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Definitions

Many of the words and terms used in family law matters are legal and technical. Following is a list of terms and what they mean.

Access

Time spent with a child to visit, parent, and/or foster a healthy relationship. Parents who are seeking a divorce may wish to address parenting time as defined in the Divorce Act.

Act

A statute enacted or passed into law by a legislature or Parliament

Action

A petition, application or claim that is made in the courts (e.g., when you apply to the court for a change in the enforcement of your child support payments, you are taking a legal action. You may take action to enforce your rights or to correct a wrong that is done to you).

Adjournment

The postponement of a court proceeding or session until another date; may be with or without a specified date which is sometimes referred to as being “adjourned sine die;” “sine die” is a Latin term meaning “without a day.”

Affidavit

A written statement of fact either sworn or affirmed by the person making it (called the “deponent”); different from verbal evidence given in court. An affidavit is used to set out facts that support the deponent’s position.

Affidavit Divorce

An uncontested divorce that is based on sworn evidence and requires no court appearance

Affidavit of Execution

An affidavit used to prove the identity of the person signing a document

Affidavit of
Service

An affidavit which sets out the manner, time and place that a document was served upon a person. It is proof that a person was served with a particular document in accordance with the rules of court, the terms of an order, or a provision or requirement of a family justice service.

Amicus Curiae

A Latin term meaning “friend of the court;” commonly found in family law cases. A person, usually a lawyer, is appointed as “amicus” on behalf of a child by the court. The amicus is responsible to the court in providing whatever input the court requires (e.g., the views of the child respecting proposed custody arrangements).

Applicable Prerequisites

See Prerequisites.

Applicant

A person who applies to the court for a remedy or relief set out in an Application

Application

A request of the court to make an order for the remedy or relief requested

Arrears

If a support payment is not made when due under the support order, that amount of unpaid support is referred to as in arrears.

Case
Conference

A meeting of a judge and the parties and/or their lawyers to ensure that procedures are followed for the cost-effective and timely determination of the case and to explore the possibility of settlement of issues in the case

Certificate of Prerequisite Completion

A document (Form 70D.3) that a party seeking a triage conference in a family proceeding must file and serve on the other party at least 14 days before the triage screening date, unless the parties have agreed to a shorter period of notice. The other party must file and serve a Certificate of Prerequisite Completion at least three days before the triage screening date.

Child Support Guidelines

The federal Divorce Act and The Family Maintenance Act of Manitoba set out rules for the amount of child support a payor is required to pay. The base amount payable depends on the payor’s income and the number of children to be supported. In addition to the base amount, the guidelines set out how much is to be paid for extraordinary or Section 7 expenses.

Child Support Service

The Child Support Recalculation Service was established to recalculate child support amounts in an administrative (out of court) process, in orders made under The Family Maintenance Act or the Divorce Act, where recalculation is authorized by the court.

The recalculation process takes place regularly, usually every two years. Both parents provide updated financial information, which is reviewed by a Support Determination Officer, who then makes a recalculation order updating the child support payable, based on the new financial information. The recalculation order is then placed on the court file and unless either parent objects to the recalculation, the order comes into effect 30 days after the parents have been notified of it.

There is no fee to have child support recalculated by the service.

Common Law

The law stated in the decisions of judges from early times to the present

Comparative Family Property Statement

A document (Form 70D.5) that each party in a family proceeding involving a property claim must file as a prerequisite to proceeding with an application. The form is an inventory of assets and debts owned by the parties at the date of separation, which is the valuation date.

Consent Order

A court order that shows both parties are in agreement with everything in the order

Contested

A term which describes a proceeding where the respondent takes steps to “contest” the claims of the petitioner/applicant; as opposed to an “uncontested” matter, where the responding party does not take any steps to oppose a petition or application

Costs

See Solicitor and Client Costs or Party and Party Costs

Counsel

To advise or persuade a person; another term for a lawyer as in “legal counsel”

Custody

The care and control of a child by a parent of that child; defined in The Family Maintenance Act, which addresses child custody and access as well as family financial obligations

Parents who are seeking a divorce may wish to address “Decision Making Responsibility” as defined in the Divorce Act.

Decision Making Responsibility

The responsibility for making significant decisions about a child’s well-being, including issues related to health, education, culture, language, religion, spirituality, and significant extra-curricular activities.

Desktop Order

An order granted by a Judge without the parties appearing before them in court

Disposition

The result of a case

Dispute
Resolution Process

A process to resolve legal matters, ranging from a collaborative process that involves parties agreeing on the process and the results, to an adversarial process where decisions are imposed.

Divorce Act

The federal statute that provides for the termination of a marriage, sets out the rights and obligations of the family members, and authorizes the court to make orders

Other federal legislation that is relied upon during separation and divorce may include:

Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act.

Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act.

Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act.

Docket

The list, or schedule, of court cases to be heard on a particular day; a brief record of the proceedings in the court for a particular day

Emergent
Situation

In a family proceeding, a situation that involves an immediate risk of harm to a party or a child of a party, the removal of a child from Manitoba or the loss or destruction of property

Ex Parte

Where a court proceeding is heard in the presence of one party only and without notice to the other party(s)

In the rules of The Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba, the term “ex parte” has been replaced with the words “without notice.”

Exhibit

Physical evidence that has been tendered or filed with the court (e.g., document)

Extraordinary expenses

In addition to the base amount of support payable under child support guidelines, the court can order the payment of additional expenses. These expenses can be for education, medical, dental, visual or other health care; child care or extracurricular activities.

Also referred to as Section 7 expenses.

The Family Maintenance Act

The provincial statute that sets out the rights and obligations of parents and children as they relate to financial matters, custody, access and enforcement of support

Other provincial legislation addressing family law matters includes:

The Child Custody Enforcement Act

The Family Property Act

The Homesteads Act

Family Mediator

A qualified professional in the area of conflict management; family mediators help the parties reach a decision and do not take sides, make decisions for clients or suggest solutions. The parties come up with their own solutions.

File (action of filing)

The act of providing your court documents to a court staff, usually a deputy registrar of The Court of Queen’s Bench, who reviews and stamps them with the filing date and places the original documents on the court file

For the Sake
of the Children

A course offering information to parents about the separation and divorce process, the effects of separation and divorce on children, advice about communication and legal information that affects parents and children. The course is required to be completed by parents who are requesting, or responding to, requests for orders involving parenting, access, or guardianship.

Hearing

A scheduled court session where a judge decides questions of fact and law in a dispute between opposing parties

Injunction

An order of the court requiring a person to not do some act, or not continue to do some act, that the court considers they have no right to do or, in the case of a mandatory injunction, an order that requires the person to do what the court considers they are legally required to do

Interim Order

A decision of a court that is not the final outcome of the matter; commonly occurs in family law cases regarding issues that may ultimately be decided at a later date (e.g., trial)

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence is actual or threatened physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or financial abuse directed toward a partner in an intimate relationship. It can include behaviours such as harassment and stalking. An intimate relationship can be between people who are married, living together, dating, separated or divorced.

Judgment

The final decision by the court in a legal proceeding; sometimes referred to as a decision; may be written or given orally in court; may also be reserved by the court at the end of the proceeding and given at a later date, usually in written form (e.g., Divorce Judgment)

Jurisdiction

The scope of authority given to a particular court, tribunal or other decision-making body; the types of cases a court or decision-making body has the power to determine; the geographical area in which a court or decision-making body has the power to make decisions

Justice of the Peace

A judicial officer with authority to determine matters as set out in a particular statute

Leave

The permission of the court to proceed (e.g., seek the leave of the court to file an appeal)

Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)

Authorized by The Family Maintenance Act to administer the spousal and child support obligations under the terms of a court order, agreement, or arbitration award

Maintenance payments are made to the program rather than to the payee/creditor. The program processes the payments, makes an accounting record of them, and forwards them to the payee/creditor.

Payors/debtors who pay late must pay penalties and fees. The program will enforce the payment of support obligations.

The program is free to either parent.

Master

A judicial officer of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Manitoba; has authority to make procedural orders during the course of a court proceeding and other orders as set out in the Rules of the Court

Mediation

A voluntary, confidential and informal process that addresses the concerns and needs of all parties involved in a family law dispute; parties engage in a facilitated conversation led by a family mediator; resolution is by mutual agreement of the parties

Motion

A request for an order for a particular relief or remedy; occurs during the course of a court proceeding

Notice of Motion

A request to the court for certain types of relief; must always be filed with an affidavit in support

Notice of Opposition to Variation

A document (Form 70H.1) that a responding party in a family proceeding must file in response to a Notice of Motion to Vary or Notice of Application to Vary if they intend to oppose the Notice of Motion to Vary or Notice of Application to Vary

Order

A decision of a court or other decision-making body that may, or may not, be the final outcome of the matter

Parenting Arrangements

In family law cases, an order describes the arrangements made for the care of children when parents separate. This term is used in the federal Divorce Act, which will come into effect on March 1, 2021; replaces the use of the word “custody.”

See Custody for an explanation of Manitoba’s family legislation and terminology.

Under the federal Divorce Act, parenting arrangements address who will have decision-making responsibility (formerly custody), and how parenting time (formerly access) may be divided up

Parenting Plan

A written document that outlines how a parent proposes to raise their children after separation or divorce.

Under the Divorce Act, refers to the time that a child of the marriage spends in the care of a parent or appropriate guardian.

Parents in common-law relationships, or who are married but not seeking a divorce, may wish to address “access” as defined in The Family Maintenance Act.

Party

A person who is a petitioner, applicant or respondent in a family law proceeding

Party and Party Costs

The costs that may be awarded by the court to a person, in accordance with the tariff or schedule of costs set by the court for that particular proceeding (e.g., for the hearing of a motion); does not include the person’s lawyer’s fees

Peace Bond

An Order under Section 810 of the Criminal Code that requires a respondent to have no contact with persons named in the order and to stay away from specific places; individuals usually apply for peace bonds in non-emergency situations, and the respondent receives notice of the application. The legal document and process is the same for both family and non-family proceedings.

Person Standing
in the Place of
a Parent

Someone who is not a biological parent of a child, but who acts like a parent to the child; may be treated by the court in the same way as a biological parent would be for decision making/custody and parenting time/access rights; court may also decide that the person has a financial responsibility to support the child. In the past, the term “In Loco Parentis” was used.

Petition

A document which may start a family court proceeding; usually seeks from the court relief that is set out under a particular statute (e.g., a Petition for a Divorce under the federal Divorce Act)

Pleadings

The documents that are filed with the court by the parties to a proceeding which set out the issues or matters to be determined by the court; the foundational documents which form the record of the case with the court

Pro Bono

A Latin term meaning “for the good,” used to describe a lawyer’s services that are provided free of charge

Prerequisites

Steps that must be completed by the parties to a family proceeding in order to get a triage conference date

Prevention
Order

An order granted by The Court of Queen’s Bench of Manitoba under The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act, that protects the applicant by prohibiting the respondent from following the applicant, attending a place where the applicant lives or works or communicating with the applicant; may authorize other actions, such as removal of the respondent from the home by a peace officer; may be made without telling the other party (“ex parte”)

Prioritized
Hearing

In a family proceeding, a hearing that is held before the first case conference to address issues that need to be addressed, but cannot be resolved at the triage conference

Protection Order

An order granted by the Provincial Court under The Domestic Violence and Stalking Act in emergency situations, that protects the applicant by prohibiting the respondent from following the applicant, attending a place where the applicant lives or works, or communicating with the applicant; may authorize other actions such as granting the applicant possession of necessary personal effects or removal of the respondent from the home by a peace officer; an order made without notice (“ex parte”) to the other person and expires after three years.

Reciprocating Jurisdiction

A province, state or country that has an agreement with Manitoba that they will each enforce the other's support order when one party lives in Manitoba and the other party lives in another province, state or country

Record of Proceedings

Regarding a particular case, the listing or recording by the court of all of the appearances and/or proceedings and their results before the court

Registrar

An officer of the court office or “registry” who receives documents for filing with the court; has authority to certify or confirm decisions on behalf of the court

Regulation

A rule or order made by government to carry out the purpose set out in a statute

Request for
Triage
Conference

A document (Form 70D.2) that a party seeking a triage conference in a family proceeding must file and serve on the other party at least 14 days before the triage screening date, unless the parties have agreed to a shorter period of notice

Respondent

The person responding to, or in opposition to, an application, petition, or other court action

Rule of Law

Another term for law and order; the principles that require that the powers of the state be derived from and limited either by legislation enacted by Parliament or a legislature or judicial decisions made by independent courts

Rules of Court

The procedures which govern the proceedings in the court and which are to be followed by the parties

Section 7
expenses

See Extraordinary expenses

Service

The delivering to a person of a copy of a document that has been filed with the court; the manner of service (e.g., in person), and time frame within which service must occur as set out in the Rules of Court or in the particular statute governing the case

Sheriff

An officer of the court who is responsible for maintaining the security of the court. Sheriff officers also help serve court documents and carry out court orders (e.g., the seizure and sale of assets of indebted persons).

Short Leave

A request of the court that a matter be heard by the court (e.g., a motion, within a time frame that is shorter than what is normally required by the rules of the court); usually short leave is asked for when the matter is considered to be urgent by the requesting party

Solicitor and
Client Costs

Also called “lawyer and client costs,” refers to the court awarding costs to a party that include the legal fees (or portion thereof) of the party who has been awarded costs

Statute

A law or act enacted or passed into law by Parliament or a legislature

Submission

Similar to argument; the address or presentation of the parties to the court at the end of a particular proceeding, after the evidence has been presented and before the court is to make its decision; an opportunity for the parties to summarize the issues, evidence and law and to persuade the court to make a decision in their favour

Subpoena

A command to appear at a specific time and place to give testimony in regard to a particular matter; sometimes requires the person to produce a document or other things in his/her possession

Surety

In criminal proceedings, a person who, with or without being required to post a sum of money or security, guarantees that an accused person who has been granted bail will appear for his or her trial and/or next scheduled court appearance

Suspension of Enforcement

Temporary stoppage of enforcement of support obligations; a suspension may be ordered by the court or, in some cases, administratively granted by the Maintenance Enforcement Program

Support
Order

An order directing that money be paid on a regular basis for spousal/common-law partner support or child support; the word “maintenance” may be used instead of “support;” replaced the old term “alimony” which once used to refer to spousal support

Tariff

A list or schedule of the costs of particular court processes and filings with the court; when a court awards costs to a party, it is usually based on the tariff established by the court

Title of Proceedings

The formal name of the court case (e.g., in civil proceedings, “John Smith v. Jane Smith;” the heading in a court document that describes the parties to the legal proceeding; may also be called the “style of cause”

Transcript

The official paper record of a court proceeding produced by the transcribing of a recording of the proceedings taken in court (e.g., from a digital recording)

Triage
Conference

A meeting of a judge and the parties and/or their lawyers in a family proceeding where the judge may help narrow or resolve issues and judge matters that should be determined before the first case conference

Triage
Conference
Co-ordinator

A court official who determines if all applicable prerequisites in a family proceeding have been completed in order to set a triage conference date for the proceeding

Triage Judge

A judge who presides at a triage conference in a family proceeding

Triage Screening

In a family proceeding, a process where a triage conference coordinator determines if all applicable prerequisites have been completed in order to set a triage conference date for the proceeding

Trial

A court session where a judge decides questions of fact and law in a dispute; evidence of witnesses is generally given verbally, rather than by sworn statement or affidavit

Trial
Readiness Certificate

A document (Form 70S.3) that each party in a family proceeding must file no later than 45 days before a scheduled trial or final hearing

Undertaking

In a family court matter, a promise given by a party or witness to answer a specific question or provide a document or other information at a later date

Viva Voce
Evidence

Oral evidence of a witness in a court proceeding as opposed to evidence given in the form of an affidavit; “viva voce” is a Latin term meaning “living voice.”

Writ

An order issued by the court requiring the performance of a specified act or the giving of authority to have it done

More definitions can be found at http://www.manitobacourts.mb.ca/general-information/definitions-understanding-legal-words/