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Can a judge make a final order at a Case Conference ?

Rule 17 of the Family Law Rules expressly empowers a judge to make an order at a Case Conference. In addition to this provision, Rule 2 directs judges to actively manage cases and to dispose of cases that do not require a trial. However, Case Conferences were created as an alternative to contested hearings and to afford the spouses an opportunity to consider self-made settlements guided by judges, as opposed to judge-imposed conclusions.

In A.B. v. N.L.A., CanLii (2013) ONSC 2990, Justice Czutrin stated that “conferences are intended to assist in getting parties to a settlement or to trial readiness and to attempt to avoid motions. Conferences are not intended to be used as venues in which to determine opposed substantive matters on a final basis. They are not meant, and could not have been intended, to prevent a person from having an opportunity to be fairly heard according to the Rules. At conferences, it may often be appropriate to make procedural orders or temporary orders to preserve positions, provide for temporary support (based on sworn financial statements and undisputed facts), ensure necessary disclosure and move the case along. However, seldom (if ever) should a final order be made at a conference when it is opposed and not on consent.”

In that case, the court was faced with an appeal by a father from an order made by a judge at a Case Conference...

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