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Separation and divorce

The case protocol: A user’s guide

During your separation or divorce proceedings, you may have to complete a document known as the “case protocol”. In this article, we will look at the purpose of this document, the situations in which you must complete it, and the information it includes.

What is the purpose of the case protocol?

The case protocol is a form that you and your ex must complete at the start of certain court procedures.

Among other things, it sets time limits for certain steps required for the court process to proceed smoothly.

In particular, you and your ex can use it to indicate:

  • whether you are willing to take part in a settlement conference,
  • the date by which you will exchange documents and other evidence,
  • if you wish to have an expert prepare a report, the time limit for sending it to your ex and filing it in court.

You and your ex, as well as the judge, can use the case protocol to anticipate the various steps in the proceedings and provide follow-up, if required.

The time limits and the commitments set out in the case protocol must be respected.

A case protocol is only required in certain situations. Here are some examples.

Married couples

You must provide a case protocol for:

  • a divorce application,
  • an application to annul a marriage,
  • an application for a legal separation (separation from bed and board).

You don’t have to provide one for:

  • a joint application for divorce,
  • an application to modify custody or parenting time,
  • an application to modify an alimentary pension.

De facto partners

In most cases, you don’t have to provide a case protocol. There are some exceptions, however. For example, if your application is before the Superior Court of Quebec and does not concern child custody or child support, a case protocol is required.

If you’re not sure whether have to provide a case protocol in your situation, consult a lawyer or visit a Community Justice Centre.

There is only one case protocol for each court file. Therefore, you and your ex must collaborate to prepare it. You could meet to prepare it together, or you could each complete your part and then send it to the other to make sure it suits you both.

If a third party, such as the Director of Youth Protection or Revenue Quebec, is involved in the file, they can choose to participate in drawing up the case protocol.

Such third parties (known as “impleaded parties”) must inform you of their wish to participate in preparing the case protocol within 15 days of them being notified. If they do not respond, you can assume they do not want to participate.

Your ex refuses to collaborate?

If your ex does not collaborate with you to draw up the case protocol, you can file it on your own. Your ex will then have 10 days to inform the court of the points with which your ex does not agree.

If your ex does not respond within 10 days, the case will proceed as if you filed the case protocol together.

If your ex does express their disagreement within this time limit, you must try to reach an agreement on the case protocol. If this is impossible, you can ask a judge to rule on the matter (see also: “What if you and your ex can’t agree on the case protocol?” (below)).

Depending on the situation, you and your ex have either three months or 45 days from the date that the bailiff served the initial procedure to file your case protocol in the office of the court.

To know which time limit applies to your situation, contact the court office or a Community Justice Centre.

Make sure to think carefully about what you will put in the case protocol as you will be committed to respect this in the future.

You must fill out the form entitled “case protocol”. The model to be used varies according to the type of application you are doing and, in some cases, the particular judicial district.

To determine the correct form to use, look at the heading of the other documents in your court file (for example, Application for Divorce, Statement of Claim, etc.). There, you will find the judicial district, the name of the court, and the division handling your case.

Superior Court

Montreal Division (districts of Beauharnois, Bedford, Drummond, Gatineau, Iberville, Joliette, Labelle, Laval, Longueuil, Mégantic, Montréal, Pontiac, Richelieu, Saint-François, Saint-Hyacinthe, Terrebonne):

Québec Division (districts of Abitibi, Alma, Arthabaska, Baie-Comeau, Beauce, Bonaventure, Charlevoix, Chicoutimi, Frontenac, Gaspé, Kamouraska, Mingan, Montmagny, Québec, Rimouski, Roberval, Rouyn-Noranda, Saint-Maurice, Témiscamingue, Trois-Rivières): 

Court of Québec

Make sure to use the correct form for your situation. If you are unsure, contact the office of the court where your file was opened.

In some cases, you may have to attach certain documents to your case protocol. For example, if you’re married and asking for a partition of the family patrimony, you must attach a statement of your property indicating which items are included in the family patrimony and which are not.

Once the case protocol form has been completed, you and your ex must sign it and file it in the office of the court where your file was opened.

Need some assistance with the form?

You can visit a Community Justice Centre. A lawyer or notary there can help you complete the form.

If you and your ex have differences that prevent you from agreeing on the case protocol, each of you can file a proposal.

In this situation, you must indicate the points of difference between your two proposals.

A judge will examine your two proposals and can:

  • call you to a meeting to establish the case protocol with you or,
  • draw up the case protocol without consulting you.

After the case protocol has been filed in the court office, it will be examined by a judge. If the judge decides it’s necessary, they can call you to a “case management conference”within 20 days of the filing of the case protocol. The purpose of the conference is to resolve any issues related to the court proceedings. The judge may ask you to do certain things by a specific date.

If the judge does not contact you within this 20-day period, you can assume that your case protocol has been approved.

To change the case protocol after it has been filed, you and your ex will generally have to ask for the judge’s permission.

However, in some situations, you can change it without the judge’s permission, for example, to modify the time limit for exchanging certain documents with each other. In that situation, you must file the modified case protocol in the court office.

To find out if you need the judge’s permission and the procedure for requesting it, if necessary, contact the court office or visit a Community Justice Centre.


The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.

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