So you just received an email with a Notice to Attend Family Docket, with a court date and a link, and you have some questions about what is going to happen. Maybe this is the first time you’ve ever been to court, and you don’t have a lawyer. Maybe you want information about what could happen because you filed the Notice to Attend Family Docket. Here are some answers to some common questions people have about the process:

I was sent an email, but I wasn’t served in person and I’m worried about the short amount of time until the court date. Was the Notice properly filed?

A Notice to Attend Family Docket can be sent by email to the people involved in the court action. No prior documents have to be filed or served in person on any party prior to filing a Notice to Attend Family Docket. The Notice to Attend Family Docket must be emailed to all parties (and specifically the person who did not apply but is named as the Respondent) at least five days before the scheduled court date. The five days does not include the day it was emailed out, but it includes holidays and weekends.

How do I attend the court appearance?

Every filed Notice to Attend Family Docket has a WebEx link, a phone number and a date on it. You cannot attend Family Docket Court in person. You can phone in or use the link to participate by videoconferencing. The Court asks that people log in or phone in 15 minutes ahead of time so that the court clerk can check people in, and so that technical problems can get fixed before court starts. If you are using the WebEx link, your device will have to have the WebEx application downloaded onto it. You may want to log in and install the application ahead of time.

What is going to happen at the court appearance?

Family Docket Court was created because, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court of Queen’s Bench had to cancel 3 months’ worth of scheduled court appearances (except for emergencies). There had to be a process set up to manage the backlog, as well as the constant stream of new files. The Court decided to take a more active role in scheduling and managing family litigation and access to hearings.

We compare Family Court to triage at the Emergency Room. When you go to the Emergency Room, you will likely speak to a nurse or a doctor who will evaluate your medical emergency, and determine how urgent it is, what type of service is needed, and whether you will wait in a waiting room. That nurse or doctor is very unlikely to treat your injuries immediately at the front desk. Similarly, at Family Docket Court, a Justice (which is the title of a judge at the Court of Queen’s Bench) reads the Notice to Attend Family Docket, and based on that document and on what the parties tell the Court, the Justice makes a decision about the next steps. If the parties agree to resolve the issues, and only if they agree, then the Justice can grant a Consent Order on those issues. Otherwise, the Justice is usually only making an order about whether the parties should try a mediation process (referred to as an Alternate Dispute Resolution process, or “ADR”), or granting an adjournment to allow one or both parties to get a lawyer, or to schedule a hearing for the application(s).

Is there anything I can do to get ready for the court appearance?

If you haven’t done so already, you can look at the Court’s website, and the description of family Docket Court. It includes the link to Family Docket if you are worried that you did not receive it, and short descriptions about a few of the next steps that the Court could order.

If you have children with the other party, you can take the Parenting After Separation Course, which is free, and which must be completed within one year of either party filing court pleadings. The course is available online, and provides excellent information to help parents understand and minimize the impact of separation and conflict on children.

You may also want to take the Notice to Attend Family Docket, and any other court documents you receive, to a lawyer to get legal advice. Our lawyers would be happy to take your call and schedule a consultation to advise you of your options feel free to contact us .

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