About Family Courts
In Ontario, family law matters are heard in the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice, or the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice, depending on the issue in dispute and where you are located in the province.
- Family Court (sometimes referred to as the unified Family Court)
- There are 17 Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice locations in Ontario: Barrie, Bracebridge, Brockville, Cobourg, Cornwall, Hamilton, Kingston, L’Orignal, Lindsay, London, Napanee, Newmarket, Oshawa/ Whitby, Ottawa, Perth, Peterborough, and St. Catharines. Where the Family Court branch exists, the court hears all family law matters, including divorce, division of property, child and spousal support, custody and access, adoption, and child protection applications. In all other sites across the province, family law matters are divided between the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice.
- Ontario Court of Justice
- The Ontario Court of Justice hears family law disputes that fall under most Ontario legislation. Issues include: custody, access, child and spousal support, adoption and child protection applications.The Ontario Court of Justice does not decide divorce or division of property matters.
- Superior Court of Justice
- The Superior Court of Justice can decide family law disputes involving divorce, division of property, child and spousal support, and custody and access.The court does not hear adoption and child protection matters, except on appeal.
Courts of Justice Act
FAMILY LAW RULES
The Family Law Rules are specialized rules of procedure for family law cases. They apply in the three courts that deal with family cases, the Ontario Court of Justice, the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice (Ontario’s Unified Family Court) and the Superior Court of Justice.
- The Family Law Rules tell you what steps to take and when, and which documents you need to give the other party and file with the court.
- The Family Law Rules will give you information about:
• Where a case should be started and where it will be heard
• How to serve documents (give them to the other party)
• Who are the parties
• How to start a case
• How to answer a case
• Financial statements
• Enforcement of orders
- The Ministry of the Attorney General has prepared Guides to Procedure to help you understand the rules as they apply in all three courts.
A Guide to Procedures in Family Court
- This guide does not provide legal advice.
The time period can only be extended by a judge if it is the best interests of the child.