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Serving court documents

All the court documents that you and your ex-partner prepare for your case have to be shared with one another. The court does not accept or consider information in one person’s documents if those documents have not already been provided to the other person.

When you give your documents to your ex-partner and he gives his to you, it is called serving court documents, or service of court documents.

Rules for serving

If you have a lawyer, they will serve the documents. If you don’t have a lawyer, you will have to serve your documents on your ex-partner.

There are very particular rules about how this is to be done, and if you don’t follow them, your documents may not be accepted by the court.

If you have to serve your documents yourself, we encourage you to follow the directions provided in the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Serving Documents: Guide to Procedures in Family Court, which you can find at the Family law Information Centre (FLIC) at your family court.

Be safe

If your ex-partner has a lawyer, you will serve court documents by taking them to the lawyer’s office, but if he does not, he will have to be served directly.

You should be very aware of your safety and/or the safety of any friends or family members who offer to assist you by serving your ex-partner with your court documents. Many abusers become aggressive when they are served with any kind of legal papers.

Ideally, you will be able to find someone who can serve your ex-partner in a public place (for example, his workplace, or at a time when he is with family members who will help to control his reaction) without you being present.

However, if it is not safe for a friend or family member to serve him, you can hire a professional process server to do this.