Fact sheets

Click the headings below (Aboriginal people, Abuse & family violence, etc.) to see a list of all fact sheets available on that topic.

Aboriginal people

Child protection

Child protection and the Aboriginal community
Identifies the law around child protection for Aboriginal children in BC, sets out some aspects of the child protection/removal process, and explains parents' and band rights and responsibilities.

Understanding Aboriginal child protection/removal matters
Describes what Aboriginal parents can do if they're being investigated for a child protection matter.

Understanding delegated Aboriginal agencies
An overview of delegated Aboriginal agencies (a part of the Ministry of Children and Family Development who provide child welfare services) and their potential role in Aboriginal child protection matters.

Understanding child protection mediation for Aboriginal families
Explains what mediation is, how it works, and how it can help Aboriginal families. Also includes how to find a mediator.

Understanding court orders and hearings — Information for Aboriginal families
Describes the court orders and hearings that are part of the process for child protection cases.

Understanding the Extended Family Program
Explains what the Extended Family Program is and how it allows your children to live with family or friends instead of going into foster care. Also includes who can become a caregiver.

Family law

Aboriginal people and family law issues
A brief overview of family law legal issues as they apply to Aboriginal people. Covers caring for children, parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, property, and income assistance.

Abuse & family violence

What is abuse?
A list of examples of relationship abuse (family violence) that are physical, emotional or verbal, psychological, sexual, and financial; describes types of abuse that are crimes and where to get legal and other help.

Family law protection orders
Explains what a family law protection order is, how to apply for one, and what happens once the protection order is in place.

What if your ex is harassing you through the courts?
Describes the kinds of behaviour involved in court-related abuse and harassment and suggest what people can do about it and what the court can do.

What to take with you if you leave your relationship
A list of the important documents and belongings to take along if you're leaving a relationship.

What's the difference between peace bonds and family law protection orders?
Describes the difference between a peace bond and a family law protection order, explains which one to choose for each situation, and sets out what each one can do/cover.

Adoption

Adoption
Defines adoption, sets out how adoption works in BC, and provides links to other resources.

Child protection/removal

Collaborative planning and decision making in child protection cases
Describes how to work with the Ministry of Children and Family Development to make a plan or agreement about your child's care. Options include family group conferences, traditional decision making for Aboriginal families, and mediation to resolve issues instead of going to court.

Family group conferences
Explains the option of collaborative decision making, where a child’s parents, relatives, close friends, or other community members meet about how to keep the child safe and to develop a plan for the child's well-being.

Family support services
Family support services can provide parents with temporary help from the Ministry of Children and Family Development or an Aboriginal delegated agency to care for their children in rough times.

Making agreements for your child's care
Describes help you can get to care for your child and reduce the strain on your family, including from community services or government programs and by making family support agreements, Voluntary Care Agreements, or Special Needs Agreements.

Mediation in child protection cases
Defines mediation, describes when it can help in child protection/removal cases, lists tips for working with a mediator, and provides links to other useful resources.

Special Needs Agreements
Describes assistance programs from the Ministry of Children and Family Development for children with permanent or long-term severe or developmental disabilities or identified as at risk for developmental delay.

Tips about making agreements for your child's care
Describes what to keep in mind if you’re thinking of making an agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Development about your child's care. Tips include getting legal help, being part of decision making, and keeping notes.

Voluntary Care Agreement
Describes the Voluntary Care Agreement, a written agreement proposed when parents face a crisis that leaves them temporarily unable to care for their children at home.

Children & teens

Child support

Can you sue your parents for support?
Under which circumstances and how a child (anyone under 19, or anyone over 19 but with a disability or who is otherwise unable to support him or herself) is entitled to go to court to ask for child support from his or her parents.

Court-ordered plan of care

Why see a lawyer about your court-ordered plan of care?
Information for young people aged 12 to 18 about their rights if they have been asked to agree (in writing) to a court order for a plan of care by a child protection worker for the director of Child, Family, and Community Services.

Guardianship

Can you become a guardian of your younger brother or sister?
When older brothers or sisters who are 19 or over may apply to court for guardianship of their siblings who are under 19 and sets out the factors the court considers in making the decision.

If your parents separate

If your parents separate, can you decide which parent you want to live with?
The rights of youth when their parents separate and what the courts consider when making custody decisions.

Parental consent

Do you need your parents' permission to see a doctor?
The rights of children and youth, if they are capable, to see a doctor and have their visit kept confidential from their parents.

Common-law relationships

Separation

Separation
Describes what separation is, whether it's between married or common-law couples. Includes what to take with you when you leave and the reasons for writing a separation agreement.

Rights and responsibilities

Thinking of moving in together?
Describes the legal issues related to common-law relationships (involving property, debt, children, benefits, and wills).

Wills and estates

If your common-law partner dies
Describes the rights common-law partners have if their partner dies.

Divorce & separation

Divorce

Divorce
Explains what divorce is, including the difference between uncontested and contested divorce, what's required to get a divorce, and an overview of the process. Also lists several available resources for getting help.

Frequently asked questions about marriages, divorces, and annulments inside and outside Canada
Answers some frequently asked questions about how moving from country to country can affect your marital status in BC and abroad.

Same-sex marriage/divorce: How to get a divorce if your home country doesn't recognize your marriage
Describes how you can get a divorce if your same-sex marriage isn't recognized in your home country.

Separation

Separation
Describes what separation is, whether it's between married or common-law couples. Includes what to take with you when you leave and the reasons for writing a separation agreement.

How can you prove you're separated if you and your spouse still live together?
Describes how you can prove to a court that you and your spouse have actually separated if you're still living together for financial or other reasons but want to get a divorce and/or divide up your assets.

What to take with you if you leave your relationship
A list of the important documents and belongings to take along if you're leaving a relationship.

Dividing property

Dealing with debts after separation (for married and common-law couples)
Describes what the basic guidelines are around debts after separation for married and common-law couples.

How to divide property and debts
Describes what the law says about dividing property/debt, defines family property, family debt, and excluded property, sets out when and how unequal division is possible, and outlines time limits for settling property/debt after separation/divorce.

Separation: Protecting yourself financially
Describes the steps you can take to protect your property before final agreements or court orders are in place.

What you need to know about dividing pensions and other employment benefits
Provides basic information about how to divide employment benefits and pensions after separation/divorce. Includes information on survivor benefits, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, and RRSPs.

Grandparents/Relatives

Benefits

Benefits for grandparents and other relatives raising children
Charts that describe the kinds of benefits grandparents or other relatives raising children might get and under what circumstances, and links to other sites that explain how and where to apply for these benefits.

Information for seniors about benefits, services, and planning for the future
Describes and provides links to three new booklets published by the People’s Law School about government benefits and services for seniors.

Spending time with your grandchild/relative

Children's right to time with grandparents
Information for grandparents who want to apply for access to or contact with their grandchild.

Spending time with a child if you're not a guardian: Contact
Describes contact with a child, which is what the BC Family Law Act calls the time that someone who's not a guardian (for example, a non-guardian parent or grandparent) spends with a child.

Step-parents

Step-parents' rights and responsibilities
Information for step-parents who want to apply for guardianship, custody, or access to or contact with their step-children, and about whether they are responsible to pay child support.

Legal help & lawyers

Filling out court forms — Who can help
A list of people and organizations who can help with filling out court forms, explains where these organizations are located, and provides links to more information about them.

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 a meeting with family duty counsel, including a list of which 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 the 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
Information about 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 clients can ask their lawyers.

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.

Legal system & courts

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 orders and interim orders, and touches on how to appeal and change orders and how to make an interim order 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 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 the requirements for sharing information with the other party during the discovery process for family law cases in Supreme Court.

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 new law.

If you started your Supreme Court case before July 1, 2010
Links to all of 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 Relations Act) plus case law, and when each of these might be used in a family law case.

Parenting, custody & access

Parenting apart

Parenting apart
Describes all the legal terms about parenting after separation that were introduced by the BC Family Law Act and explains how they relate to the Divorce Act legal terms.

Best interests of the child
Describes the "best interests of the child," which the law says parents and judges must consider in making decisions about parenting.

Access and contact with a child

Access
Defines access to children and what this means in family law, and sets out some of the different types of access (specified, supervised) that may be arranged by parents and guardians (applies also to grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other relatives).

Spending time with a child if you're not a guardian: Contact
Describes contact with a child, which is what the BC Family Law Act calls the time that someone who's not a guardian (for example, a non-guardian parent or grandparent) spends with a child.

Custody

Custody
Defines custody of children and what this means in family law, and describes some of the different types of custody orders (sole, joint), as well as terms such as split custody and shared custody that describe custody arrangements.

Guardianship

Guardianship: Parenting time and parental responsibilities
Describes guardianship under the Family Law Act, and includes who is a guardian, who can apply to become one, what being a guardian means, what happens when you separate, what you need to put into an agreement about guardianship, and whether guardianship issues can be settled in court.

How can you become a guardian?
Describes who is a child's guardian, who can apply to become a guardian, and how to apply to become a guardian under the new BC Family Law Act requirements. Includes links to the necessary self-help guides and court forms.

What will happen if you die or can't take care of your child?
Describes what will happen if you die without making arrangements for who will look after your child, what you can do about it (appoint a stand-by or testamentary guardian), and how you can record your decisions.

Moving or travelling

Can you move — With or without your child?
Describes what a parent or guardian must do (give notice) before moving to another city with children, and what could happen if the other parent/guardian doesn't agree with the move.

Do you need any legal documents to be able to leave Canada with your child?
Describes what documents you must bring along to prove that you're allowed to take your children out of the country if you travel without the other parent.

Parentage

Who is a parent?
Explains the basics of the new law that defines parentage and includes definitions of birth mother; biological father; birth mother’s partner; sperm, egg, or embryo donor; and surrogacy.

Step-parents

Step-parents' rights and responsibilities
Information for step-parents who want to apply for guardianship, custody, or access to or contact with their step-children, and about whether they're responsible to pay child support.

Getting help

Parenting After Separation courses
Describes the course (a free, three-hour information session for BC parents and other family members, dealing with parenting and support issues) and who can/must attend it.

Parenting coordinators
Describes how professional parenting coordinators can help parents resolve day-to-day conflicts about parenting agreements or orders, where to find parenting coordinators, and how parenting coordinators can get involved.

Staying out of court

Agreements

How to change an agreement
Describes how to change an agreement that was made after separation to deal with issues of parenting, support, and/or property. Includes information on when to file a changed agreement with the court.

Making an agreement after you separate
Describes agreements (often called separation agreements), how to make one, what to do with it once you've made it, how to change or enforce an agreement, and when to get a consent order instead.

Making an agreement when you live together
Information for married or common-law couples about how to make a written agreement (sometimes called a cohabitation or marriage agreement) while you live together.

What happens if an agreement isn't followed?
Describes agreements, sets out when and why you would file an agreement at the court registry, and explains what you can do to ask the court to enforce your agreement or order if the other party refuses to follow it.

Mediation

Making mediation happen in a family law case in Supreme Court
Explains a Supreme Court pilot project started March 29, 2012 to allow either party in a family law proceeding started under either the Family Relations Act or the Divorce Act in that registry to apply for mediation.

Mediation
Describes mediation and mediators, sets out where to find a mediator, provides information about distance mediation and the Supreme Court mediation pilot project, and includes links to a list of available family mediators.

Offers to settle

Making an offer to settle
Explains how to make a formal offer to settle to try to resolve your issues before a trial.

Support — child

Child support
Defines child support; identifies the relevant laws and guidelines; defines undue hardship, special or extraordinary expenses, and the 40 percent principle; sets out income tax implications; outlines the financial information that parties must provide; and touches on arrears.

What the child support guidelines are and how they work
Describes the child support guidelines and how they work and provides links to the federal guidelines and the tables.

When does child support end?
Information about when the responsibility for paying child support ends.

Information for people with family law cases (child support orders) in Kelowna Provincial Court
Describes the Child Support Recalculation Service, which has been in effect in Kelowna since June 1, 2006. The service automatically recalculates child support amounts every year by applying the child support guidelines to updated income information.

Family Maintenance Enforcement Program

How you can get your driver's licence back if the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program takes it away
If you've fallen behind in your support payments and the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program has advised ICBC not to issue or renew your driver's licence, here's what you have to do to get it back.

Support — spousal

Spousal support
Defines spousal support, identifies the relevant laws and guidelines, and explains what kind of financial information spouses have to provide to each other. Also talks about enforcing or changing a spousal support agreement or order.

Family Maintenance Enforcement Program

How you can get your driver's licence back if the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program takes it away
If you've fallen behind in your support payments and the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program has advised ICBC not to issue or renew your driver's licence, here's what you have to do to get it back.