How to serve Provincial Court documents
Sometimes a legal process will require that documents be served. This means that you must provide the document(s) to the other party or parties in your case. There are two ways that you can serve court documents in a Provincial Court family case: by "personal service" or by "delivery."
- You must serve some Provincial Court documents by "personal service." This means that someone must physically hand the documents to the party who needs to receive it. You can't do this yourself — you must have someone else, who's at least 19 years old, serve it for you.
- You can serve most Provincial Court documents by "delivery." This means that the documents can be either dropped off, mailed, faxed, or emailed to the other party. The delivery method you use depends on what the other party has included in their "address for service" (see below).
How do I know what the address for service is?
The address for service is the address a party puts on their own court documents (such as their Application to Obtain an Order or Reply). It should be clearly written out on each court document. The address for service must include a postal address, but can include a fax number or email address.
You can only deliver a document to an address for service that appears on the court document. So even if you know the person's email address, you can't email the documents if the email address is not included in the address for service.
The court rules use the word "serve" when they are talking about both personal service and service by delivery, so it can be hard to figure out if a document needs to be served personally. There are only a few Provincial Court documents that must be served personally:
- Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1);
- Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements (Form 2);
- Order to Recognize an Extraprovincial Order for Guardianship, Parenting Arrangements or Contact (Form 22);
- a request for court enforcement under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act;
- a subpoena; and
- a summons.
All other Provincial Court documents can be served by delivery.
Important: There are different rules for personal service on the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (and in some other special situations, such as when the other party is a business). See Rule 9(1) of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules.
Once you know how you're going to serve the document, select the correct instructions below.