Help for people with family law issues who have to represent themselves in Supreme Court
If you’re going to Supreme Court for a family law matter without a lawyer, step-by-step help is now available to get you through the court process. Funded by the Law Foundation and based on the recommendations set out in Madam Justice Victoria Gray’s report Filling in the Blanks, the Legal Services Society has produced a new set of useful online resources for Supreme Court trials and hearings.
The new resources include a new self-help guide on how to schedule and prepare for a Supreme Court trial, plus two new step-by-step guides to walk users through completing the forms required for Supreme Court trials and Chambers hearings. The latter guides follow the same model as last year’s fill-in-the-blanks separation agreement guide. And in partnership with People’s Law School, we’ve created five new videos about preparing for and conducting a Supreme Court trial.
Here are descriptions and links to the new resources as well as some important older materials.
What happens at a Supreme Court trial (home page for all trial materials)
Stage 1: Before you schedule a trial
Fact sheet (multi-page): Discovery — Sharing information with the other party: Includes sections on why you have to share information, how you can shorten your trial by agreeing on some facts beforehand, what’s involved in discovery of documents and examination for discovery, and other ways to get information, like interrogatories or pre-trial examination of witnesses.
Stage 2: Prepare for your trial
NEW! Self-help guide: How to schedule and prepare for your Supreme Court trial: Explains the steps required to prepare for and schedule a Supreme Court trial, with a timeline of significant deadlines and links to videos that set out the court process.
- Making an offer to settle: Explains how to make a formal offer to settle to try to resolve your issues before a trial.
- Present your evidence in Supreme Court (multi-page): Describes the types of evidence you can prepare and present in a Supreme Court trial when you represent yourself (you don't have a lawyer). It includes sections on preparing your evidence, witnesses, documents, and expert opinions.
NEW! Videos (produced in partnership with People’s Law School):
- Scheduling and preparing for a Supreme Court trial: A 4½-minute video that presents an overview of the steps leading up to a Supreme Court family law trial, including scheduling a trial, attending a Trial Management Conference, and filing and serving the necessary documents.
- Giving testimony in Supreme Court: A 5½-minute video that describes how to prepare your spoken testimony, present it in Supreme Court, and respond to questions from the judge and the other party.
- Questioning witnesses in a Supreme Court trial: A 5½-minute video that gives tips for using witnesses as evidence in a Supreme Court family law trial, and includes choosing your witnesses, planning your questions, and the procedure at trial. Also discusses the cross-examination process.
- Using documents in a Supreme Court trial: A 7½-minute video that explains how to use documents as evidence in a Supreme Court family law trial and how to introduce exhibits both with and without a witness.
Stage 3: At your trial and after
NEW! Self-help guide: How to draft a Supreme Court order: Walks you through how to draft a Supreme Court order if you’re a party in a family law case.
NEW! Sample forms: Sample filled out versions of some of the most common court orders:
- Coping with the court process (Adapted from The National Self-Represented Litigants Project’s Coping with the Courtroom): Provides tips for handling the stress of representing yourself in court
- Costs and expenses: Defines costs and expenses in the context of a family law court case, sets out the difference between them and what they consist of, and explains how to collect them. Includes links to the necessary blank forms for Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
- Preparing to attend Supreme Court (Adapted from Coping with the Courtroom): Provides tips for getting ready to go to court when you're representing yourself (don't have a lawyer).
- NEW! Sample questions to ask when cross-examining witnesses at a Supreme Court trial: Provides a list of sample questions and other tips on cross-examining witnesses
- NEW! Sample questions to ask witnesses at a Supreme Court trial: Provides a list of sample questions and other tips about questioning witnesses and introducing documents through a witness.
- Tips for conducting your Supreme Court trial (Adapted from Coping with the Courtroom): Provides information for representing yourself at trial, such as the rules of courtroom behaviour.
- Tips for drafting a Supreme Court order: Provides information about how to write an order: what information to include and in what order, who drafts it, what form to use, when to draft it, what happens after it's drafted or if the other party won't sign, and more.
- What happens at a Supreme Court trial? (Adapted from Coping with the Courtroom): Describes what happens at a Supreme Court trial when you're representing yourself.
NEW! Video: An Introduction to Supreme Court: A 4½-minute video that provides information for the day you go to court, including what to bring and how to navigate the courthouse. Also shows what the inside of a Supreme Court family courtroom looks like, and describes the roles of those present.
Other Supreme Court resources
NEW! Self-help guide: How to draft an affidavit: Walks you through how to draft a Supreme Court affidavit if you’re a party in a family law case.
- Tips for drafting an affidavit: Provides information about how to write an affidavit: what information to include and in what order, what it should look like, how to use and attach exhibits, and how to swear or affirm the affidavit once it's drafted.
- Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or present in court: A checklist of the information/facts needed to support an application for child or spousal support/maintenance, guardianship/custody, or contact/parenting time/access. Also contains a link to a downloadable PDF version of the checklist.
We’d like your feedback. Please let us know what you think of our new materials.