Family, Legal Supplier

New Ontario Family Law Rules coming into effect

The provincial government has made significant changes to the Ontario Family Law Rules that will come into force on May 2.

“The most significant changes relate to financial disclosure,” Canadian legal software supplier Michael Perlman tells AdvocateDaily.com. “These new rules will require amendments to the Financial Statements and mandate several new forms” he adds.

DivorceMate Software Inc. will be amending or adding the following forms shortly in an update to all current DivorceMate users in Ontario:

Amended Forms 13 and 13.1;

New Form 13A – Certificate of Financial Disclosure;

New Form 13C – Comparison of Net Family Property Statements;

New Trial Scheduling Endorsement Form.

Here are the highlights of the Rules changes:

In addition to filing a Financial Statement with an application, answer or motion, each party must now also serve various expressly enumerated documents in support of his/her claims, as well as a Certificate of Financial Disclosure (new form 13A).

For a detailed list of the documents required, see Rule 13, specifically subparagraphs (3.1), (3.3), (3.4) and (5.0.1), as well as Form 13A.

Where the claim is for support only, the documents and the Certificate must be served at the same time as the Financial Statement. Where the claim includes a property claim, the documents and the Certificate must be served within 30 days of service of the Financial Statement.

Note that despite the longer service time permitted for the enumerated documents in a property claim, if support is also claimed, proof of the party’s current income, as well as notices of assessment/reassessment for the prior three taxation years, must be provided at the time of filing the Financial Statement with the court.

The Certificate (but not the documents) must be filed with the court in advance of a case conference.

Net Family Property Statements are now required at least 30 days before a settlement conference. In addition, a joint Comparison of Net Family Property Statements (new Form 13C) must be filed no later than seven days before a settlement conference. (This is essentially DivorceMate’s Net Family Property Worksheet.) If the parties cannot agree on a joint Comparison, they are each required to file an individual Comparison.

A significant list of procedural orders that the court can make has been included in the rules, as well as the right to make such orders at any point in a case (see Rule 1, subparagraphs (7.1) and (7.2)). In addition, a court may require the parties to file a trial management/scheduling endorsement, in a form determined by the court.

Rule 16 gives the court expanded summary judgment powers, including the power to weigh evidence, evaluate a deponent’s credibility and draw reasonable inferences from the evidence.

If necessary, a mini oral trial may be ordered to exercise these powers.

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