Part 2: Family Law Ontario – Applicable Procedure and Free Resources

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This is the second lecture on family law legislation, rules and resources. This lecture provides information about procedures that apply to family law disputes and lists some of the free resources available to general public in Ontario.

Family Law Rules:

Family Law Practice Directions:

Family Court Forms:

Legal Aid Ontario:

Justice Net:

Family Law Information Centres:

Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO):

Ministry of Attorney General Website:

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of Formative LLP.   Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals.  Subscribe today to learn more.


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Welcome to YouCounsel.

In one of our previous lectures we had explained the applicable legislation for family law disputes and we have gone through 4 different pieces of legislation and explained to you briefly what those pieces of legislation dealt with—what kind of family law issues they dealt with.

Today’s lecture is a continuation of the last lecture. We’re going to talk about the procedures that apply to a family law dispute and then some of the resources that are available for free for general public to understand the substantive part of your issues and the procedural part of it.

But we begin again with our usual disclaimer that this lecture is not legal advice. If you have any specific questions regarding your issues you should contact a lawyer or a paralegal or the Law Society of Ontario.

 Family law procedure: the first thing you need to know about family law is that family law has a separate set of Rules.  These are similar to the Rules of Civil Procedure but they are different in certain ways with respect to family law issues. I have provided the link: ( 

You can go to this website, follow the link and here you will see Family Law Rules.  It is very important to go through these Rules to understand the procedure that you need to follow with respect to your family law disputes. For example, Rule 5, here, it explains – it tells you where you can commence your application—where the case starts and has to be heard.  Which court would have the jurisdiction to deal with your matter?  You’ll have to read this Rule to understand which court you can go to and then follow these Rules.  Similarly, they will talk about the service of documents and how do you commence an application, how to answer and what not.  All of this is covered in the Rules here and you need to know the Rules.

Second item that you need to know is family law practice direction.  Often times, many individuals—self-represented litigants and sometimes even paralegals and counsel are not up to date on Practice Directions. Practice Direction is something that is issued by courts. These are also procedures which elaborate on the Family Law Rules that we talked about.  What the courts do in the family law Practice Direction is that it explains further how you deal with a family law matter in a specific court.  You go to this website: ( , which takes you to the Practice Directions of the courts in Ontario. Once you are in this main page you will see that there are Practice Directions that may be specific to the region that you are in. For example, if you’re in Toronto, then you click on that and you go to the Practice Directions that may apply province-wide but specific to Toronto. When you are dealing with a family law issue it is very, very important to go through these Practice Directions to understand what are the instructions—what are the requirements of the specific court that your case is being heard at.

For example, you’ll have to go through this consolidated provincial Practice Directions which apply to the entire province. Similarly, the Divisional Court Practice Directions apply province-wide.  Then there are Practice Directions for civil actions, applications, motions and procedural matters in Toronto region—so it is specific to Toronto. Then you scroll down here further and you will see a practice direction which is specific to family cases in Toronto region right.  This is specific to Toronto.  Then you’ll have to go through this Practice Directions to understand exactly what you need to do and why it is important.

 I’ll give an example here.  In case you are you are attending a motion in family court or you are attending a conference (you are required) each party to a motion or a conference must file either this form or that form or the parties may file one jointly no later than 2 pm, 3 business days before the date of the motion or conference. If you do not file this form in accordance with the time line here, then, your motion will simply not be heard.  You may not be able to attend the conference.

It is essential that everyone read through these Practice Directions and understand what needs to be done. There is a lot of stuff that is covered in these Practice Directions. For example, what is the procedure for factums, arguments and submission of brief authorities and how do you submit your trial record and whatnot. It is very important that you are familiar with Practice Directions and every time you are attending a court for your family law dispute, you review the Practice Direction to make sure that there is nothing new that you need to follow.

Finally, there are a number of forms that are used in a family dispute matter.  These forms are available free and you can use these forms here—from the law rule forms and you will see that all of the firms that you may need with respect to your dispute are available.  If you’re commencing an application the form is here; with respect to divorce there’s another form and so on and so forth.  We’ll talk about these forms and Rules in the following lectures.  For now, at least, I wanted you to know that these are the procedures and you can locate them easily and the Practice Directions and family court forms that you may need. (

There are many, many legal resources. I have provided some that I know of:

  1. Number one, is Legal Aid Ontario. Let’s go to their website ( Legal Aid Ontario is a free service (legal service) and you need to have a certain income level to qualify for legal aid. How do you apply for legal aid? You can go here.  You can see that on Legal Aid website it identifies that criminal legal issues, domestic abuse, family legal issues and so on and so forth, these are all the issues that you can get help for if you are able to meet that income criteria for Legal Aid.
  2. If your income is more and you are not able to get legal aid but it is still not enough that you could hire a lawyer on the standard rate, then there is something called Justice Net ( It is a not-for-profit organization.  A number of lawyers subscribe to this Justice Net. What they do—in Justice Net you are able to get lawyers on discounted rates.  If you’re not able to qualify for legal aid you can go to Justice net and find lawyers who are able to provide certain services on reduced rate. On this website you can go down, you can choose a professional area, if you’re looking for a family lawyer put in your postal code and you can find a number of lawyers who may be able to provide help on reduced rates.
  3. Another resource is called Family Law Information Centers: 


This is now operated by the Ministry of the Attorney General.  What is a Family Law Information Center? This is an office at a family court across Ontario.  Each Family Law Court has an office and they provide all kinds of information and guidance on family law disputes.  They even have at designated times a lawyer from Legal Aid Ontario who is also available to provide summary advice on your legal issue.  So Family Law Information Centers are very useful and they’re available across Ontario in family courts. You can explore this website and check that out.

     4.    Then there is an organization called Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO). They have their website ( which is an excellent, excellent resource for a lot of legal topics and information is available.  They have all of the topics listed here. On family law, you can check their website. There may be topics that they have covered and I have covered and I believe that their lectures are far better than mine so, if there’s an overlap by all means go to CLEO’s website and get that information.

    5.  Finally, the Ministry of Attorney General itself has a website that provides information. I have provided the link here ( You can go through the Ministry of Attorney General’s website and you can see that there are a number of topics that are covered.  There is legal information available.

The lesson to carry from today’s lecture and the last lecture is that it is important for you to understand what the applicable law is in your case.  It is essential that you know the procedure because if you do not follow the procedure you will not be able to get substantive justice that you’re looking for.  And then to know that there are multiple free resources available if you’re not able to afford a lawyer. You’ll have to do a bit more work obviously to understand the law yourself, to do your homework but you can also obtain information online and through Legal Aid Ontario or Justice Net and get your matters resolved. 

Hopefully that gives you an understanding of some of the resources that are at your hand and they are helpful to you in resolving your family law dispute.

Thank-you for watching.

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