“Litigation” means going to Court and asking a Judge to decide your case. In a Court case, your divorce lawyer fights for your rights and asks the Court to make an Order giving you what you need.
To begin an Ontario Court case, your lawyer prepares a document called an “Application”, describing the specific legal “relief” you are claiming – in other words, everything you are asking the Judge to order. The Application also sets out all the facts upon which you are relying in support of your claim.
The types of orders people ask for in their Applications generally pertain to custody, access, child support, spousal support, property division, and possession of the matrimonial home, among other things.
After filing the Application, people typically appear in Court several times. During each of these Court appearances, the Judge is presented with each party’s documents and arguments.
Depending on what kind of Court appearance you are scheduled for, the Judge will either try to help the parties resolve the case informally, make procedural Orders (for example, forcing someone to produce financial documentation), or make temporary and Final Orders or Judgments concerning the main issues in dispute.
The main stages of Litigation in Toronto (as in the rest of Ontario) are case conferences, motions, settlement conferences, trial management conferences, and trial. Briefs, affidavits, and supporting evidence are filed at each stage of the proceeding.
Needless to say, Litigation is complicated, expensive, adversarial, and emotionally draining. This brief description is very basic and only scratches the surface. Sometimes it’s the best option, but sometimes it’s not. It depends on the circumstances.
For more information on the Ontario Court process and to learn more about the legal issues you’ll need to resolve, visit the comprehensive website of the Ministry of the Attorney General at: http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/justice-ont/family_law.asp