Find a Courthouse
Two factors need to be considered when deciding where to start your family case.
- The geographical location or municipality in which the case must be started, and
- The correct level of court – Superior Court of Justice of Ontario or Superior Court of Justice (Family Court) or Ontario Court of Justice.
Choosing the right municipality
The general rule is that you must start your case in the “municipality” where you or the other person or parent lives – unless you are asking the court to make an order for custody of or access to a child. A “municipality” can be a city, county or district.
If your case deals with (or includes claims for) custody of or access to a child, then you must start your case in the municipality where the child ordinarily resides.
Choosing the right court
Once you know where to bring your family case, you need to determine which family court is permitted to deal with the issues you want the court to decide.
There are three different courts that deal with family law cases in Ontario. They are
- Superior Court of Justice
- Superior Court of Justice (Family Court) and
- Ontario Court of Justice
The Superior Court of Justice (Family Court) and the Superior Court of Justice are the only courts in Ontario that can hear all types of family law cases – cases which not only involve custody or access, but also property division, matters dealing with the matrimonial home and divorce.
Not every municipality has a Superior Court of Justice (Family Court). So, if you need to bring your case in a place where there is no Family Court Branch, then you would start your case in either the Superior Court of Justice or the Ontario Court of Justice depending on the issues in your case.
Only certain types of family law decisions can be made in each court – do not commence your case in the Ontario Court of Justice if you are making claims relating to property or if you are requesting a divorce.
Decide what issues will be included in your court application. Once you know what issues you need to have dealt with, you will be able to determine in which court to start your case. If you are uncertain, speak to a lawyer. A lawyer can help ensure that you are not in the wrong court.
Finding the right courthouse
Refer to the map below to find the family courthouse closest to you and/or your child(ren). It is suggested that you phone the courthouse before attending to be sure it is the correct courthouse in which to bring your case.