You can ask the court to enforce a parenting agreement or order if the other parent isn't following the agreement or order. For example:
- if they don't show up or aren't available to care for a child as agreed or ordered, or
- if they refuse to let you spend time with the child.
Making court applications can be expensive and time-consuming. Do this only if:
- you can't come to an agreement, AND
- the other parent repeatedly fails to follow an order or agreement; OR
- the other parent's failure to follow an order or agreement caused you and your child extreme inconvenience and cost you money.
If you or the other parent lives outside BC
If you or the other parent lives outside BC, you might not be able to use these guides. Please contact a lawyer for advice and see Interjurisdictional orders: When a case involves more than one province, territory, or country for more information. See Help from a lawyer on the Where to go page for where to find a lawyer.
Work through this guide at your own pace. There's no need to rush.
File the agreement you want to enforce
- A copy of your parenting agreement
If you're applying to enforce an agreement, you must first file it with the court. This is straightforward:
- Make a copy of your signed agreement.
- Take the copy of the agreement to the Family Court registry at the courthouse.
- The registry clerk will check your agreement, stamp it with the court seal, and put it into a file for your case.
You now have an open family law case and can take steps to enforce your agreement.
Fill out the forms
You must fill out a Notice of Motion (Form 16) and an Affidavit (Form 17).
Notice of Motion (Form 16)
- Under What are you asking for in this application? check An order to enforce.
- Below that, select
- the order made, or
- the agreement dated.
- Enter the date of your agreement or order.
At the top of this part of the form is a space to write in the date and time of the hearing. You'll fill this in at Step 3.
As the person filing the Notice of Motion, you're the applicant. The other person is the respondent.
Affidavit (Form 17)
Your affidavit states the facts that support the order you're asking the court to make. This is your evidence. You can give your evidence in person in court instead of filing an affidavit. But your application might go more smoothly if you file an affidavit containing your evidence. Some court registries might require you to file an affidavit.
For more information about what to put into an affidavit or say in court, see:
- Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or bring to court, and
- How do you write an affidavit?
For more information about what kind of order you can ask for, see What happens if the other person doesn't follow an agreement?
Take the affidavit (with the attachments) to a lawyer, notary public, or clerk at the court registry to swear or affirm that the documents have been served. (There's a fee for this.) The lawyer, notary, or clerk will sign the affidavit, and stamp and sign each attachment.
During the period of reduced Provincial Court operations due to COVID-19, you don't need to swear or affirm most affidavits that you're filing.
However, the person who served the documents must swear or affirm an Affidavit of Personal Service (before giving it to you to file) if they won't be attending the hearing.
Paperwork can be tedious and tiring. But you don't have to do it all at once. Remember to take breaks and drink water.
File the documents
- Four complete sets of the documents you've filled out
- A copy of your order or agreement
- A pen
Make copies of the documents
- You'll give the original forms and attachments to the court (called the Court file copy).
The three sets of copies include:
- A set for you (called the Applicant's copy)
- A set for the other person (called the Respondent's copy)
- A set to attach to the Affidavit of Service (Form 13) (called the Proof of service copy — see Step 4)
File the documents and get a date for the hearing
File your completed forms at the registry where you filed your agreement or order. You don't have to pay a fee to file an application in Provincial (Family) Court.
- The registry clerk will keep the original set of the documents for the court file copy. They'll stamp the other three copies and return them to you.
- The registry will give you a date for your court hearing. Write that date on all three copies of the Notice of Motion.
If the registry clerk doesn't accept your documents, find out why and get legal advice.
Serve the documents
- The other person's address for service
- One set of your documents
- Enough time before your hearing to serve the documents
- An Affidavit of Service (Form 13)
You must serve (deliver) one set of documents on the other person at least seven days before the date set for the hearing.
You can serve the documents by delivery. This means you can mail, fax, email, or drop them off to the address for service the other person put on their court documents. This is usually a home or business address and can include a fax number or email address.
To mail the documents
You can serve the documents by mailing them to the other person's address for service. You can send them by regular mail, and you must pay full postage.
Mailed documents are considered to be served 14 days after the day they were mailed. If that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, the documents are considered to be served on the next business day. Don't mail documents if the hearing is less than 14 days away.
To fax the documents
You can serve the document by fax if the other person included a fax number in their address for service.
- Fill in a Fax Cover Page (Form 10). You can either fill this document out online or print it and fill it out by hand (print neatly using dark-coloured ink).
- Fax the cover page and your document to the fax number provided in the other person's address for service.
To email the documents
If the address for service includes an email address, you can email the documents. If the address for service doesn't include an email address, you can't email the documents, even if you know the other person's (or their lawyer's) email address.
If you can serve the document by email:
- Attach the document to a message sent to the email address provided.
- Ask the person to email you back to confirm they received your email and the documents.
- Print the email you sent and any response you receive.
Complete the Affidavit of Service
The Affidavit of Service (Form 13) is on page 7 of the Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1). The form includes instructions for how to fill it out.
- Fill out the Affidavit of Service (Form 13). If you need help, see Where can you get help with filling out court forms?
- Attach a copy of the served documents to the affidavit.
- Mark each attachment as an exhibit and label them Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, etc. (The court won't accept your affidavit If the documents aren't attached and properly marked, and you'll have to have the documents served again.)
- Take the affidavit (with the attachments) to a lawyer, notary public, or clerk at the court registry to swear or affirm that the documents have been served. (There's a fee for this.)
The lawyer, notary, or clerk will sign the affidavit, stamp and sign each attachment, and return all the documents to you.
Keep the completed and sworn Affidavit of Service with your file. It's your evidence that the documents were served on the other person.
Go to the hearing
- To prepare for the hearing
To prepare for your hearing, see:
- What happens if the other person doesn't follow an agreement?
- Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or bring to court
- How do you write an affidavit?
The hearing for an application to enforce a parenting agreement or order will be very similar to a trial, but it might be less formal or follow a different format. See What happens at a Provincial Court family law trial? for more information about trials.
Taking several slow, deep breaths can make you feel less tense.
Get the order
At the end of the hearing, the judge might give a decision right away or might delay giving the decision until a later date.
If the judge doesn't make their decision that day:
- the clerk will give you a date to come back to court and hear the decision, or
- the registry will contact you later to give you a date to come and hear the decision, or
- the judge will write their decision and mail it to you and the other parent.
If you or the other person has a lawyer, one of the lawyers will prepare the order. If neither of you has a lawyer, the registry clerk will prepare the order.
The order is effective as soon as the judge makes it, unless they specify a different date.
You've completed all the steps to apply to enforce a court order or agreement. Good work, and good luck in court.
Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.
That was a lot of work. Whatever you're feeling right now is normal and okay.