Canada: The Family Rules Are Changing On July 1, 2018 And Lawyers And Litigants Should Take Note

Last Updated: June 8 2018
Article by Devry Smith Frank LLP

Come July 1, 2018, the Family Law Rules (the rules that govern the process of family law court cases in Ontario) will undergo some substantial changes. Changes have been made to the rules that govern the timelines for serving and filing court materials, the rules for costs and the rules for motions and conferences. The changes are not insignificant and family law litigants and lawyers alike will have to take note.

Timelines for Motion Materials

One of the major areas of change is in relation to the time in which parties have to serve and file materials for motions. If a party wishes to have the court grant a temporary order, they have to (in most cases), bring a motion. To do this, they have to serve and file a notice of motion outlining the orders they want to make, and the evidence supporting those orders.

Under the "old" rules, a motion and the supporting evidence had to be served no later than four days before the hearing date. A party responding to the motion had up until two days before the hearing date to provide their evidence in response to the motion. The party bringing the motion would have a right to reply, but this would also have to be submitted two days before the hearing date. This led to numerous motions being adjourned when responding materials were filed at the last moment, necessitating an adjournment to allow for reply evidence. Finally, two days before the hearing, the parties had to confirm that the motion was proceeding by filing a confirmation.

The new rules have extended the timelines and (one hopes) eliminated the need for adjournments to file reply evidence. Under the new rules, motions must be served six days before the hearing, and responses must be filed by four days before the motion. If a party wishes to file a reply, they will have to do so three days before the hearing date. Confirmations will now have to be filed three days before the motion.

Hopefully, these amendments will result in fewer motions being brought at the last possible moment and fewer motions being adjourned as a result of it. Delay works a real injustice in family law, and regularizing the process for booking motions and filing the material for them will hopefully work against this.

Timelines for Conferences

The new rules have also changed the timelines for filing conference briefs. Under the old rules, the party requesting the conference (or if no one requested it, the Applicant) had to serve and file their brief seven days before the conference. The responding party had to serve and file their brief four days before. The new rules now require that the initial brief be filed six days before the conference. Litigants will now have to keep Rule 3(2) in mind when filing briefs. Under Rule 3(2), if a rule specifies a period of less than seven days, you don't count weekends or other days when the court is closed. So six business days may turn into eight calendar days depending on the timing of the conference.


It is unlikely that the changes to the rules for service and filing of motions will lead to any substantive changes in the law – people often do not litigate about how many days there are in the week (thankfully). However, the last major changes to the Rules will likely lead to some litigation over their interpretation and application. After all, the changes are to the cost rules.

The current costs regime is enumerated in Rule 24. Its language and interpretation have been the subject of countless court decisions. The old Rule 24(11) listed the factors that judges had to consider when awarding costs. The new Rule 24(12) does the same but imports the language of 'reasonableness' and 'proportionality' into an assessment of each of the factors. While these concepts always have loomed large in the assessment of costs, it will be interesting to see if the slight linguistic changes will have an impact on how and when costs are awarded. There is a legal maxim that the legislature does not speak in vain, and changes in the language of the law should bring about changes in its application. Otherwise, the changes will have had no effect and the legislature will have 'spoken in vain.' We will just have to wait and see how these new rules are applied.

One of the last major changes is when the Court can award costs. The 'old' rules required a judge to address costs at the end of each step in a case, be it motion, conference or otherwise. In Islam v Rahman, the Court of Appeal decided that if a judge did not address costs at the end of a step, a party could not seek costs for that step later in the case. The new Rule 24(11) has done away with this and allows the court to award costs related to a step at any point in the case.

The Final Word

It is only in half-jest that I say that one would need a law degree to understand the Family Law Rules. While they are meant to be understood by average people, many people find them confusing and tough to navigate. The new amendments to the Rules will hopefully prevent motions being brought at the last moment to 'ambush' other parties, and motions from being adjourned to allow for reply evidence. However, the new rules also make clear that motions will not proceed if the rules are not followed exactly. It is important to ensure that all the rules are followed, or cases will continue to be delayed. That is why it is always recommended that you have an experienced family law lawyer assist with your case.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions