The Effect of Various Family Law Claims on Court Procedures

This page should be read together with Part One of this article Claims Or Issues in Family Law and the page about Family Court locations in the Greater Toronto Area (“GTA”). This page will not be of much use to people who live outside the GTA. The paragraphs below set out some of the ways that including a particular claim or issue in a family law case affects where the case will be heard; what forms are needed; and what procedures the court will follow.

Before we start, we need to review the three types of court that hear cases in the GTA:

  • Ontario Court of Justice (informally called “Provincial Court”)
  • Superior Court of Justice (informally called “Superior Court”)
  • Superior Court of Justice Family Court Branch (informally called “Unified Family Court”).

Be sure to note that (a) the Superior Court of Justice; and (b) the Superior Court of Justice Family Court Branch; are two different types of court with subtle but important differences in some procedures. York Region and Durham Region have each have one type (b) court and no type (a) court. Peel Region and the City of Toronto each have one type (a) court and no type (b) court.

1. In which municipality will the case be heard? That depends on the address where certain people live. If the case includes a a claim for Custody or Access, then it’s the children’s address that matters. Otherwise the Applicant chooses whether to use the Applicant’s or Respondent’s address. We’ll use the term “Key Address” but only on this page because it’s not a legal term.

2. In what level of court will the case be heard? This question does not need to be answered if the Key Address is in York Region or Durham Region because there is only one level of court in those regions – the Superior Court of Justice Family Court Branch – and it handles all family law claims. In Peel Region and the City of Toronto, the question matters. If the case includes a claim for Divorce or for Property (eg. Equalization Payment or Constructive Trust), then the Superior Court of Justice must be used. Otherwise, the Applicant can choose whether to file in the Superior Court of Justice or the Ontario Court of Justice (i.e., Provincial Court).

In Toronto, the Superior Court of Justice is located at 393 University Avenue and the Ontario Court of Justice (Provincial Court) is located at 47 Sheppard Avenue East and 311 Jarvis Street. The situation in Peel Region is a bit confusing. The Superior Court of Justice is located in the same building as the Ontario Court of Justice. Court forms for both courts are filed in the same Court Office. But the courts are still separate. This means that it really matters whether the words “Superior Court of Justice” or “Ontario Court of Justice” are typed at the top of court forms in Peel Region. In the City of Toronto, people can tell by looking at the court address what level of court is handling the case, but not in Peel.

3. Is a Form 35.1 Affidavit in Support of a Claim for Custody or Access needed?. Yes, if either party is claiming custody or access. Maybe, if a Restraining Order is being sought (depending whether the party seeking the order claim that the children need it).

4. Is a Financial Statement required? Almost always yes because almost always one of the financial issues is raised by one of the parties: child support, spousal support, property equalization or constructive trust. But if a case is limited to non-financial issues like custody, access and (usually) divorce no Financial Statement is needed. Note that even when a divorce is sought with the consent of both parties, the judge needs to be satisfied that adequate child support arrangements have been made if the parties have children.

5. Which version of the Financial Statement should be used? The shorter, simpler Form 13 Financial Statement (Support Claims) can be used if there are no property issues and the only financial issues are spousal and/or child support. The longer, more detailed Form 13.1 Financial Statement (Property and Support Claims) must be used if either side raises a property issue (eg., claims an equalization payment or constructive trust). Please note that a Form 13 Financial Statement (Support Claims) and a Form 13.1 Financial Statement (Property and Support Claims) are quite different documents. Note that both of these forms are different than the Form 4 Financial Statement used by the Family Responsibilty Office (“the FRO”) after a court has ordered child support or spousal support and the FRO has had to take enforcement action.

6. Will the case be on the “Fast Track”? The “Fast Track” and the “Standard Track” are terms used in the Family Case Management system. Case Management is used in Durham and York Regions and in the Ontario Courts of Justice in Brampton and Toronto (311 Jarvis and 47 Sheppard). Case Management is not used in the Superior Court of Justice in Brampton or Toronto (393 University) so the terms “Fast Track” and “Standard Track” do not apply in those courts. In the early stage of a case, the main significance of Case Management is that the court will set up the date for the Case Conference for Fast Track cases but the parties need set up the Case Conference themselves on the Standard Track.

Courthouse Fast Track Form 8 Cases?
Newmarket Yes, unless case includes a Property claim
Oshawa Yes, unless case includes a Property claim
393 University, Toronto Never
47 Sheppard, North York Always
311 Jarvis, Toronto Always
Brampton Yes in Provincial Court; No in Superior Court