Legal system

Information about dealing with the family law legal system and courts.



The basics

Fact sheets

Court forms

Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or present in court
Checklist of the information/facts needed to support an application for child or spousal support/maintenance, guardianship/custody, or contact/parenting time/access. Also contains a link to a downloadable PDF checklist.

Frequently asked technical questions about the Supreme Court family forms
Answers some of the more common technical questions about how to use the Supreme Court family forms.

Problems using the Supreme Court PDF forms?
Tips on what to do if you can't use the PDF forms or have questions about how they work.

Tips about Provincial Court orders
How to draft a consent order and how an order is drafted in court.

Tips for using the Supreme Court Word forms
Technical tips on how to use the online Word versions of the Supreme Court forms.

Tips for drafting an affidavit
Tips on how to write an affidavit: what information to include and in what order, what it should look like, how to use and attach exhibits, and how to swear or affirm the finished affidavit.

Tips for drafting a Supreme Court order
Tips on how to write an order: what information to include and in what order, who drafts it, what form to use, when to draft it, what happens after it's drafted or if the other party won't sign, and more.

Court process

All about court orders
Describes both final and interim orders, and touches on how to appeal and change orders or change an interim into a final order.

Can you appeal an order?
Under which circumstances, and in which court, orders can be appealed.

Coping with the court process
Tips for handling the stress of representing yourself in court.

Do you need to go to Provincial (Family) Court or Supreme Court?
The difference between Provincial and Supreme Court for family law issues and when you might use each court.

How can I research other family law cases?
Explains how to research case law using the CANLII website.

What do I need to represent myself in my family law case?
Describes where to find the information you need if you're acting as your own lawyer in the family justice system in BC.

What happens if I don't follow a court order or agreement?
Explains the consequences of not following a support order or agreement, or a parenting order or agreement.

What if the other party doesn't follow the parenting agreement or order?
Describes what might happen if the other party doesn't follow the parenting agreement or order and sets out the various penalties the court might impose.

What to do if the other party doesn't respond to your application for an order
Explains what you should do if the other party hasn't responded to your application for a court order and the deadline to respond has passed.

When a case involves more than one province, territory, or country (Interjurisdictional issues)
Explains how to change or enforce a support order that was made in a different place than where one or both parties now live (an interjurisdictional issue).

When can you change a final order?
When you can apply to change an order and what the court can do.

Provincial Court

Family Case Conference checklist
Checklist of the information/facts you need when you attend a Provincial Court Family Case Conference to try to settle some parenting, guardianship, and contact with a child (and sometimes child and spousal support) issues without going to court for a full hearing.

Family Case Conferences in Provincial Court
What a Family Case Conference in Provincial Court is and what might happen at such a conference.

How to prepare for a trial in Provincial Court
Describes the Provincial Court trial process and how to prepare a trial book.

What will happen at my Provincial Court trial?
What happens at a Provincial Court trial and what to do to be well-prepared.

Supreme Court

Costs and expenses
Describes costs and expenses in a family law court case, sets out the difference between them and what they consist of, and explains how to collect them. Includes links to the necessary blank forms for Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.

Discovery — Sharing information with the other party
Describes requirements for sharing information with the other party during the discovery process for Supreme Court family law cases.

Judicial Case Conferences in Supreme Court
What a Judicial Case Conference in Supreme Court is, when it happens, who must attend, and who may be excused from attending.

Preparing to attend Supreme Court
Tips for getting ready to go to court when you represent yourself (don't have a lawyer).

Present your evidence in Supreme Court
The types of evidence you can prepare and present in a Supreme Court trial when you represent yourself (don't have a lawyer).

Sample questions to ask when cross-examining witnesses at a Supreme Court trial
Information about cross-examining witnesses if you represent yourself, plus sample questions to ask.

Sample questions to ask witnesses at a Supreme Court trial
Information about questioning witnesses if you represent yourself, plus sample questions to ask.

Tips for conducting your Supreme Court trial
Tips about representing yourself at trial, such as the rules of courtroom behaviour.

What happens at a Supreme Court trial?
What happens at a Supreme Court trial when you represent yourself (don't have a lawyer).

What happens in a Supreme Court Chambers hearing?
What happens when you go to Supreme Court Chambers to make (or respond to) an application.

Legislation/Court rules

Family law in BC after March 18, 2013
What was updated on this website to reflect the Family Law Act that came into effect on March 18, 2013.

Frequently asked questions about the BC Family Law Act
Answers to commonly-asked questions about the law.

If you started your Supreme Court case before July 1, 2010
Links to all the resources (process descriptions, forms, etc.) on this website that came into effect July 1, 2010.

Old Rules/New Rules in Supreme Court
A list of the terms and form names used under the old Supreme Court Rules and the new Supreme Court Family Rules that came into effect on July 1, 2010. For people who started cases under the old rules and now need to figure out what the new terms/forms are called.

Questions about the Supreme Court Family Rules in effect July 1, 2010
Questions and answers about the new Supreme Court Family Rules effective July 1, 2010 that changed many Supreme Court family law court processes.

Which laws apply to your case?
The two family laws in effect in BC (Divorce Act and Family Law Act) plus case law, and when each of these might be used in a family law case.

Getting help

Filling out court forms — Who can help
A list of people and organizations who can help with filling out court forms, where to find them, and links to further information.

Finding a public access computer
Provides a list of where to find computers that are available to the public for free in BC.

Getting legal aid if your children are (or may be) taken away
Advises parents whose children are (or may be) taken away by the Ministry of Children and Family Development to see a lawyer as soon as possible, and sets out their rights to legal aid if they are financially eligible.

How to prepare for a meeting with a family duty counsel lawyer
Tips on how to prepare for meeting with family duty counsel. Includes a list of documents to bring along.

How to work well with a lawyer
Tips for working well with a lawyer: how to prepare for meetings, keep records, help the lawyer work efficiently, follow through on your responsibilities. Also a downloadable checklist of all tips.

Swearing an Affidavit — Who can do it
A list of all the people authorized to act as commissioners for taking affidavits who can swear or affirm affidavits, in BC and elsewhere (includes lawyers, notaries, and government officials).

What an advocate can do for you
What an advocate is, what they can do, and where to find one.

What is independent legal advice?
Covers what independent legal advice is and why you should get it before you sign a family law agreement.

What you can expect from a lawyer
What a lawyer can do for a family law client, and a list of suggested questions to ask your lawyer.

Where can I get help with my other (non-family) legal problems?
Information about non-family legal problems that Legal Aid doesn't cover, including motor vehicle injury claims, WorkSafeBC issues, medical care situations, residential tenancy, credit/debt issues, real estate transfers, wills or business disputes, and shoplifting, and where you can get legal advice about these matters.

Who can help you reach an agreement?
Who can help you reach an agreement with your spouse about your family law issues. Describes family justice counsellors, mediators, and collaborative family lawyers and how to find them.

Videos

Giving Testimony in Supreme Court
How to prepare your spoken testimony, present it in Supreme Court, and respond to questions from the judge and the other party.

How to Use the Supreme Court Family Forms
Technical instructions on how to open, fill out, and save the most complicated of the Supreme Court PDF forms that were introduced on July 1, 2010.

An Inside Look at Family Mediation
Introduces mediation in family law cases and explains how it works.

Introduction to Supreme Court
Information for the day you go to court: what to bring and how to navigate the courthouse. Shows what the inside of a Supreme Court family courtroom looks like, and describes the roles of those present.

Questioning Witnesses in a Supreme Court Trial
Tips for using witnesses in a Supreme Court family law trial: choosing your witnesses, planning your questions, and procedure at trial. Also discusses the cross-examination process.

Scheduling and Preparing for a Supreme Court Trial
An overview of the steps leading up to a Supreme Court family law trial: scheduling a trial, attending a Trial Management Conference, and filing and serving the necessary documents.

Selected Topics in Family Law: Needed for Divorce: Your Marriage Certificate
What to do if your marriage certificate is missing, not in English, or contains mistakes.

Using Documents in a Supreme Court Trial
How to use documents as evidence in a Supreme Court family law trial and how to introduce exhibits with and without a witness.