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COVID-19: Pandemic Planning Scheduling of Family Matters in the Ontario Court of Justice

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The directives on this page have been superseded or replaced by subsequent directives published on the Ontario Court of Justice public website. They are included here for reference only.

March 15, 2020 (Revised March 20, 2020)

Public health officials have recommended that measures be taken to reduce the amount of time individuals spend in large crowds or in crowded spaces to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in a community.  The Ontario Court of Justice is committed to ensuring that those with urgent matters continue to have meaningful access to the court.  With that in mind, the Ontario Court of Justice has established procedures to reduce the number of people who attend court for criminal, family and Provincial Offences Act matters.

If you have a family court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice between Monday March 16 and Friday May 29, 2020 do not attend court.  You only need to attend if the matter is an urgent family matter.

The Court is reducing the number of courtrooms that will operate. Judicial officials will remain available to preside over urgent family proceedings (as described below).

Please do not come into a courthouse in person if you have been advised by public health officials, your doctor or the Ontario Ministry of Health (MOH) website (https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus) to self-isolate.

This directive applies to all family matters in the Ontario Court of Justice between Monday March 16, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020.

The Court may revise or extend this procedure.  Please continue to check the Ontario Court of Justice website (https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/) for updates.

If you have family court appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice between Monday March 16 and Friday Mary 29 in respect of a non-urgent family matter, do not attend court.

Family courts remain open for urgent matters only. Urgent family matters will proceed on a prioritized basis.  These matters include:

  • Child, Youth and Family Services Act: place of safety hearings (s. 90); temporary care and custody hearings (s. 94), restraining orders (s. 137), status review hearings (s. 113), and secure treatment orders (s. 161);
  • Domestic matters: urgent custody/access motions; motions for restraining orders; Hague applications and non-Hague abduction cases; and
  • Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act: refraining motions (s. 35).

The Family Law Rules permit conferences and/or motions to be heard by telephone and/or video conferencing. Where necessary and/or appropriate, these matters can be heard using one of these methods.

All non-urgent matters, including trials, will be adjourned for 8-12 weeks. Parties with a non-urgent family matter between Monday March 16, 2020 and Friday May 29, 2020 should not attend court.  Instead, they should request an adjournment, preferably by a 17F confirmation form by emailing or faxing the trial coordinator.  Contact information for all courts in Ontario is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General website: https://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/courts/Court_Addresses/

All onsite family mediation and information services are being suspended until further notice.  Parties are encouraged to contact service providers to discuss services being offered remotely, including online or by phone.

Please note that the Ministry of the Attorney General has limited the hours for counter services in its family courthouses.   Counter services will be offered between 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.