You have been retained as legal counsel on a contentious child and spousal support matter. You consult with the client, draft and issue the appropriate materials. Then, following the first appearance, you are advised by the Court that the first available date before a Judge is more than four months away. You are also advised that a case conference is available before a Dispute Resolution Officer (“DRO”), within the month. Which option should you book? Is a DRO conference a useful step? What should you do to advance your client’s interests in an expeditious way?
What is a DRO?
DROs are senior lawyers, appointed after a vetting process by the judiciary in the jurisdiction, who assist in select Ontario Superior Court of Justice locations across Ontario. DROs are currently available in the following Regions:
- Central East Region (at the Newmarket, Durham/Oshawa, and Barrie judicial centres),
- Central West Region (at the Milton and Brampton judicial centres),
- Central South Region (at the Hamilton, St. Catharines, Kitchener, and Welland judicial centres),
- South West Region (at the London judicial centre),
- East Region (at the Kingston judicial centre) and
- Toronto (at 393 University Avenue).
Each court location has a DRO schedule, with DROs scheduled from one to four days per week.
Where DROs exist, DROs shall hear all first case conferences for motions to change under Rule 15 of the Family Law Rules and complete a “Screening Report” after the conclusion of the DRO Case Conference, which will be included as part of the court file.