Family matters at the Victoria Courthouse

Provincial Court

Beginning May 13, 2019, Victoria Provincial (Family) Court has its own procedures in place including if you want to resolve a family dispute by applying for an order about:

  • parenting arrangements;
  • child support;
  • contact with a child;
  • guardianship of a child; or
  • spousal support.

These procedures don’t apply to child protection cases.

Who has to start their case in Victoria?

You must start your family case in the Victoria Provincial Court Registry (850 Burdett Street) if:

  • you already have a Provincial Court family law case filed in Victoria with the same parties, or
  • there is a child involved and the child lives closest to the Victoria court registry most of the time, or
  • there is no child involved and you live closest to the Victoria court registry most of the time.

The new procedures don’t apply to you if:

  • you filed an application to obtain an order before May 13, 2019, or
  • you filed a notice of motion before May 13, 2019, or
  • your court file is transferred from Victoria to another registry.

Early resolution process

For most cases, the first step will be the early resolution process. You start by completing a form called Notice to Resolve a Family Law Matter (Form A) and taking it to the Victoria Provincial Court registry. There is an online workbook with instructions for how to fill out the form. You can also get a paper copy of the form and workbook from the Justice Access Centre (JAC) or the court registry.

Next you’ll have a meeting at the JAC in Victoria to discuss your issues and find out if mediation is appropriate for you and the other party. You’ll also find out if there are other services in the community that might be helpful to you and your family. The other person will also have a meeting at the JAC. This is called a needs assessment. In most cases, you will both also be required to take a short parent education course. The goal of this Early Resolution Process is to help people work together to find solutions, and only go to court if necessary. The staff at the JAC will guide you through this early resolution process.

What if I don’t resolve my issues in the early resolution process?

If you don’t resolve all your issues in the early resolution process, you can make your application to court. To do this, you complete and file a Family Law Matter Claim (Form C). There is an online workbook with detailed instructions about how to fill out the form and organize your next step. You can also get a paper copy of the form and workbook from the court registry. People who do go on to court will benefit from being able to go straight to an informal meeting with a judge (called a Family Management Conference) to discuss and possibly resolve their issues, or prepare for next steps.

What if my matter is urgent, time sensitive, or we agree?

Some family matters are time-sensitive. As of May 13, 2019, in Victoria, you can go directly to court (see below) for the following issues:

  • Protection orders
  • Extraordinary parenting orders
  • Relocation
  • Consent orders
  • Enforcement

If you have another type of case that is urgent or time sensitive, you can use the workbook to complete Application for Case Management Order Without Notice or Appearance (Form I) and ask to be exempted from the early resolution process.

There are also special procedures in Victoria for applying for orders about things that affect how your case is going (called Case Management orders) once you are in the court process. See below.

When you can go directly to court

You can apply immediately to the court, without going through the early resolution process, for orders about the following issues.

Protection orders

You can apply to get, change, or end a protection order by completing one of the two forms below and providing any supporting evidence or documents:

  • If you need a protection order, or an order about a protection order, and you are serving notice on the other party, use the workbook to complete Application about a Protection Order (Form K).
  • If you need a protection order and you aren’t serving notice on the other party, use the workbooks to complete Application about a Protection Order (Form K) and Application for Case Management Order Without Notice or Appearance (Form I).

The process requires seven days notice to the other party, but it can be less, or even without notice.

Extraordinary parenting matters

There can be “extraordinary parenting matters” where you may need quick access to a judge. At any time, you can request an order related to:

  • a guardian giving consent to medical dental or other health-related treatment for a child, if a delay would risk the health of the child;
  • a guardian applying for a passport, licence, permit, benefit, privilege, or other thing for the child, if a delay would risk harming the child’s physical, psychological, or emotional safety or well-being;
  • preventing the removal of a child (under section 64) or the wrongful removal of a child (under section 77(2));
  • resolving an interjurisdictional issue about the care of or time with a child (under section 74(2)(c) of the FLA); or
  • seeking an” extraordinary remedy” (under section 231(4) or (5) of the FLA).

The process requires seven days notice to the other party, but it can be less, or even without notice. If you are giving seven days notice, use the workbook to complete Application about Extraordinary Parenting Matter (Form M). If you are giving less or no notice, use the workbooks to complete Application about Extraordinary Parenting Matter (Form M) and Application for Case Management Order Without Notice or Appearance (Form I).

Relocation

If you need to apply for an order prohibiting the relocation of a child (under section 69 of the FLA), use the workbook to complete Application for Order Prohibiting the Relocation of Child (Form O).

After you file your application at the registry, you must serve a copy of Form O, a copy of your existing order or agreement, and the notice of relocation described in section 66 ([notice of relocation] of the Family Law Act) on the other party.

Consent orders

You can request a consent order (when both parties agree) at any time, including whenever you are before a judge.

The process for applying for a consent order generally requires only providing:

  • Application for a Family Law Matter Consent Order (Form N),
  • the draft consent order Consent Order (Form 20), and
  • additional related documents if needed.

There is a workbook available for the Family Law Matter Consent Order form.

The judge may give you directions to get further information, require you to speak to the matter, change the draft consent order and require you to review and sign the changes, or reject the application with reasons.

Enforcement

There are a number of reasons when you may need to ask the court for an order about enforcement. For example:

  • to enforce a written agreement or order, including one made under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act;
  • to enforce or change a decision of a parenting coordinator;
  • to establish expenses one party paid out due to behaviour of the other party, such as denial of parenting time or contact; or
  • to decide if payments are owing under a support order.

Use the workbook to complete Application for Enforcement (Form P) to apply for any order about enforcement.

Case management orders

Case management orders are orders that you can ask a judge to make to help move your court process along or to address some specific concern. To ask for an order about managing your case, you need to complete one of the forms below. Each form has a workbook with instructions.

Use Application for a Case Management Order (Form H) (with notice to all parties) to:

  • apply for a case management order without appearing in court (when both parties consent), or
  • request a court appearance to apply to the court for a case management order (with or without consent).

The following orders need Form H:

  • transferring the court file to another registry for one or more purposes;
  • adding or removing a party to the case;
  • settling or correcting the terms of an order made under these rules;
  • settling or correcting the terms of an order made under these rules;
  • setting a specified period of time for the filing and exchanging of information, including a Financial Statement (Form D));
  • correcting or amending a filed document, including the correction of a name or date of birth;
  • correcting or amending a filed document, including the correction of a name or date of birth;
  • requiring that information be disclosed by a third party;
  • adjourning a hearing or trial;
  • requiring that a person who prepared a report under section 211 ([orders respecting reports] of the Family Law Act) attend a trial;
  • issues concerning the conduct and management of a trial; and
  • changing, suspending, or cancelling an order made in the absence of one party.

Use Application for Case Management Order Without Notice or Appearance (Form I) to apply for orders, without notice to every party and without an appearance in court, that involve:

  • allowing a person to attend a hearing or conference using electronic communication;
  • shortening or extending a time limit;
  • allowing, waiving or modifying any service, delivery, or notice requirement;
  • requiring access to information related to section 242 ([orders respecting searchable information] of the Family Law Act);
  • allowing alternate means of proof;
  • waiving or changing parts of the early resolution process;
  • recognizing an extra-provincial order other than a support order; and
  • allowing a party to not meet some requirement.