Service of Family Law Court Documents can be a very serious issue which can significantly impact an applicant’s right to have a family law matter heard in the Ontario family law courts or federal family law courts. Service of Court documents must be in accordance with the Family Law Rules, otherwise, you will be barred from moving your matter forward in the various stages of the court proceedings. All court documents that you prepare or your lawyer prepares for Court or which you wish to introduce in support of your case with Court need to be served on all parties to a case. Service means that you have provided notice of the document that will be filed with Court or which you wish to produce for Court and no document may be used in Court unless it is correctly served in accordance with the Family Law Rules. Once a document is served, you must file an additional document with the Court called an “Affidavit of Service”. This Affidavit is a sworn document which swears it to be true that the document was served on another party to the case and how it was served.  A note that if you are an “Applicant” in a proceeding or the person who starts a proceeding, you cannot personally hand a document to another party. You need a third party individual to serve it in accordance with the Family Law Rules.

What is “Effective” Service

There are two types of “effective” service, meaning service that has been correctly done in accordance with the Family Law Rules – one being Regular Service, and the other being Special Service. The majority of your materials may be served via Regular Service. This entails serving the opposing party either via email, regular mail, courier, or fax. Special Service may be carried out in several prescribed ways. A third party may leave a copy with the person who is being served, or their lawyer of record – the defining factor of special service is that it needs to be done hand to hand and in person by a third party other than the Applicant unless you are not represented by a lawyer and you are serving the opposing party’s counsel.  The final way would be to leave a copy in an envelope addressed specially to the opposing party, with an adult individual who lives at the same residence as the opposing party, and then proceed to mail a second copy to the opposing party the same day or following day.

There are specific documents that must be served on the opposing party via special service. These materials include: A Form 8: Application, or a Motion to Change with a Form 14A Affidavit. A party to the matter cannot serve these documents personally, and rather must be served by a friend or family member over the age of 18, or a process server.


There are also strict timelines by which your materials must be served on the opposing party. For example, Form 8: Applications, or Motions to Change are to be served on the opposing party immediately. For individuals who have been served with Applications or Motions to Change, they have 30 days from when they were served to serve and file their responding materials, in this case, your Form 10: Answer and Response to Motion to Change respectively. A Form 10A: Reply must be served and filed within 10 business days of being served with a Response to Motion to Change. For Case Conference Briefs, or other Conference Briefs such as Settlement or Trial Scheduling Briefs, the moving party must file 6 business days before the conference date, and the other party must serve and file their materials 4 business days prior to the conference date.

Our firm understands that family law matters before the Court can be a daunting experience. We are working with both existing and potential new clients to ensure that their family law matters handled with the utmost of care. Our firm is here to assist you to meet all of your family law needs, and can assist you in any negotiations you may need to resolve. Please call one of our lawyers at our Family Law Firms in Toronto for a consultation related to your matters.

Written by: Christopher Rio Mortel , Associate Lawyer at Separy Law PC.