Family Law Glossary

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access

Access is the time a parent spends with a child they usually don't live with. Access can be on a strict schedule, such as every other weekend, or on a flexible schedule, such as whenever the parents agree. In some cases, a parent might have supervised access where someone else watches the visit.

Access also includes the right to get information on the child's health, education, and well-being. Getting information is not the same thing as making major decisions about the child.

Other people, for example, grandparents, can also apply to the court for access.

advice counsel

Advice counsel are private lawyers or Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers located in all family courts who give basic information on family law to anyone who wants information. For example, advice counsel can explain legal terms, how to start or respond to a court application, and the court process.

If your income is low enough, advice counsel can also give you legal advice about child custody and access, child support and spousal support, dividing property, divorce, and most other family law matters.

alternative dispute resolution

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) refers to different ways or processes that try to get people to agree on their legal issues without going to court. Some of these processes are collaborative family law, mediation, and arbitration.

annulment

An annulment is a court order that your marriage was not valid from the start. You might get one if, for example, your partner was still married to someone else when they married you.

It is rare to get an annulment to legally end a marriage. Most of the time you need to get a divorce to legally end a marriage.

appeal

To appeal means to ask a judge or someone with more power to review a decision that you don't agree with.

Other parties who are affected by the decision can also appeal.

applicant

The applicant is the party who starts the court case. An applicant can be one person or a group of two or more people, a corporation, or an agency like the Family Responsibility Office, etc.

The person that they are making a claim against is called the respondent.

arbitration

Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution process where partners meet with a neutral person, called an arbitrator, to solve their issues without going to court. An arbitrator is usually a lawyer. A non-lawyer can also be an arbitrator if they have special family law training. If you and your partner cannot reach an agreement, the arbitrator makes a decision to solve your issues. Their decision is called a family arbitration award.

assets

Assets, sometimes called property, are money and anything you own that has value and can be exchanged for money. This can include cars, jewelry, land, and investments such as an RRSP or a pension plan.

bail hearing

A bail hearing is when the person charged with a crime goes to court after they have been arrested. At court, they ask a judge or justice of the peace to decide whether the police can continue to keep them in jail, or whether they must let you go.

The judge might give you "conditions" that you must follow if they let you go. For example, the court might order them to stay away from their partner.

balance of probabilities

Balance of probabilities is the standard or legal test of proof usually required in a family law case. The judge has to decide who is more believable - you or your partner.

best interests of the child

The "best interests of the child" is a test that the court uses to decide many things about children, such as custody and access. Before making a decision, a judge looks at things like:

  • the relationship between each parent and the child
  • how long the child has lived in a stable situation
  • each parent's plan to care for and bring up the child
  • in some cases, the child’s views and wishes 
  • if there has been abuse against any family member or any child
case conference

A case conference is a meeting between a judge and you and your partner, and your lawyers if you have any. The purposes of a case conference include:

  • figuring out the issues that need to be solved in your case
  • talking about ways to solve those issues without going to a trial
  • figuring out the information you and your partner need to share
child support

Child support is the amount of money that one parent pays to the other parent to support their child financially. The money is paid to the parent who has the child living with them most of the time. The person who pays child support is called the payor parent.

The amount of child support that the payor parent pays is usually based on the Child Support Guidelines.

Child Support Guidelines

The Child Support Guidelines are the rules used to calculate how much child support a parent pays to help support their child financially.

The Guidelines include amounts of monthly child support that are based on the income of the parent who is paying support and the number of children they have to support. There is a separate table with amounts for each province. The table amounts cover expenses like clothes, food, and basic school supplies.

The Guidelines also include special or extraordinary expenses that may be paid in addition to the table amounts.

Children's Aid Society

A Children's Aid Society (CAS) is a government agency that has a legal duty to make sure that children are protected from harm. In some places in Ontario, these agencies are called Child and Family Services.

closing statement

A closing statement is a summary of your evidence that you give the judge to tell them why you should get the court order you're asking for. It can only refer to the evidence that you, your partner, or other witnesses talked about at trial. It cannot contain any new information.

cohabitation agreement

A cohabitation agreement, sometimes called a domestic contract, is a written contract that non-married partners can make that says how they will deal with their issues while they are living together, after they stop living together, or if one of them dies. They can make this kind of contract before living together, or while living together. For example, a cohabitation agreement can say how much spousal support one partner will pay the other if they separate. It cannot say who will have custody or access to any children.

collaborative family law

Collaborative family law is an alternative dispute resolution process where you and your partner try to solve your issues without going to court. Collaborative family lawyers have special training and agree in writing not to go to court. You and your partner each have your own collaborative family lawyer. They work together with you and your partner to help you agree on your issues. Usually, this happens after many meetings.

If you or your partner cannot agree and later decide to go to court, you cannot use your collaborative family lawyers as your lawyers in court.

common-law relationship

A common-law relationship is one where partners of the same or opposite sex live together in a marriage-like relationship, without being married. This is sometimes called "cohabiting". You don't have to live together for a certain amount of time to be in a common-law relationship. But the law gives different rights to common-law partners depending on how long they've lived together or whether they have a child together.

consent order

A consent order is a type of court order that is based what the parties in a court case agree to.

cost consequences

Cost consequences are when one party has to pay some or all of the legal costs of the other party. Legal costs usually include lawyer's fees. It might also include other costs paid, such as the fee paid to have a pension valued.

The court decides when to make a court order for cost consequences. For example, it might order you to pay some of your partner's costs if it made the court order that your partner asked for.

court clerk

The court clerk is a person at the courthouse responsible for things like issuing documents, maintaining court files, and setting court dates.

court order

A court order is a decision made by a judge that requires a party to do something or not do something. A court order can be a temporary order or a final order.

cross examination

Cross-examination is when one party, or their lawyer if they have one, questions the other party's witnesses. The purpose of cross-examination is to test how true and reliable a witness' answers are.

Crown Attorney

The Crown Attorney, sometimes called the prosecutor, is a government lawyer who presents the case against the person accused of a crime in criminal court. They work for the government and are not the victim's lawyer.

custody

Custody is the right of a parent to make important decisions about how to care for and raise a child. It includes the right to make decisions about the child's health, education, and religion. Custody is not about which parent the child lives with or how much time a child spends with each parent.

There are different types of custody. Sole custody means only one parent has the right to make these decisions. Joint custody means both parents have the right to make these decisions.

Other people, for example, grandparents, can also apply to the court for custody.

debts

Debts are money that a person owes, for example, a mortgage, line of credit, car loan, etc.

default hearing

A default hearing is a court hearing where the person who pays support has to explain why they haven't been making support payments.

direct examination

Direct examination is when one party, or their lawyer if they have one, questions their own witnesses. These are witnesses you ask to testify or speak in support of your court case. Direct examination is also called examination-in-chief.

disbursements

Disbursements are extra costs related to your court case that you have to pay. For example, the cost of photocopying documents and court filing fees are disbursements. These amounts can be included in an order for cost consequences.

dispute resolution officer

A dispute resolution officer (DRO) is a senior lawyer who is trained to help people resolve their issues.

dividing property

To divide property is the process of dividing a married couple's assets and debts. This usually happens after they separate or divorce.

Married couples usually share the value of their property. This means that the partner who has more property usually pays money to the partner who has less property. Usually, the property itself is not physically divided.

This is not true for people in a common-law relationship. They usually don't have to share the value of their property if they separate.

divorce

A divorce is a court order that ends a marriage legally. Sometimes, you don't need to go to court, but at least one partner needs to fill out court paperwork to get the divorce order.

divorce order

A divorce order is an order from the court that legally ends a marriage.

domestic contract

A domestic contract is a written document that you and your partner can make that says how you will deal with your issues while you are together or at the end of your relationship. For example, you can say how much spousal support one partner will pay the other if they separate. A domestic contract might be called something else, including:

  • a cohabitation agreement if it was made before or while you were living together, and you and your partner aren't married
  • a marriage contract if it was made before you were married and you were planning to marry at the time, or after you got married
  • a separation agreement if it was made after you've separated from your partner
duty counsel

Duty counsel are private lawyers or Legal Aid Ontario staff lawyers who give legal help right away to people who appear in court that day without a lawyer if their income is low enough. They give free legal advice and can help negotiate and settle issues, but they can't take on a whole case or represent a person at trial.

endorsement

An endorsement is the written directions a judge gives you and your partner that says what you must do or not do. It is usually handwritten and put in your court file.

To make an endorsement into a court order, you or your partner prepare a document, called a draft order, that you both sign. You must do this if you want an order that is enforceable. This means the court can order you or your partner to do what the court order says. Sometimes the court clerk prepares the draft order.

equalization payment

An equalization payment is the money one married partner pays to the other to divide the increase in the value of the couple's property that happened during the marriage. Usually this means that all assets and debts are valued on the day the couple married and on the day they separated to find the increase in the value during their marriage. The equalization payment is paid after the partners separate.

To calculate the equalization payment, each married partner calculates their net family property. The partner with the larger net family property subtracts the other partner's smaller net family property to find the difference between both net family properties. This difference is then divided in half to get the equalization payment that the first partner pays to the other partner.

ex parte motion

An ex parte motion, sometimes called an emergency motion, is when you bring an urgent motion without notice to your partner. This means you don't have to serve your documents on your partner before the judge hears the motion and makes a decision. The reason for not requiring service may be because of immediate safety issues or because the delay would likely lead to something serious happening. You can only bring this type of motion in limited situations. For example, if you feel there is an immediate risk that your partner will seriously harm you or your children, or leave the province or country with your children and not bring them back.

examination-in-chief
exclusive possession

Exclusive possession is a court order that says only one partner can stay in, or return to, the home and the other partner isn't allowed on the property. If there are children, usually the order also includes that the children are allowed on the property. The order is usually temporary. The court doesn't decide who owns the home or who rented it when deciding which partner can stay in it.

family arbitration award

A family arbitration award is the decision that an arbitrator makes after hearing from both partners about their family law issues.

An arbitrator has to follow certain rules. For example, they have to keep a record of any notes they made during the arbitration. If these rules are followed, an arbitrator's award is enforceable. This means that the court can make a court order based on the family arbitration award, and that both partners must follow the order.

Family Responsibility Office

The Family Responsibility Office (FRO) is a government agency that enforces child support and spousal support payments. They collect support directly from the person who has to pay support, keep a record of the amounts paid, and then pay that amount to the person who has to get support.

If your partner misses payments, the FRO can take action to enforce your court order or separation agreement on support payments. For example, the FRO can take money from their bank account, suspend their driver's licence, or start a court case that can put them in jail.

family violence

Family violence refers to the many different forms of abuse, neglect, or harm that an adult or child may experience in their close, personal relationships. It is also called domestic violence or partner abuse when one partner abuses the other partner.

file

Filing your court documents means giving your court forms and documents to a court clerk at the courthouse to add to your court file. Every court form you fill out and all relevant documents you want a judge to look at have to be filed in court.

financial statement

A financial statement is a court form that has details about your income, expenses, assets, and debts. Usually, you and your partner each need to fill out a financial statement form if either of you are asking for a court order for one or all of the following:

impute income

Imputing income is when the court decides how much income a person makes or should be making. This figure is different from the income the person says they earn.

For example, if a person says that they have no income, but there is proof that they earn income in cash that they do not report on their income taxes, the judge can impute income. Or if a person quit their job so they wouldn't have to pay support, the judge can impute income.

independent legal advice

Independent legal advice (ILA) is when you and your partner get your own legal advice from different lawyers. The advice is independent because each lawyer is only working for one of you.

It is important to get ILA before you sign a separation agreement because:

  • a lawyer can tell you how your rights change once you sign the agreement
  • your agreement is less likely to be challenged later
  • a court is more likely to order you and your partner to do what you agreed on in your separation agreement
interim order
intestacy rules

Intestacy rules are the legal rules that say who inherits property when someone dies without a valid will. Common-law partners don't get anything under these rules. A married partner does inherit property under these rules. Children and other relatives may also inherit property under these rules.

issued

Most court forms that start a court process have to be issued. For example, your Application form has to be issued to start a court case. Your form is issued when the court clerk gives you a court file number and signs, dates, and applies the court seal to the upper left corner of your original form.

joint custody

Joint custody is a type of custody where both parents must agree on important decisions that affect their child. It includes decisions about the child's health, education, and religion. One parent cannot decide these things without the other parent agreeing.

Other people, for example, grandparents, can also apply to the court for custody.

Legal Aid Certificate

A Legal Aid certificate is a document that says Legal Aid Ontario has agreed to pay for a certain number of hours of a lawyer's time to work on your legal issues.

Not all lawyers accept legal aid certificates. You have to find a lawyer who agrees to work for you and agrees to accept your Legal Aid certificate.

Mandatory Information Program

The Mandatory Information Program (MIP) is a program for partners who are separating or divorcing. It gives them information about:

  • family law issues
  • the family court process
  • how separation and divorce affects adults and children
  • ways to solve issues without going to court
  • local resources and programs

In most situations, both partners must attend an MIP before their court case can move forward. The MIP is available at all family court locations across Ontario.

marriage contract

A marriage contract, sometimes called a domestic contract, is a written contract that partners can make that says how they will deal with their issues while they are married, at the end of the marriage, or if one of them dies. They can make this kind of contract before they marry if they plan to marry, or after getting married. For example, a marriage contract can say how much spousal support one partner will pay the other if they separate. It cannot say who will have custody or access to any children.

married

To be married or to have a marriage means that two people of the same or opposite sex had a marriage ceremony with someone that has the legal power to marry them. A marriage ends only by divorce, annulment, or the death of one of the partners. Being separated is not the same as being divorced.

matrimonial home

The matrimonial home is the property that was usually used by married partners as their family home at the time they separated. There can be more than one matrimonial home. Common-law partners cannot have a matrimonial home.

mediation

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process where partners meet with a neutral person, called a mediator, to try to solve their issues without going to court. A mediator is a person trained to help you agree on your issues without taking sides. Some lawyers, social workers, and other professionals are trained to be mediators. A mediator won't decide anything and won't force you or your partner to agree to anything. But, they try and help you speak with each other about your issues and understand each other's position. Their goal is to help you both compromise and come to an agreement.

mediation-arbitration

Mediation-arbitration is a process that tries to solve your legal issues without going to court. It combines the alternative dispute resolution processes of mediation and arbitration.

First, you and your partner meet with a neutral mediator, who is trained to help you agree on your issues without taking sides. Then, if you haven't been able to reach an agreement with the mediator's help, a neutral arbitrator decides what should happen. An arbitrator's decision is called a family arbitration award.

You and your partner can decide if you want the same person to act as mediator and then, if necessary, as an arbitrator. Or, if you want different people to be the mediator and arbitrator.

minutes of settlement

Minutes of Settlement is a document you and your partner sign that describes how you've decided to resolve your issues. It can be used to get a consent order.

motion

A motion is a court process a party uses to ask a judge to decide specific issues before a trial. 

motion to change

A motion to change is the court process you go through when you want a judge to change a court order or separation agreement that has been filed with the court. Sometimes a motion to change is also called a variation.

moving party

The moving party is the person asking the court to make an order after a motion.

negotiation

Negotiation is the process of trying to agree with your partner. Both partners usually need to agree to something other than what they had first wanted for them to agree. You can negotiate with or without a lawyer.

net family property

Net family property (NFP) is how much money a married partner is worth at the end of the relationship after taking into account what they brought into the marriage.

To calculate a married partner's NFP, usually you add together all assets minus all debts that they had on the day they separated from their partner. Then you also subtract all assets minus all debts they had on the date of marriage. Some assets or debts are treated differently in this calculation. For example, some gifts and inheritances are not included.

non-removal order

A non-removal order is an order a court makes to prevent one or both parents from taking their child out of a specified area, for example, the country or province.

offer to settle

An offer to settle is a written document that is sent by one party to the other party that says what they are willing to agree to in order to settle all or part of the issues.

Office of the Children’s Lawyer

The Office of the Children's Lawyer (OCL) is the government-funded office that represents children under the age of 18 in some court cases.

They are not automatically involved in all custody and access court cases. The OCL has to agree to accept your case. The OCL has clinicians and lawyers across Ontario. OCL clinicians, who are usually social workers, prepare custody and access reports about a child’s needs, views, and wishes. OCL lawyers represent children in court.

opening statement

An opening statement is what you tell the judge when your case starts. In it, you give the judge a summary of the:

  • issues your case is about
  • court orders you're asking for
  • evidence you will present to support the orders you want
parenting coordination

Parenting coordination is an alternative dispute resolution process that tries to help parents who have a court order or parenting plan resolve their issues without going to court. Partners meet with a neutral person, called a parenting coordinator, who helps them resolve their day-to-day conflicts about their parenting plan or order.

parenting plan

A parenting plan is a written agreement between parents who have separated or divorced that says how they will care for their children. For example, a parenting plan can say which parent is responsible for making decisions about their child's dental care, how they will handle emergencies, and how much time the child will spend with each parent. The plan can be a separate document or can be included as part of a separation agreement or court order.

parties

Parties are the people or organizations directly involved in a court case, contract, agreement, or other legal matter. For example, a party can be one person or a group of two or more people, a corporation, or an agency like the Family Responsibility Office, etc.

In most family law cases, both partners are parties but the children are not parties.

party

A party or parties are the people or organizations directly involved in a court case, contract, agreement, or other legal matter. For example, a party can be one person or a group of two or more people, a corporation, or an agency like the Family Responsibility Office, etc.

In most family law cases, both partners are parties but the children are not parties.

payor

The payor is a person who pays child or spousal support.

peace bond

A peace bond is a type of court order that is a signed promise, to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. It can include conditions. For example, your partner can promise not contact you or your children.

pension plan administrator

A pension plan administrator is a person or a group of people, who manage a pension fund. They are responsible for many things, including giving plan members certain information and making pension payments to them. A pension plan brochure or annual pension statement usually has contact information for its pension plan administrator.

primary residence

Primary residence is the place where your child lives most of the time.

probation

Probation is something a criminal court orders that you have to do. Probation usually comes with conditions. For example, you may have to report to a probation officer or go to a drug treatment program.

procedural order

A procedural order is an order for something that helps move your case along. For example, an order that has a timeline for you and your partner to exchange certain documents, or an order that gives you more time to file documents with the court.

process server

A process server is someone who is in the business of serving or giving documents to a party involved in a court case. To find process servers in your area, look in the yellow pages or visit www.canada411.ca and search for "process server".

property division

Property division is the process of dividing a married couple's assets and debts. This usually happens after they separate or divorce.

Married couples usually share the value of their property. This means that the partner who has more property usually pays money to the partner who has less property. Usually, the property itself is not physically divided.

This is not true for people in a common-law relationship. They usually don't have to share the value of their property if they separate.

re-examine

Re-examination is when a party, or their lawyer if they have one, gets to question their own witnesses again. This is done after direct examination and cross-examination. They can only ask the witness about anything new that was discussed in cross-examination.

reasonable arrangements for the children

Reasonable arrangements for the children mean that money or financial plans have been made to look after the children from a marriage. For example, plans have been made for child support.

reasons for judgment

Reasons for judgment is a judge's written or oral explanation of a decision they have made. If a judge gives oral reasons, they read the reasons for judgment out loud in court. The parties may order a transcript from the court to get a copy of the judge's reasons.

regular service

To serve a document by regular service means you have to give a copy of that document to your partner or their lawyer by either:

  • mail
  • courier
  • document exchange
  • fax
  • email

There are rules about how to serve a document by regular service that depend on how you serve the document. For example, you can serve a document by electronic document exchange or email only if the person you are serving agrees or you have a court order that allows you to serve documents this way.

Most documents can be served by regular service. In some cases, such as when you are starting a court case, you have to serve your document by special service.

residence

Residence is where your child lives.

respondent

The respondent is the party responding to the family law court case started against them. The party who starts the court case is called the applicant.

responding party

The responding party is the person responding to a motion. The moving party is the person asking the court to make an order after a motion.

restraining order

A restraining order is a court order that limits what a person can do in any way the family court thinks is appropriate to your situation. The order might limit where a person can go, or who they can contact or communicate with. For example, it can say one or more of these things:

  • your partner cannot come within 500 metres of you and your children
  • your partner cannot talk to or contact you or your children except through an agency or another person
  • your partner cannot come within 500 metres of your home and work
retroactive support

Retroactive support is child support or spousal support that you should have received before you started your court case, but did not get.

sentence

A sentence is the punishment that a criminal court gives to a person who is found guilty of a crime.

separate

To separate is when at least one partner decides to end their marriage or common-law relationship, and starts to behave in a way that shows they want to end the relationship. They only have to want to live "separate and apart" from their partner to legally separate. Separation and divorce are two different things.

separation agreement

A separation agreement, sometimes called a domestic contract, is a written contract that partners can make after they have separated or divorced that says how they will deal with their issues. For example, it can say how much spousal support and child support one partner will pay the other, and who will have custody of or access to the children. A separation agreement can deal with some or all of your family law issues.

serve

To serve is when one party in a court case gives their forms or documents to the other party in a way that is allowed by court rules. There are 2 main ways to serve documents – regular service and special service.

settlement conference

A settlement conference is a meeting between a judge and you and your partner, and your lawyers if you have any. The purposes of a settlement conference include:

  • talking about ways to solve those issues without going to a trial
  • if possible, obtaining the judge's view of how the court might decide the case
  • thinking about any matter that may help solve the case
shared care

Shared care, also called shared custody, is when children live at least 40% of the time with each parent. Shared custody may affect how much child support is paid.

shared custody

Shared custody, also called shared care, is when children live at least 40% of the time with each parent. Shared custody may affect how much child support is paid.

sole custody

Sole custody is a type of custody where only one parent has the right to make important decisions about how to care for and raise a child. It includes the right to make decisions about the child's health, education, and religion.

The parent with sole custody may have to discuss the issue with the other parent before making an important decision. But the parent with sole custody can make the decision even if the other parent disagrees.

Other people, for example, grandparents, can also apply to the court for custody.

special or extraordinary expenses

Special or extraordinary expenses are a type of child support that is paid in addition to the table amounts of monthly child support set out in the Child Support Guidelines. The table amounts cover expenses like clothes, food, and basic school supplies.

Special or extraordinary expenses cover things like daycare or university costs. These expenses must be reasonable given the family's financial situation and necessary because they are in the child's best interests. Both parents usually share these expenses in proportion to their incomes.

special service

To serve a document by special service means you have to give a copy of that document to your partner by either:

  • getting someone like a family member, friend, or process server to give the copy to your partner in person
  • giving the copy directly to your partner's lawyer
  • giving the copy to an adult living at the same home as your partner and also mailing a copy of the document your partner's address within one day
  • mail

There are rules about how to serve a document by special service that depend on how you serve the document. For example, you can mail the document but your partner must mail you back a special form to say that they received your document.

Some documents, such as documents that start a court case, must be served by special service. Most documents can be served by regular service.

split custody

Split custody is where parents who have separated or divorced have:

  • more than one child together, and
  • each parent has custody of one or more of their children.

Split custody may affect the amount of child support paid.

spousal support

Spousal support is money paid by one partner to the other partner after they separate or divorce. Spousal support is not automatic. The partner asking for spousal support must show that they have a legal right to spousal support.

If spousal support is paid, the partner with the higher income almost always pays support to the partner with the lower income. There are Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines that help lawyers and judges calculate how much and how long support needs to be paid. There is also an online tool that can give you a basic idea of how much and how long support needs to be paid.

Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAGs) are guidelines that can help you and your partner and the judge decide how much spousal support should be paid and for how long. These are only guidelines, not laws. A judge can order more or less support than what the guidelines say. The SSAGs use 2 different formulas. One is for partners who have no children together. The other is for partners who have children together. The formulas calculate a range of low, middle, and high support amounts, as well as the length of time spousal support might be paid.

summons

A summons is a legal document that requires a witness to appear in court on a specific date.

supervised access

Supervised access is a kind of access where someone else watches when a parent visits with their child. This might be another relative like the child's grandparent or uncle, or it might be someone from an agency like the Children's Aid Society. The purpose of supervised access is usually to make sure the child is safe.

supervised access exchanges

A supervised access exchange is when someone watches a parent pick up or drop off the child, but does not watch the access visit. Its purpose is usually to reduce conflict between the parents, or to protect one parent from being abused by the other parent.

surety

A surety is someone who agrees to be responsible for you if you’re charged with a crime and get out of jail on bail before your trial.

temporary order

A temporary order, also called an interim order, is an order that lasts until:

  • the period of time, or event, that the order deals with ends
  • another temporary order is made
  • a final order is made
trial management conference

A trial management conference is a meeting between a judge and you and your partner, and your lawyers if you have any. The purposes of a trial management conference include:

  • talking about ways to solve those issues without going to a trial
  • deciding how the trial will proceed if you cannot solve your issues
  • setting a trial date, if this has not already been done
undue hardship

Undue hardship means a payor parent doesn't have enough money to pay the child support they have to pay according to the Child Support Guidelines.

It can also mean that the parent receiving child support is finding it very hard to support the child with the amount they get according to the Child Support Guidelines.

Undue hardship is difficult to prove. If a parent can prove undue hardship, the court can order an amount that is more or less than what the payor would have usually paid according to the Child Support Guidelines.

variation

A variation is a change to a court order or other legal document. Sometimes the court process that asks for a variation is also called a motion to change.

witness

A witness is someone who gives information in court to help a judge decide a case. For example, a witness might be a friend or family member who can tell the judge what they know about things like your relationship with your child.

A witness usually gives this information by testifying in court. All parties in a case get the chance to ask a witness questions through direct examination, cross-examination, and re-examination. The judge may also ask the witness questions.