Only about 5 percent of family law matters commenced in Ontario actually make it all the way to trial. Approximately 95 percent settle before getting to trial. When a case does go to trial, usually it is because the facts of the case are unclear, or it is unclear how the law applies to those facts. In these cases often there are no previous Court decisions from other cases that can offer guidance on how the case should be resolved. Cases also go to trial when one or both parties are being unreasonable and have rejected good faith settlement offers, even when it would have made good sense for them to accept or at least make a counter offer. The last main reason that matters sometimes go to trial is because the legislation is worded in such a way that it is unclear. But this tends to happen very seldom because for the most part the legislation is drafted by professionals who have strong writing skills.
If your case is going to trial, it is absolutely crucial that you speak with a good family law lawyer beforehand, preferably one who has trial experience or who attended trials as an articling student. Another good reason to speak with a family law lawyer before going to trial is because you need to make sure that you are not the person who is being unreasonable. It is very easy to lose perspective when matters of children, money and emotion are all intertwined. Your family lawyer can see things more impartially than you can, and can give you an honest opinion on whether you are being sensible about things, or if the judge is likely going to find that you are unreasonable.
Trials are extremely expensive and if you lose, you could be ordered to pay the other side’s legal costs. You do not want to rush to trial in haste and then deal with the consequences afterwards. It is very important to plan things and contemplate carefully what the likely result of a trial will be. Speaking to a lawyer beforehand can help you get a grasp on where you are likely to stand after the dust has settled.