When you have filled out and printed off all of your required documents, you will bring the originals and photocopies to the filing office at the court where you are starting your application. You will provide all of your documents and copies to the clerk working at the filing office, and pay your filing fee or file your waiver of fees with proof of income. The court accepts cash, debit, or major credit card for fee payments.
It is your responsibility to make copies of your documents. Staff are not responsible for doing this for you. There is a fee for using the photocopiers at the court.
If you have documents that must be sworn or affirmed – like affidavits, or Statements of Income, Expenses or Property – you can usually do this at the courthouse. Just make sure you have photo ID with you.
Once your application and all supporting documents are filed, your application will be reviewed by a court officer. You will be notified by the court of any next steps in the application process. The next steps in your application process may depend on the type of application filed. You may receive notice that you are required to attend an intake session, or a Parenting Information Program session.
The other party (or parties) on your file will need to be notified of the application. The court may send notification to the other party or their lawyer (if they have one), or the court may ask you to arrange for the other party to be personally served. This again depends on the type of application filed.
For example, if you filed your application on an urgent or emergency basis and it is going directly to court, personal service is likely required. For more information about personal service, click here. For many non-urgent applications, the other party will be notified by receiving a package from the court in the mail. This is why you must provide a complete mailing address for the other party.
Many applications involving children will go through the court-assisted dispute resolution process. This process is also called ‘conciliation.’ For more information about conciliation, click here.
Some applications will proceed directly to court. This may include applications for spousal support or property division, where the application has been filed on an urgent or emergency basis, or where conciliation is not appropriate for the file. For more information about going to court, click here.
It is your responsibility to update the court if your contact information changes. This includes your phone number(s) and designated address (the address at which you ask to have court documents sent). Please contact the court right away whenever there is a change in your information. You should also notify the court if you had a lawyer but become self-represented, if you change lawyers, or if you get a lawyer after starting the court process on your own. You are allowed to speak with or hire a lawyer to represent you at any time through this process, even if you started the process on your own, without representation.
If you become aware of the other party’s information changing, you should update the court about that too.
Remember – when you file your application, the other party or parties will receive copies of everything you file, and you will receive copies of everything that they file. The court doesn’t screen your documents for information that you might want to keep confidential. If you don’t want the other party to have some of your contact information – because you have safety concerns, or for any other reason – speak to a court staff member for help.
Please notify court staff and your lawyer, if you have one, if any of these things apply to you:
there are criminal law orders in place between you and the other party;
there has been an Emergency Protection Order (EPO), no-contact order or peace bond in place between you and the other party;
there has been violence or threats of violence between you and the other party.
It is important for staff and lawyers to know these things, as this may affect how your case is handled and to ensure everyone’s safety. Family court staff do not have access to criminal court records, and must be notified by you if there are other orders in place.
For information about domestic violence, click here.
It is always recommended you obtain legal advice. Click here for information about legal support and advice options in Nova Scotia, including no- and low-cost services.
Please tell us about your experience using this Guide and the NS Family Law website by completing our short survey.