The Court will send you a letter to notify you of your next court date once you have filed your Request for Setting Down Action for Trial.
If your divorce is uncontested, your next court date will be the uncontested divorce hearing date. For uncontested divorces, the divorce hearings are generally done in chambers without the attendance of the parties or counsels. This means that no members of the public are allowed to watch the hearing. For some cases however, the divorce hearings may be adjourned to be heard in the same manner as the uncontested hearings for annulment of marriage set out in the paragraph below.
For uncontested hearings for annulment of marriage, the parties and their counsels will have to attend the hearings in a Court room.
If your divorce is contested, your next court date after the case has been Set Down for Trial will be a Case Conference date.
A Case Conference is conducted by an Assistant Registrar of the FJC in chambers - meaning that the hearing is closed to the public, and only those directly involved in the matter can attend. You do not have to attend a Case Conference yourself if you have a lawyer. Similarly, if the Defendant has a lawyer, his or her lawyer will attend the Case Conference.
The purpose of a Case Conference is to get both parties ready for the contested divorce hearing, which will take the form of a trial. If there is a possibility of settlement, the Assistant Registrar may refer the case for counselling with a Court Family Specialist or for a Family Dispute Resolution Conference.
If the settlement is not possible, the Assistant Registrar will ask both parties to file Affidavits of Evidence-in-Chief. If you are not sure what to say, or need help preparing your affidavit, you should seek independent legal advice immediately.
Further information on Case Conferences may be found at paragraph 86 of the Practice Directions.
A contested divorce hearing is very different from an uncontested divorce hearing. Depending on the number of witnesses and the complexity of the case, the whole process may require from one day to several days. Contested divorces are much more time-consuming and costly than uncontested divorce hearings.
At the end of both types of divorce hearing, the Judge will grant an Interim Judgment if he or she is satisfied that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Any Ancillary Matters will be adjourned to be heard in chambers.
The Interim Judgment is a provisional order for divorce. It is made final, or confirmed, after three months. You cannot remarry until the Interim Judgment has been made final. This is the end of the first stage of your divorce case.