An initiating application is a request for a court order to resolve a family law dispute. It is usually used to seek financial orders (governing property settlements and the payment of maintenance) or parenting orders (deciding where children will live and when or how they will spend time with the other parent).
When one party files an initiating application, the person affected by the order (the other parent, former spouse, or former domestic partner) has the right to file a response. This article will explain that process.
If you do not oppose the requested order, you need not file a response. If that is the case, however, both parties can save time and money by filing an application for a consent order.
You can file a response if you oppose the requested order because you think no order is needed, or if you want the court to enter a different order. For example, you can ask for your children to live with you rather than the other parent.
Your written response must be filed no later than 7 days prior to the court date specified on the Initiating Application. A lawyer can prepare the response on your behalf and can advise you of the contents that would be most appropriate to your case.
Other documents you must file
If you are responding to a request for interim parenting orders (decisions that will affect the children until all parenting issues are finally resolved), you must file an affidavit with the response. A lawyer can help you prepare an affidavit.
If you are responding to a request for a financial order, you need to file a financial statement. The court can provide you with a copy of the financial statement form. You will need to disclose your income, assets, and other financial information on the financial statement.
If you allege that you or your child have been the victim of, or are at risk of, abuse by the party who filed the Initiating Application, and if that abuse is relevant to the court orders that the other party seeks, you must file Form 4 (Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence, or Risk of Family Violence). You can get a copy of that form at a Family Law Registry. You must also file an affidavit that provides the details of the abuse or explains your fear of abuse.
Once you have completed and filed the response and any accompanying documents, you must serve them on the other party. Service must be made within 7 days prior to the hearing date specified on the Initiating Application.