Steps in the Process

It’s not easy to understand the steps in the family law process and know what to expect at each step. Over and over, family law self-reps complain about the difficulty they have in navigating the system.

Here are some sites that will help

Steps in a Family Law Case

This flowchart scores 11 out of 10 on the scale of best sites available to help guide a self-rep through the process. It’s terrific! If you’re acting for yourself and won’t be getting any additional assistance, live on this site.

It’s easy to use, superbly organized, simple to understand, and it has a list of the court forms you need, the Family Law Rules that apply, and an outline of what you need to do in straightforward, plain, language. Clicking on the forms or the Rules brings up what’s referred to so you can print off what you need.

This is the place to start – and keep returning to – if you’re acting for yourself and want to know what you have to do at each stage and get the description and forms you need to do it.

Bookmark this site and check it every time you move to the next step in your proceeding.

A Guide to Process for Family Cases at the Superior Court of Justice

This is a 54-page document you can download that’s filled with helpful information for every stage of a family law case.

Coping With the Courtroom: Essential Tips and Information For Self-represented Litigants

This is a publication from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project spearheaded by Dr. Julie Macfarlane from the University of Windsor.

Not every section is relevant to every self-rep, so you won’t have to read the whole document, you’ll find helpful information for each stage in the process.

A Guide to Procedures in Family Court

This is a 9 Part set of Guides to the various steps in a Family Law proceeding published by the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. Each section is brief and to the point. This is a great introduction to the process.

Asking for a custody or access order

Also from the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, this is an incredibly detailed and informative guide. If you have a custody or access issue, this has a helpful self-help guide about “How to complete Form 35.1: Affidavit in Support of Claim for Custody or Access”.

We recommend using this along side of the “Steps in a Family Law Case Flowchart”, referred to above.

Tips on Serving Documents

A 2-page handout with tips on serving documents.

“Settlement Smarts” For Self-Represented Litigants: How To Use Settlement Processes Knowledgeably and Effectively

This is another publication from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project and goes through the basics of settlement, why you’d use one, and how it can be done.

The last 2 sections get down to the nitty-gritty by dealing with “Negotiation and Offers to Settle” – absolutely fundamental information for every self-rep – and “Advice from other SRLs” (Self Represented Litigants).

In addition to knowing how to get through the system, you need to know how to get out of the system. This is a really helpful booklet. Everyone in the system needs to know about settlements.

The CanLII Primer: Legal Research Principles and CanLII Navigation for Self-Represented Litigants

There’s no way around it. Doing legal research for yourself isn’t easy. This publication by the National Self-Represented Litigants Project aims to help self-represented litigants (SRLs) search Canadian law for more effective preparation and presentation of their case, whether for court or settlement negotiations. It does this by showing you how to use CanLII.

CanLII (The Canadian Legal Information Institute) has a huge searchable base of reported Canadian legal decisions. This Primer helps show you how to use it and how to search for cases of relevance to you.

If you need to do some legal research, this Primer is where to start.