About Family Proceedings
The Superior Court of Justice is committed to ensuring an accessible and effective family justice system at all Superior Court sites throughout Ontario.
Family cases are heard at all Superior Court locations across the province; however, family law involves both federal and provincial legislation. As such, jurisdiction over family cases in Ontario is divided between the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice.
Under federal law, the Superior Court of Justice has sole jurisdiction in all cases involving divorce and the division of property, while under provincial law, child protection and adoption cases must be heard in the Ontario Court of Justice. Both courts preside over child and spousal support cases and child custody and access cases.
In 17 court locations in Ontario, this split jurisdiction has been unified by the Family Court, which was created by the Courts of Justice Act as a branch of the Superior Court. At any of the 17 Family Court sites (see below), all family cases are heard, including divorce, division of property, support, custody and access, child protection, and adoption.
Family Court Sites:
To locate a court in your area, please see the List of Ontario Court Addresses on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website.
All family law cases in the Superior Court of Justice are governed by the Family Law Rules, and use the procedures, forms, and steps set out in these Rules.
The Superior Court of Justice has developed a new guide to process that provides information to litigants about each step in a family case. Please also refer to the Family Law Rules and the Superior Court of Justice’s Practice Directions. See also the family law resource page for additional information.
In 2008, the Superior Court of Justice developed the Family Law Strategic Plan as a framework to improve family court proceedings. The Strategic Plan sets out guiding principles and achievable goals to ensure meaningful access to justice for family law litigants at all Superior Court sites in Ontario, in accordance with the two key guiding principles of accessibility and effectiveness.
In 2012, the Court launched the Child Prioritization Initiative, which builds on the Superior Court’s Family Law Strategic Plan by outlining specific goals and targeted approaches to ensure children in conflict and children-at-risk are given “top priority” in family court proceedings.