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Before Going to Court

General information

To start a family law case, you need to gather the information needed by the court and then fill out various family law forms. Make sure you use the most up-to-date forms.

The Ministry of the Attorney General provides information about different family law topics, including parenting time and decision-making responsibilities for your children. It also includes information about child and spousal support.

Family Law Rules Forms

Family law services

Family mediation

The Ministry of the Attorney General provides mediation services. You may wish to contact the mediation services for information about resources that are available in your location.

You should note that s.33.1(3) of the Children's Law Reform Act requires that you should try to resolve your matters through mediation, negotiation or collaborative law.

More info about mediation
Family law guides

The Ministry of the Attorney General has developed guides to help you with starting your family case and to respond or answer a family law case.

Starting your family case

Guide to procedures in family court


Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) also provides useful information on steps in a family law case. You may also find help filling out the family forms on the Community Legal Education Ontario website.

Steps in a Family Law Case

CLEO website


Another resource to assist you are the Family Law Information Centres (FLIC) that are available in the courthouses. The FLIC will be able to give you information about family law issues and family court processes. This is a free service.

FLIC website

Finding legal help and representation

Family law is very complex.
If you can, it is extremely important that you hire a lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected.
If you cannot hire a lawyer for your entire case, you should consider consulting a lawyer for specific issues.

Law Society of Ontario

You can get referrals to a lawyer from the Law Society Referral Service at the Law Society of Ontario.

The Referral Service will give you the name of a lawyer within or near your community. The lawyer will give you a free consultation of up to 30 minutes.

Law Society of Ontario’s Referral Service

1-800-268-8326 (toll free), 416-947-3330

Law Society Referral Service

Office of the Children’s Lawyer

If your case involves parenting time, decision-making responsibility or contact for children under the age of 18, and a judge needs independent information about a child’s needs, wishes and interests, the judge may request the involvement of the Office of the Children’s Lawyer.

The Children’s Lawyer will decide if they can help.

If they agree to help, they may assign a lawyer to represent your child, a clinician to write a report for the court, or they may involve both a lawyer and a clinician to represent your child.

If a judge makes an order requesting help from the Children’s Lawyer, you and the other party will be required to complete a form, called the Office of the Children’s Lawyer Intake Form: Parenting and Contact Orders.

Office of the Children’s Lawyer

1-800-268-8326 (toll free), 416-947-3330

Office of the Children's Lawyer forms

Office of the Children’s Lawyer website

Legal Aid Ontario

You may qualify for legal assistance from Legal Aid Ontario. You should know, however, that you must qualify financially to receive a certificate to hire a lawyer.

Legal Aid Ontario also provides advice counsel at the family courthouses that may be able to give you some advice before you go to court.

Legal Aid Ontario also provides duty counsel who may assist you on the days that you are scheduled to appear in court for case conferences or motions.

Both advice and duty counsel may give you 20 minutes of free advice regardless of whether you are eligible for legal aid. However, they will not represent you in court at a trial, settlement conference or trial management conference.

Legal Aid Ontario

1-800-268-8326 (toll free), 416-947-3330

More information

Pro Bono Students Canada Family Justice Centre

Pro Bono Students Canada Family Justice Centre is another resource for unrepresented litigants who may not qualify for Legal Aid Ontario assistance.

The Family Justice Centre hosts virtual legal clinics for Ontarians dealing with family law issues who are unable to afford a lawyer, but do not meet the threshold to qualify for legal aid services. At the virtual clinics, family law lawyers supervise law students in the delivery of free unbundled legal services to self-represented litigants in Ontario.

The Centre also develops public legal education resources to support self-represented litigants in navigating the family law process.

The Family Justice Centre

PBSC website


More online resources

Ontario Court of Justice