Being well prepared before your trial will make the trial go more smoothly. The Ontario Court of Justice has a helpful resource for people who are representing themselves in their trial called “Representing Yourself at Your Family Law Trial – A Guide”. You should read this to help you get ready for your trial. It contains useful information about courtroom behaviour as well as tips for questioning witnesses and other aspects of the trial.
The judge at your trial won’t be the same judge you had at your conferences. This is because the discussions at your conferences were private, and meant to help you and your partner reach an agreement. These discussions are not shared with the trial judge.
Judges decide family cases on their own without a jury.
Trials are usually open to the public. This means there may be other people in the courtroom when your trial is going on.
You should bring to court at least 3 copies of the trial record and any documents you plan to use in your trial. One is for you, one is for your partner, and one is for the judge.
You can take notes on what happens during your trial and what is said to help you respond.
The judge can’t give you legal advice. But, during breaks, you can ask duty counsel questions about the trial process if they are available in your court location. Duty counsel can’t represent you at trial but may be able to help you with general questions.
The trial is your opportunity to prove what you’ve said and asked for in your Form 10: Answer by using witnesses, including yourself, and other evidence. The judge makes a decision using a test called the balance of probabilities. This means that your evidence has to be more believable than your partner’s evidence.
Before your trial begins, the judge deals with any preliminary or procedural matters. Then your case follows these steps: