file and not in the continuing record.
  • Update the Table of Contents in the continuing record.
  • (See the link to the above-listed Family Law Rules forms in the Resources section of this How-To Brief)

5File a Confirmation form

  • Each party must file a Confirmation (Form 14C) no later than 2:00 p.m. two days before the case conference to confirm attendance at the conference and that the matter is proceeding.
  • Note: No brief or other document intended for use at the conference can be served or filed after 2:00 p.m. two days before the conference.
  • (See the link to the above-listed Family Law Rules form in the Resources section of this How-To Brief)

6Attend at the case conference

  • The parties must attend the case conference unless the court orders otherwise.
  • If represented, the lawyer attending the conference must have full knowledge and authority in the matter.
  • The purpose of the case conference is to
    • explore the possibilities for settlement of the matter
    • identify the issues in dispute and those that can be agreed upon
    • discuss ways to resolve the issues in dispute
    • ensure disclosure of relevant evidence
    • note admissions that may simplify the matter
    • set the date for the next step
    • have the parties agree to a timetable for the steps in the case before trial, if possible
    • organize a settlement conference
    • timetable and give directions with respect to any intended motions including when the materials are exchanged and order the filing of summaries of argument, if appropriate
  • The judge may, at the conference, if appropriate to do so,
    • make an order regarding procedural matters such as document disclosure, questioning, timelines, or directions for the next step in the case, setting a date for a motion and for the filing of the materials for the motion
    • order the evidence of a witness at trial be given by affidavit
    • make a temporary or final order, if notice has been given
    • make an unopposed order or an order on consent
    • refer, on consent, the parties to alternate dispute resolution
    • set a trial date or trial of an issue
    • order costs

Tips for drafting a case conference brief

  1. Be brief and concise.
  2. The tone of the brief should be conciliatory.
  3. Use headings.
  4. Be resolution oriented.
  5. Be prepared to argue an issue if notice is given that the other side wishes the court to make an order.
  6. Be prepared to argue or respond to an argument for costs.

Resources

Statutes and Rules

  • Children's Law Reform Act
  • Divorce Act
  • Family Law Act
  • Family Law Rules (especially Rule 17)
  • Family Law Rules Forms
  • Child Support Guidelines (Ontario)
  • Courts of Justice Act

Other Resources

  • Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
Case Law
  • A.B. v. N.L.A. 2013 ONSC 2990
    • A review, on appeal, of the role of the Case Conference judge and the orders that can be made at a Case Conference
  • Merko v. Merko 2008 ONCJ 530
    • A court may make a final order at a Case Conference where the court has given clear notice to the parties that a final order might be made
  • Chand v. Chand 2010 ONSC 1599
    • Rules 2 and 17 of the Family Law Rules, when read together, require a justice to make orders at a Case Conference if they promote the primary objective in a manner that preserves procedural fairness.