Notice to the Profession and Family Law Litigants – Protocol for Family and Child Protection Matters in the Superior Court of Justice, Central East Region (Effective January 4, 2021)

The Superior Court of Justice is operating pursuant to the Consolidated Notice to the Profession from Chief Justice Morawetz effective May 19, 2020 and amended October 6, 2020. That Notice can be found at:

Please review the Notice carefully in conjunction with this document.

This Notice replaces the Notices to the Profession for Central East Region issued on June 26, 2020.


[1] All child protection and family matters shall presumptively be set for a videoconference hearing to be held by Zoom. If one party cannot utilize Zoom videoconference for any reason, the matter shall proceed by Zoom teleconference.

[2] Certain matters may be scheduled for in-person hearings at the courthouse by the judge who is setting the next date. The priority for in-person hearings is determined by the court and parties cannot obtain an in-person hearing simply by consenting to same.

[3] If a lawyer or party is not comfortable with an in-person attendance due to COVID-19 concerns, the hearing will proceed virtually.

1. Child Protection Matters

[4] Dates in child protection matters shall continue to be set by the Case Management judge.

[5] It is expected that there will be some limited availability for virtual trials and long motions including summary judgment motions starting in early 2021. Further details with respect to the triaging of cases and scheduling of Trial Scheduling Conferences will be provided by each centre when available.

2. Family Matters including FRO

(a) Family Conferences

[6] The court is currently hearing three conferences on each conference day at 9:30, 11:30 and 2:00 p.m.

[7] Due to the limited availability of court dates, the court will not be automatically setting the next event in each case.

[8] Parties can request and schedule dates with the Trial Coordinator. A 14B motion is not required unless an urgent date is requested that cannot otherwise be accommodated by the Trial Coordinator.

[9] No Trial Scheduling Conferences, or Trial Management Conferences will be set at this time except in those centres in which family trials are available and the date will be set by the Case Management judge. If parties had scheduled a Trial Scheduling Conference or a Trial Management Conference prior to the suspension of court operations, they can request a Settlement Conference for the purpose of attempting final settlement only.

[10] There may be some limited availability for virtual (Zoom) family trials and long motions in the future depending on the volume of child protection matters which shall be given priority. Further details with respect to the triaging of cases and scheduling of Trial Scheduling Conferences for these virtual trials will be provided by each centre when available.

(b) Family Motions

[11] There is no requirement for leave on the basis of urgency for motions.

[12] The only motions permitted at this time are short/one-hour motions. The court is scheduling three motions for each motions day at 9:30, 11:30 and 2:00. There will be no long motions set until further notice.

[13] A cross-motion is considered a separate event and must be scheduled through the Trial Coordinator in a separate time slot from the original motion. If a party wishes to bring a cross-motion at the same time as the original motion as the issues are interrelated or for any other reason, that party must first obtain leave by way of 14B motion.

[14] If no case conference has been held, the party seeking to bring a motion must first obtain leave based on r. 14(4.2) of the Family Law Rules for the motion by 14B even if the motion materials have already been filed for a prior date. No motion can be scheduled through the trial coordinator unless a conference has been held or leave obtained in advance. This provision does not apply to motions without notice brought pursuant to r. 14(12) of the Family Law Rules.

[15] All motions are to be heard in writing presumptively unless a judge determines otherwise.

[16] Family motions do not qualify for in-person court attendances at this time. Rather, counsel and parties are to be available to participate in a Zoom hearing in their time slot if the judge deems necessary. A Zoom link will be provided, but parties and counsel will not be given entry into the virtual meeting unless and until the judge deems it necessary. Parties or counsel are not entitled to make oral submissions unless the judge permits.

3. 1st APPEARANCES (Rule 39 Appearances)

[17] All First Appearance dates will be conducted by teleconference.

[18] Mediation and duty counsel are available to assist at First Appearance dates; see below for further information.

4. Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) Dates

[19] The DRO program will be resuming in Central East Region starting in 2021.

[20] Parties who have commenced a Motion to Change can request a date for a Case Conference with a DRO either at the First Appearance Date or if they have already had a First Appearance date and were not assigned a date, through the Trial Coordinator.


[21] Where a hearing is set to be heard by videoconference or teleconference, the Trial Coordinator will forward the Zoom link to all parties.

[22] Parties and counsel are to be ready in the Zoom waiting room 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time. In certain centers court lists are tiered; in those centres parties and counsel are asked to attend at 9:30 a.m. so that the list can be vetted by the presiding judge.

[23] Hearings that are conducted by video and teleconference are formal court events that replace an in-person attendance. Parties and counsel should conduct themselves as though they were in court. Counsel are expected to educate their clients with respect to appropriate decorum if they are not in the same location for the Zoom call. Counsel and parties are not expected to rise when the judge enters the conference or to stand during submissions. However, counsel and to the extent possible, parties shall be dressed in business casual dress. No parties or counsel shall be drinking (other than a glass of water), eating or smoking. It is expected that to the extent possible that parties and counsel will be in a separate room as opposed to in their car or out in public. All parties and counsel shall mute their microphones until the judge requests to hear from that person.

[24] For all child protection matters and conferences, parties shall make best efforts to ensure that they are participating in a private space without anyone else present unless the judge grants leave.


1. How to File Documents

[25] The filing office remains open, but counsel and parties are requested to e-file documents unless in-person filing is absolutely necessary to minimize in-person contact with court staff.

[26] There is no restriction on the type of documents that can be filed at this time.

[27] All documents filed before January 11, 2021 must be clearly labelled with the court file number (with the correct extension), the parties’ names and the name of the document as follows:

Example: FC-20-00000503-0001 – DOE vs. DOE – Affidavit of Jane Doe sworn June 23 2020

[28] All documents submitted to the Court electronically on or after January 11, 2021 must be named in accordance with the standard document naming protocol set out in Part C of Chief Justice Morawetz’s Consolidated Notice to the Profession, Litigants, Accused Persons, Public and the Media.

[29] Documents that are not properly named may be rejected by the filing office and may not be forwarded to the presiding judge until properly named.

[30] If the document is be filed by e-mail, the subject line of the e-mail must contain the same information as the document(s) enclosed to assist court staff in locating the documents easily.

[31] If parties wish to issue documents or the filing deadline for documents is more than five days away, parties and counsel shall use the Justice Services Online Filing Portal. The portal is authorized to accept the electronic filing of most documents in a family law or child protection case, along with any necessary filing fees. New applications and motions to change can also be filed through this portal, along with requests for fee waivers. Information regarding how to register for the JSOFP and how to file documents can be found at:

[32] In addition, several family court documents relating to a simple or joint divorce may continue to be filed electronically by using the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Family Claims Online Portal, in accordance with the Family Law Rules.

[33] Documents with a filing deadline of five days or less such as without notice motions, responding regular motion materials, conference briefs or confirmation forms can be filed by e-mailing the document to the e-mail address set out below.

Centre CSD Mailbox
Barrie including Midland & Collingwood

[34] Parties shall not file documents using both the JSOFP and the CSD mailbox.

2. Restrictions on Documents

[35] Case conference briefs (17A) shall comply with the existing Practice Direction that limits pages to the four-page form set out in the Family Law Rules plus two additional pages of narrative; the two-page limit on narrative includes any attachments. Settlement Conference briefs (17C) shall not exceed eight pages in total comprised of the form, any additional narrative and attachments. The following attachments are not included in the page limit for either type of form:* Applicable Separation Agreements * Reports from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer * Child Support or Spousal Support Advisory Guideline calculations

* Offers to Settle

* Reports produced under s. 30 of the Children’s Law Reform Act

* Net Family Property statements or Comparative Net Family Property statements (without back-up documents)

* Relevant court orders including bail/release terms

[36] There shall be a strict page limit for affidavits in support of regular motions.   Affidavits shall not exceed twelve pages of narrative and the total number of pages of exhibits shall not exceed ten pages. The following documents should be attached and are not included in the page limit:* Applicable Separation Agreements * Reports from the Office of the Children’s Lawyer * Child Support or Spousal Support Advisory Guideline calculations

* Reports produced under s. 30 of the Children’s Law Reform Act

* Net Family Property statements or Comparative Net Family Property statements (without back-up documents)

* Relevant court orders including bail/release terms

[37] If a party believes that it is necessary to exceed the page limit, they must obtain leave in advance by 14B motion.

[38] Affidavits in support of any 14B motion shall not exceed three pages of narrative and three pages of exhibits.

[39] Parties shall comply with r. 4.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure with respect to font and margin size.

[40] If documents are being filed in Adobe format, ensure that they are not locked so that the judge can highlight and annotate the document if necessary.

[41] Previously filed motion materials must be scanned and re-filed by e-mail. If the previously filed materials exceed the page limits set out above, the materials must be re-drafted to bring them into compliance or leave for longer materials must be obtained by 14B motion.

[42] Books of Authorities shall not be filed, rather the lawyer or party shall provide the judge with a list of the case names upon he or she is relying with hyperlinks.

[43] Confirmations for conferences and motions shall include details of what documents were filed in support of the event including the date of the document, when the documents were filed and where they were filed (ie. in person at the court, through the JSOFP or by e-mail to the CSD e-mail box).


[44] The Office of the Children’s Lawyer will continue to accept referrals including for Voice of the Child reports. Referrals will be assessed for urgency, complexity and the usual intake criteria.

[45] For new matters, the OCL must be served electronically at, including service on any other person where a document must be left with the Children’s Lawyer (i.e., where service on a minor is effected by leaving a copy with the Children’s Lawyer). The OCL will still accept limited service by other means such as fax or drop off, especially from self-represented parties who do not have computer access.


[46] Please refer to the Family Responsibility Office website for the latest information:


[47] On-site duty counsel and advice lawyer services are not available at this time however they may be available to assist in virtual hearings provided that parties contact them in advance.

[48] Self-represented parties can be directed to Legal Aid Ontario:

1-800-668-8258 for assistance.

[49] Legal Aid Ontario has advised that summary legal advice services will be available through their telephone lines regardless of financial eligibility, but still subject to subject matter restrictions.  Information about access to these services is available at:

[50] The Law Society of Ontario in conjunction with others is offering an emergency service to connect self-represented litigants with family lawyers, working on a pro bono basis, who will provide 30 minutes of legal advice specific to determining whether or not their family court matter is urgent and referrals to other available legal services.  Self-represented parties can call:

Toll-free: 1-800-268-7568
General: 416-947-3310

VII. MEDIATION/ Information and Resource Coordinators

[51] Off-site mediation services may continue to be available with strict protocols for sanitizing and social distancing, and strict cancellation policies in the event of symptoms. Off-site mediation is also available virtually by videoconference.

[52] Mediators will also be available to provide virtual mediation by videoconference on hearing days.   Parties wishing mediation should contact the applicable mediation centre or notify the court registrar at the commencement of a hearing.

[53] Mediation by teleconference is not available due to the requirements of screening for domestic violence that must be conducted in-person or by videoconference.

[54] On-site mediation services remain suspended until further notice.

[55] Information and Referral Coordinators (IRC’s) from each court location in the region continue to be available to assist the public remotely. Contact information is set out below:

Centre IRC Contact
Oshawa Durham Mediation Centre



Newmarket York Hills Centre for Children, Youth and Families


Barrie & Bracebridge The Mediation Centre of Simcoe County Inc.


Peterborough Kawartha Family Court Assessment Service


Lindsay Kawartha Family Court Assessment Service

705-324-1400 x413

Cobourg Kawartha Family Court Assessment Service

905-372-3751 x128

Dated December 18, 2020

Justice Michelle Fuerst
Regional Senior Judge,
Superior Court of Justice,
Central East Region