This guide is intended to provide some helpful information about family law appeals in the Court of Appeal for Ontario. This guide does not constitute legal advice and it may not include information that applies to your particular case. Please note that court staff cannot provide legal advice or complete your court documents for you.
For more information, please see:
The chart below sets out some *general* rules that apply in *most* cases. Exceptions apply. Please see the applicable legislation and rules of court for a *complete* guide.
Ontario Court of Justice
Any, unless otherwise specified in the legislation (for example, see row below regarding jurisdiction/extra-provincial matters)
Superior Court of Justice
See legislation under which original order was made
Court of Appeal
(leave is required, unless the original order was made under Part V or VIII of CYFSA (child protection, adoption, and openness matters))
CJA: ss. 6(1.1) and 6(1.0.1)
Sections 22, 41, 42, or 43 or the Schedule to s. 46 of the CLRA (jurisdiction/extra-provincial matters)
CLRA: s. 73(2)
(leave is required)
CJA: s. 19(1)(b)
CJA: s. 6(1)(a)
Final (monetary only, <$50K)
CJA: s. 19(1.2)
Final (other than monetary <$50K)
Provincial legislation only
CJA: s. 19(1)(a.1)
Federal legislation (regardless of whether there are also orders made under provincial legislation)
CJA: ss. 6(1)(b) and 6(2)
Appeals from the Ontario Court of Justice should be made to the Superior Court of Justice, unless it is provided in legislation that it should go to another Court. Note that there are special rules for appeals from the Ontario Court of Justice to the Superior Court of Justice. Also, you should look at the legislation under which the order was made to see if there are special rules that apply to your type of appeal.
Some statutes also have additional restrictions on appeals. For example, under the Divorce Act, there are two specific restrictions on the appeal process:
In some cases, you need “leave to appeal”. This means that you need the court’s permission to appeal. To ask for permission, you need to make a motion to the court explaining why they should hear your appeal.
If your appeal is to the Court of Appeal or the Divisional Court, see Rules 61, 62 and 63 of the Rules of Civil Procedure and Rule 38 of the Family Law Rules.
Where leave to appeal is needed, you must:
Motions for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal are in writing. A motion record, factum and transcripts (if any), are needed for the motion.
If the court gives you leave to appeal, a notice of appeal must then be served and filed within seven days.
In certain cases, the motion for leave to appeal will be heard together with the appeal. This means that you will present your motion for leave to appeal at the same time that you present your appeal and the court will consider both questions at the same time. For example, in an appeal of a temporary order made under the CYFSA, and brought to the Divisional Court as a temporary order of a Superior Court Justice the motion for leave to appeal is combined with the notice of appeal and both are heard together.
Please see: “How to Proceed with a Civil Appeal”.
The general rule is:
Timelines are shorter for child protection matters:
Family law appeals are heard more quickly, usually within 3-4 months from the date on which all the necessary materials have been filed with the court.
Appeals of extended society care orders, with no access, are specially managed by the court. You will likely be contacted to schedule a conference over the telephone with a judge if you have not filed all the necessary materials for your appeal with the court within 14 days.
The general rule is that you must rely on the same facts on appeal that you did at trial.
But, if “fresh” evidence – evidence that existed at the time of trial but you didn’t know about – or “new” evidence – evidence based on new developments since the trial – concerns the child’s best interests, the court may want to hear about it. You may try to introduce fresh or new evidence by making a motion.
The Court of Appeal office may also be contacted through the following:
Court of Appeal for Ontario
130 Queen Street West
Telephone number: (416) 327-5020
Toll Free at 1-855-718-1756
Facsimile number: (416) 327-5032