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Caution:  This page contains ONLY GENERAL LEGAL INFORMATION. 
It is NOT LEGAL ADVICE nor a replacement for talking to a lawyer
and getting legal advice about your case.    
The law can be complicated and the details of a case can be even more complicated! 
There are exceptions for every rule. 


What you do not know can harm you.  Do not rely on general legal information.


Some legal terms explained:

  • "adjourn"
    to defer or postpone a court appearance to a later time (in criminal law, the term would be "remand"), as in "The court adjourned the Case Conference to next month, for the parties to exchange disclosure."


  • "affidavit"
    a written statement of facts that is sworn or affirm to be true (usually authorized by legislation or regulations)


  • "court costs"
    an order for one party to pay the other party's expenses in the court case (including legal fees) - this is done when one party is unsuccessful in a dispute, and particularly when one party took unreasonable positions, acted inappropriately, or wasted the court's time.


  • "court fees"
    a payment, charged by a court to a party, for certain steps, documents, or services in a court case


  • "disbursement"
    an expense, incurred in providing legal services, charged by a lawyer to a client, such as "The disbursements billed to me included photocopying the court documents for the other parties."


  • "disclosure"
    the process and legal obligation to provide other parties with information and documents relevant to the case, as in "The court has ordered full disclosure from the Respondent about his business."


  • "endorsement"
    written notes of the judge setting out their decision, the findings of facts, and related information


  • "equalization payment"
    a payment from one married spouse to the other required to be made in an attempt to ensure each party ends up with an equal share of property accumulated during their marriage )based on the application of a complex set of rules and a formula)


  • "estate"
    property that a person has an interest in (especially upon death)


  • "ex parte"
    (Latin for "from/by/for the party") - without notice to or (appearance by) a party


  • "exhibit"
    a document (or object) submitted to or admitted by a court


  • "family Law Rules"
    regulations setting out procedures and forms for family court cases


  • "final order" 
    an order intended to finally deal with the claims made in a case (final orders can be changed in a new proceeding that restarts the court case)

  • "FRO"
    Family Responsibility Office (which enforces support orders and agreements)

  • "guardian"
    a person who has the authority by law or court order to make decisions regarding another person or that person's property, where that person is mentally incapable


  • "garnishment"
    a process whereby a person (i.e. a recipient), who has a court order for payment (by a payor), may require a third party to pay money to recipient, money otherwise payable to the payor (e.g. garnish wages or bank accounts)


  • "hearsay evidence"
    second-hand evidence - evidence someone else said something - literally testimony that they heard something said (complex rules determine whether or not it is admissible)


  • "imputed income"
    a judge's finding as to a person's income (usually to calculate the amount of support), based on what the judge believes the payor actually earns (if the judge believes the person has given false evidence about his/her income) or what the person could earns (if he/she makes reasonable efforts)


  • "jurisdiction"
    1. province, state, or country which has its own law (such asOntario, Canada, France, ...)
    2. 2the legal reach or authority of a court (or a province, state or country) - whether geographically (such as Ontario) or subject matter (such as the Ontario Court of Justice)


  • "a Justice"
    a judge


  • "legal information" & "legal advice"

    • "legal advice" is information, opinions, and recommendations which are specific to a client's situation

    • "legal information" is generic information that applies generally and not specific to the particular facts of a case

    • in practice, the distinction is usually clear but sometimes can be difficult

    • only a lawyer is permitted to give legal advice regarding a family law matter and they should fallow certain formalities about providing this service

    • non-lawyers can give legal information


  • "legal presumption"
    a rule of law that accepts a specified fact as true, unless it is proven to be untrue (or example, if a child is born when a couple were married, the male is presumed to be the father)


  • "Minutes of Settlement"
    a written agreement requesting a judge to make an order on the terms specified in the agreement


  • "motion"
    a procedure during a court case (usually before a trial) in which a party asks for an temporary or final order based on written material


  • "notary public"
    a person authorized to administer an oath or affirm that the facts set out in a document are true - mainly for documents to be used outside Ontario (the person need not be a lawyer and not all lawyers are notaries)


  • "oath"
    a solemn declaration, followed by a swearing to God or an honoured deity, whereby the person promises to tell the truth


  • "on the record"

    • a statement that is recorded in the transcripts of a court appearance (as opposed to off the record discussions that may happen at conferences and in other situations)

    • a lawyer who has identified themselves as the lawyer for a party in a court case, usually by indicating this in court documents or by a statement to a judge at a court appearance ... the lawyer remains on the record for the duration of the case (but not for an Appeal or Motion to Change a Final Order, etc.), unless the judge or a client formally removes the lawyer from the record


  • "party"

    • a person who brought a court case or who has the right to respond to it (usually a person affected by the orders sought)

    • a person who enters into an agreement or who is in dispute with another person


  • "paternity"
    the status of being a child's father


  • "peace bond"
    (equivalent to a "restraining order")

    • a criminal court order or agreement to "keep the peace" and obey specified conditions

    • conditions may include, for example:

      • not harassing or communicating with another person; or

      • not attending at specific locations,

  • "procedural relief"
    an order that deals with the process of the court (such as disclosure of documents or an adjournment), as opposed to "substantive relief" that deals with end relief (such as custody, support, divorce, etc.)


  • "real property"
    land land and anything affixed to land (such as a house; garage)


  • "restraining order"

    • an order that a person not harass another person (may require a person not to communicate or not to attend at certain locations) - preach of this order is a criminal offence - available for spouses or parents in common (the criminal law equivalent is a peace bond)

    • an order that a party not sell or deplete his/her property

  • "retainer"
    • the agreement to hire a lawyer, as in "I signed the retainer agreement."

    • the money paid to hire a lawyer, as it "I paid the initial retainer to my lawyer."

  • "spouses"
    (Term may be used to refer to former spouses.)
    persons who:

    • are married

    • have cohabited together for some period (the period of time required will depend on the law providing the relief or benefit sought)

  • "status quo"
    Latin for the existing state of affairs or the situation


  • "substantive relief"
    an order that deals with end relief (such as custody, support, divorce, etc.), as opposed to "procedural relief" that deals with the process of the court (such as disclosure of documents or an adjournment)


  • "summary judgement"
    a final order made on motion, without a trial, based on there being no genuine issue for trial, given overwhelming evidence in support of a position


  • "Support Deduction Order"
    an order made automatically, when a support order is made, requiring the support payor's income source (such as an employer) to take support payments off the income payment and pay it to the support recipient usually through FRO)



  • "swear"
    to indicate, under oath, that the facts are true to the best of one's knowledge and belief


  • "withdraw"
    discontinue or abandon part or all of a case


  • "temporary order"
    an order, valid during the court case only, that does not finally deal with the claims made in the case ("interlocutory order" has the same meaning) - it is not a final order

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