Law Frequently Asked Questions

How long does my spouse have to respond to my Petition or Petition for Divorce?

If your spouse lives in Manitoba your spouse has 20 days to respond by filing in court and serving you with an Answer. If your spouse lives outside of Manitoba but in Canada or the United States, your spouse has 40 days to respond by filing and serving an Answer. If your spouse lives outside of Canada and the United States your spouse has 60 days to respond.

Do I need to serve anyone else with family court documents?

Depending on the type of court matter, you may need to notify certain third parties by serving them with court documents. For example, you must serve the Director of Child and Family Services if you are asking for a declaration of parentage. You must serve the Director of Employment and Income Assistance if you are asking for an order to cancel support arrears or suspend enforcement of support. An initiating pleading, such as a Petition, must generally be served within one year of when it was filed.
See The Court of Queen’s Bench Rules, Rule 70.06(5) for specific service requirements:

What happens if my spouse will not sign the divorce papers?

The person who serves the Petition for Divorce will ask your spouse to sign a document called an Acknowledgment of Service. If your spouse refuses to sign this document, the divorce can still proceed. The person who serves your spouse will fill out an Affidavit of Service and indicate that they asked your spouse to sign and your spouse refused. This does not delay the divorce process.
If your spouse does not file an Answer in response to your Petition for Divorce, you can note your spouse in default and still proceed on an uncontested basis.

What do I do if I can’t find my spouse to serve him/her with documents?

If you have taken reasonable steps to try and locate your spouse and can’t find your spouse, you may be able to apply for an order from the court for substituted service. If an order for substituted service is granted, the court may allow you to serve the documents in some other way, such as by publishing in a newspaper or serving on a family member.

You can apply for an order of substituted service by filing a Notice of Motion and an Affidavit giving evidence of all the attempts that you have made to locate your spouse.

How does my ex-partner find out that I filed in court?

You must give the court documents to your ex-partner (serve documents) so that your ex-partner knows that you have started a court proceeding. If you filed a Petition, Petition for Divorce, or a Notice of Motion to Vary you must serve these documents personally. This means that the document must be given in person to the other party. However, you can’t be the one to personally serve them. You must get a third party, such as a friend, family member, or process server to give them the Petition, Petition for Divorce, or Notice of Motion to Vary.
The person that serves your ex-partner will fill out and swear a document called an Affidavit of Service that provides details about how they served your ex-partner.

Are there any other documents that can be filed to start a family proceeding?

You would file a Notice of Application to start court proceedings like adoptions, guardianship, and applications for access by someone other than a parent. You would file a Statement of Claim if you are dealing with a civil dispute.

How do I know whether to file a Petition or a Petition for Divorce to start family proceedings?

If you are married, you would file a Petition for Divorce, if you are asking for a divorce, whether or not you are asking for other family relief (support, custody, property division).

If you are unmarried, or common-law, you would file a Petition. If you are married, but not asking for a divorce, you would file a Petition.

Where do I file to get a family court order?

In the Winnipeg, Selkirk, and Brandon areas you will file in the Court of Queen’s Bench (Family Division) for all family court orders (support, divorce, property division).
If you live in a rural area outside of these communities you can file in the Provincial Court if asking for custody, access to children, support, and protection orders. You must file in the Court of Queen’s Bench if asking for a divorce, property division, or for a court order dealing with access or restricting access to property.
There is a listing of Court of Queen’s Bench locations at the following link to the Manitoba Courts Website:
Provincial Court locations can be found at the following link to the Manitoba Courts Website:

I was registered with the Maintenance Enforcement Program but I opted out when my ex-spouse was briefly out of a job. He is employed again. Now what can I do?

You may opt in or out of the Maintenance Enforcement Program at any time. There may be a cost to opt back into the program.

How do I find out whether my application for Legal Aid has been approved?

It usually takes about 10 business days for Legal Aid to process your application. To check on the status of your application you can contact the Area Office where you applied:

Winnipeg: 985-8506 or 1-800-261-2960

Brandon: 729-3484 or 1-800-876-7326

Dauphin: 622-7000 or 1-800-810-6977

Thompson or The Pas: 677-1211 or 1-800-665-0656

What happens if the lawyer will not agree to arbitration?

In this case, you can apply to the Court of Queen’s bench for an assessment of your lawyer fees. You need to file a Form 71A Notice of Application for Assessment of Lawyer’s Bill and a Form 4D Affidavit. The forms are available on-line on the Manitoba Courts website:

Once completed, the forms must be filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench (in Winnipeg – Law Courts Building 408 York).

Is there any way to challenge the lawyer fees that I have been charged?

The Law Society of Manitoba offers a fee arbitration program. Both you and the lawyer must agree to arbitration.  The Law Society will arrange for a review of the statement of account by a neutral arbitrator or panel of three arbitrators. There is no charge for this review. Both you and the lawyer will be at the meeting. The review process is informal.  You do not need a lawyer. The arbitrator will either reduce the fee or not.

Contact the Law Society for further information or to request  an arbitration.

Another option is to have the fee assessed by an officer of the Court of Queen’s Bench. You do not need your lawyer’s agreement to have the fee assessed. To arrange for an assessment call (204) 945-0994. You should act quickly if you want an assessment. You only have up to 6 months after you receive the lawyer’s final statement of account to apply.

Do I have any options if the Law Society of Manitoba refuses to investigate my complaint?

There is an appeal available to the Complaints Commissioner, a non-lawyer who is independent of the Law Society of Manitoba. The Complaints Commissioner can review the decision.

The Complaints Review Commissioner has two choices:

  1. dismiss the complaint (which ends the matter), or
  2. direct the Law Society to investigate.

To request a review by the Complaints Review Commissioner, write to:

Complaints Review Commissioner

P.O. Box 2234

Winnipeg, MB R3C 3R5

Where can I file a complaint about the conduct of a lawyer?

If you are concerned about something a lawyer has done (or not done), you should contact the Complaints Resolution Department of the Law Society.

Before sending them a formal complaint, consider phoning them first. They may be able to help you work things out.

If you want to proceed with a formal complaint, you must do this in writing. You can write the Law Society a letter outlining the details of your complaint, or fill out a Complaint Help Form.  You must sign the letter or form.

Call the Law Society at (204) 942-5571 to get a copy of the form.

Be sure to include:

  • your name, address and telephone number;
  • the name, law firm name and address of the lawyer you are complaining about; and
  • copies (not originals) of any other letters or documents which support your claim.

Send everything to:

Complaints Resolution Department Paralegal

The Law Society of Manitoba

219 Kennedy Street

Winnipeg, MB, R3C 1S8


Can I appeal the decision of the Executive Director of Legal Aid?

If the Executive Director refuses your appeal, you can appeal his decision to Legal Aid’s Appeal Committee. You can appeal by filling in the form that came with the Executive Director’s refusal, or, by writing a letter and sending it to:

Legal Aid Management Council Appeal Committee

4th Floor – 287 Broadway

Winnipeg MB R3C 0R9

In your Appeal letter, say why you think the decision was wrong. The Appeal Committee will consider your reasons and will review your file. The Appeal Committee will then make its decision. You will receive a letter notifying you about the Appeal Committee’s decision.  The Appeal Committee’s decision is final. There are no further appeals.

Legal Aid turned down my application. Can I appeal?

Yes, you can appeal the decision to the Executive Director. An appeal form will be sent to you with the Notice of Rejection. The appeal must be submitted within 30 days of when you receive the Notice of Rejection in the mail. The appeal form should be sent to:

Executive Director

Legal Aid Manitoba

4th Floor – 287 Broadway

Winnipeg MB  R3C 0R9

Say why you think the decision was wrong. The Executive Director will consider your reasons and will review your file. He will either approve legal aid or not. If he refuses your appeal, he will send you a letter telling you why. The Executive Director will make a decision on your appeal within 5 working days, unless he needs further information from you.

Legal Aid told me that I qualify financially but the criminal offence that I have been charged with is a summary conviction matter with no real chance of jail time. I can not afford a lawyer. Do I have any other options?

You can contact the University of Manitoba Law Centre at:

Faculty of Law – 101 Robson Hall

University of Manitoba

Winnipeg MB R3T 2N2

Phone: 204-985-5206 Fax: 204-474-7580

Is there an emergency Legal Aid phone number if I have been arrested?

You can contact Legal Aid 24 hours a day at 1-800-672-1043 or 204-985-8570.

How do I contact Legal Aid?

You can apply for Legal Aid at their Application Centre in Winnipeg

100 – 287 Broadway, R3C 0R9

The hours are:

Mondays & Tuesdays – 12:30 to 4:00 pm

Wednesdays & Thursdays – 1:30 to 4:00 pm

Phone:  (204) 985-8500 or 1-800-261-2960

Outside Winnipeg:


1-800-876-7326 or (204) 729-3484


1-877-822-4660 or (204) 622-4666

The Pas

1-855-787-0694 or (204) 627-4837


1-800-665-0656 or (204) 677-1224

Other Offices:

Public Interest Law Centre

300 – 287 Broadway

Winnipeg, R3C 0R9

Phone:  (204) 985-8540 or 1-800-261-2960

University of Manitoba Community Law Centre

Faculty of Law – 101 Robson Hall

University of Manitoba

Winnipeg, R3T 2N2

Phone:  (204) 985-5206






When does my landlord have to give me a new lease agreement? My year-long lease is almost up.

Three months before your lease is up, your landlord should provide you with a new lease agreement for the same length of time and with the same benefits and obligations, excluding a possible rent increase.


How do I get my landlord to make repairs to my suite?

Your landlord has an obligation to keep the premises in a good state of repair, fit for habitation and in a state that complies with health, building and maintenance and occupancy standards required by law.

You should try to speak with your landlord first to see if you can work something out. Maybe consider writing a letter. If that does not work, you can apply to the Director of Residential Tenancies.

You can contact the Residential Tenancies Branch for more information:

Residential Tenancies Branch

302 – 254 Edmonton Street

Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3Y4

Telephone (204) 945-2476; Toll Free: 1-800-782-8403

Fax: (204) 945-6273


How much do I need for down payment?

The down payment ranges from 5% to 25% of the purchase price. If a down payment equals 25% or more of the purchase price you will likely qualify for a conventional mortgage loan, which does not require mortgage loan insurance. If the down payment is less than 25% of the purchase price, insurance will be required to protect the lender against payment default. You may qualify for a down payment as low as 5% through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

You can contact the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation for more information:

Winnipeg Office

600 – 175 Hargrave Street

Winnipeg, MB
R3C 3R8


Are there any expenses besides my mortgage payments and utilities that I should consider when trying to purchase a home?

Your monthly housing costs will also include taxes and insurance. These rates will vary from house to house. The actual purchase of a home has additional expenses, like lawyer fees, land transfer tax, application fees, property tax adjustment, home inspections, moving costs, mortgage loan insurance premium, appraisal fees, deposit (at least 5%), property insurance, survey or certificate of location, water tests, septic tank inspection and title insurance. Other costs to consider include: appliances, gardening equipment, snow-clearing equipment, window treatments, decorating materials, hand tools, renovations/repairs, service connection fees, hydro fees and condo fees.

Can a car dealership sell me a vehicle that is not safetied?

A dealership must provide you with a Certificate of Inspection (or “safety”) if they are selling you a used vehicle. A Certificate of Inspection ensures that a vehicle meets minimum equipment and performance standards before it can be driven.If the vehicle is new, you should receive a New Vehicle Information Statement.

For more information see:

I received a gift certificate for a manicure and it has an expiry date. I thought that new laws prohibited expiry dates on gift cards or certificates?

There are certain exceptions to the general rule of no expiry dates for gift cards. If the gift card is for a specific good or service, like a manicure, there may be an expiry date provided. Also, if the gift card was given without any payment (ie. promotional item) it also may contain an expiry date.

For more information, see:


I purchased a new TV and did not buy the warranty that came with it. The television did not work as soon as I set it up at home. Do I have any recourse?

There is an implied warranty that retail goods are fit for the purpose for which they are sold, unless a specific defect was mentioned upon the sale. If the store refuses to address the problem, you can contact the Consumers’ Bureau of Manitoba for assistance or consider court action.

The Consumer Protection office can be contacted by phone at (204) 945-3800 or toll free at 1-866-626-4862, or by email at


I loaned a friend $1,000 over a year ago and still haven’t been paid back. How can I get my money back?

You can sue your friend in Small Claims Court. To file a Small Claim, go to the local Small Claims Court office. You’ll have to fill in a form and pay a filing fee of $50.00. If your claim is for an amount under $5,000 you must pay a $50 filing fee. If your claim is for an amount between $5,001 and $10,000, you must pay a $75 filing fee.  A hearing date will be set for you when you hand in the form and pay the filing fee. Before the hearing date, you will have to provide a copy of the Claim to the person you are suing. You’ll get more information about how to do that when you file the claim. At the hearing, both you and your friend with have a chance to give your side of the story and to provide the Court with any evidence you have of the loan and any payments made.

For more information about Small Claims Court contact the Small Claims Court Office.

How long does the entire process take? (Immigration)

The sponsorship process involves two steps. The first step, approving your sponsorship application, was taking almost 4 years as of June 15, 2011.

The second step, approving your parents’ or grandparents’ application for permanent residence, can take years more. The actual amount of time it takes depends on your parents’ or grandparents’ country of citizenship or residency. As of
March 3 201 the processing times for Canadian visa posts in the following countries (the top 4 source countries for immigrants to Manitoba from 2007 to 2009) was as follows:

Philippines: over 2 ½ years
Germany: over 2 years
People’s Republic of China: almost 3 ½ years
India: over 2 ½ years

The figures for each country represent the time it took for the visa post in that country to process 80% of applications it received in a given period. As a result, a total time of 6 to 7 ½ years is not out of the question.

Can parents and grandparents visit Canada while their applications are being processed? (Immigration)

Yes, but if your parents or grandparents need a Temporary Resident Visa to travel to Canada, this can be challenging.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada recognizes that visitors to Canada can come to Canada for a temporary visit but still have the intent to immigrate to Canada permanently. This is known as “dual intent”. If a visitor has dual intent, they should be allowed into Canada.

In addition, Canada has a policy that is supposed to give guidance to immigration officers who process applications for parents and grandparents who want to visit. If your parents or grandparents meet the requirements of this policy, they should be allowed to visit.