Can you change a support order made outside BC?

Cases where you and the other person don't live in the same province, territory, or country are called interjurisdictional. That means that more than one legal system or set of laws is involved.

BC has agreements about enforcing and changing support orders and agreements with:

  • all other Canadian provinces and territories
  • all of the United States
  • several other foreign countries

These places are called reciprocating jurisdictions. They agree to collect family support orders and agreements made in other reciprocating jurisdictions.

If you have a support order that was made outside of BC, you might be able to get it changed if it was made in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

See Interjurisdictional Support Orders (ISO) on the Ministry of Attorney General’s website for a full list of countries that have reciprocal agreements with BC.

You also need to know which law your order was made under:

Usually support orders say which act they're made under. If your support order doesn't say this, you can figure it out. See Interjurisdictional orders: When a case involves more than one province, territory, or country for some tips on this.

Expand the heading that fits your situation to find out how to change your support order.

Apply to a BC court

Supreme Court

You can apply for an order in BC Supreme Court to change the support order. You ask the court to take jurisdiction over the case (that means it can make a decision about your case). Start your case by filing and serving a Petition to the Court (Form F73) and an Affidavit (Form F30) in BC Supreme Court. In your affidavit, list the reasons it makes sense for the court to hear your application (for example, you and the other person both live in BC). See Supreme Court Rule 17-1 for more about this.

Provincial Court

You can apply to change the order in Provincial Court if the original order was made in a provincial court outside BC. Ask the Provincial Court of BC to take jurisdiction by filing an Application Respecting an Existing Order or Agreement (Form 2) and a Notice of Motion (Form 16). Use our step-by-step guide Start a family law case to get a new order to help you.

You have three options.

Option 1: Use the Interjurisdictional Support Order Act

You can use an Interjurisdictional Support Order (ISO) package to ask for a change to your support order if:

  • you live in BC and want to apply to change a Canadian support order made under provincial or territorial law, and
  • the other person lives in another part of Canada.

If the order was made outside Canada in a reciprocating jurisdiction, you can also apply under ISO, and the BC court might hold a provisional hearing, depending on where the other person (the respondent) lives. You don’t have to give notice to (tell) the other person to have this hearing but the order the court issues is "provisional." This means the order can only be made final after the other person has had the chance to go to the court where they live.

You might need legal help to fill in the ISO forms.

See Interjurisdictional Support Orders on the Family Justice page of the Ministry of the Attorney General website for more information about this. A family justice counsellor might be able to help you.

You can also write to:

Interjurisdictional Support Services
Vancouver Main Office Boxes
PO Box 2074
Vancouver BC V6B 3S3

Option 2: Apply for a final order where the other person lives

Apply to change the support order in the province, territory, or country where the other person lives.

Contact the court in that place to find out how to make the application.

Option 3: Apply for a final order in BC Supreme Court or BC Provincial Court

If your support order was made in a superior court, you can apply to change the support order in BC Supreme Court. To do this, file a Notice of Application (Form F31).

If the other person accepts the court's jurisdiction (agrees that it can take legal responsibility for your case) by responding, the application can be heard in BC Supreme Court.

If the other person doesn't accept the court's jurisdiction, you can:

  • ask the court to decide if the issue can be sorted out in BC, or
  • choose from the other two options listed here.

If the support order was made in a superior court in another Canadian province or in a reciprocating jurisdiction, file a Petition to the Court (Form F73).

If the order was made in a provincial court, file an Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements (Form 2). See Start a family law case to change an order in Provincial Court.

To find out how to serve court documents outside BC, see Serve court documents outside BC.

You'll also have to make a proper financial disclosure.

You have three options.

Option 1: Apply for a final order in BC Supreme Court

Apply to change the support order in BC Supreme Court by filing a Notice of Application (Form F31).

If the other person accepts the court's jurisdiction (agrees that it can take legal responsibility for your case) by responding, the application can be heard in BC Supreme Court. See Change a family order in Supreme Court if you both agree and Change a family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree for how to do this.

If the other person doesn't accept the court's jurisdiction, you can

  • ask the court to decide if the issue can be addressed in BC, or
  • choose from the other two options listed here.

Option 2: Apply for a final order where the other person lives

Apply to change the support order in the province, territory, or country where the other person lives.

Contact the court in that place to find out how to make the application.

Option 3: Apply for a provisional order in BC Supreme Court

You can use the provisional and confirmation process under sections 18 and 19 of the Divorce Act.

The person who lives in BC applies to the Supreme Court of BC, but doesn't need to give notice of the application to the respondent. The BC Supreme Court will have a provisional hearing and might make an order to change the support order. But the order has to be confirmed in the jurisdiction where the respondent lives.

The court and a government agency (called the reciprocals office) will send the application to the court where the other person (the respondent) lives for a confirmation hearing. The court in the other jurisdiction tells the other person the date for the hearing. A judge will decide whether support should be changed. The court will tell you what the decision was and give reasons for it.

You apply for a provisional order by filing a Petition to the Court (Form F73).

One of you lives in BC and the other lives in a country that's not a reciprocating jurisdiction.

If one person lives in BC and the other lives in another country that's NOT a reciprocating jurisdiction, get legal help. These cases are complicated. See Tips about getting legal help for where to find a lawyer. The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) might be able to help.

Can you appear by phone or video if the court is far away?

Only the respondent has to appear in court.

If you or the other person live far from the court where the hearing will be, ask:

  • if you can appear by phone or video, or
  • if the court would transfer your file to a court in BC that's easier for you to get to.

To ask about appearing by phone or video in Supreme Court:

Include a signed letter that explains why you want to attend by phone or video.

The registry will pass it to a judge who'll decide if you can attend by video or phone. Contact the court registry to find out if your request has been approved. If the judge agrees, the registry will tell you what to do next.

To ask about appearing by phone or video in Provincial Court, fill out a Request to Be Heard by Teleconference at the court registry. Include a signed letter that explains why you want to attend by phone or video.

The registry will pass it to a judge who'll decide if you can attend by video or phone. Contact the court registry to find out if your request has been approved. If the judge agrees, the registry will tell you what to do next.