The goal of a settlement conference is to help you and your partner settle the issues you still don't agree on. Every conference is a chance for you to come closer to agreeing on your issues with your partner.
You may have a settlement conference if you and your partner haven’t sorted out your issues after one or more case conferences. Or, you may have a combined conference.
In March 2021, new rules took effect to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or family dispute resolution processes. These rules say that if it’s suitable, you and your partner must think about using ADR to resolve your issues out of court. It might not be an option in situations where:
- a person is afraid of their partner because there’s a history of family violence
- there are serious mental health or drug abuse issues
From August 1, 2021, if you and your partner have tried family mediation, a judge can sometimes allow you to move directly to a combined case conference and settlement conference. Mediation can be tried before going to court or any time after a court case is started. Every family court in Ontario offers subsidized mediation services.
To prepare for a combined conference, fill out the forms required for a settlement conference. If the judge hasn’t already combined the conferences, you or your partner can ask for this by bringing a Form 14B: Motion.
Prepare for your conference
Rule 17: Conferences tells you what you need to do to prepare for your settlement conference and what happens at one.
Fill out your forms
Before your settlement conference, you have to fill out Form 17C: Settlement Conference Brief. This form is very similar to a case conference brief, except you also include:
- An Offer to Settle that says how you would like to settle some or all of the issues.
- Form 13B: Net Family Property Statement, if there are property issues. In it, you calculate your assets and debts on the date you married and on the date you separated.
- A joint Form 13C: Comparative Net Family Property Statement, or your own Form 13C, if there are property issues. This form compares the value of your and your partner's assets and debts on the date you married and the date you separated.
You have to give the court updated financial statements. See Update your financial statements below to find out what you have to do.
Make copies of your completed documents for you and your partner.
Serve and file your forms
You must serve your partner with a copy of your documents at least 6 days before the date of your settlement conference. You serve them by regular service or special service. Serve your documents below explains how to do this.
See Count time below to understand how to calculate days or time correctly. This is important because court staff may not accept your documents if you haven't followed the rules.
After you serve your partner, you must file your documents and Form 6B: Affidavit of Service with the court. This means they’re added to your court file. You must do this 4 days before the conference date.
You can file your forms and documents with the court online or in person. File your court forms and documents below explains how to do this.
Your settlement conference brief is added to your court file and not to the continuing record. It goes in your court file so the judge can read it before your conference. It's given back to you after your settlement conference is over. This is because discussions at a settlement conference are private and can't be shared with another judge.
Confirm your court date
You have to tell the court that you will be at your settlement conference. Confirm your court date below explains how to do this.
If you need an interpreter or any special arrangement because of a disability, see Ask for a special arrangement below.