Court orders can be final or interim.
A final order is usually made after a trial. But it can take a long time to get one. Many people apply in Provincial Court or Supreme Court for interim orders while they wait for their final order.
An final order is a record of the judge's final decision that's meant to apply to both spouses in a family law case. When it's made, it's usually meant to last indefinitely.
A court can make final family orders for all sorts of family law issues, including:
- child support
- spousal support
- the division of property and debt
A court can make a final order:
- at the end of a trial (even a summary trial)
- when both spouses agree to an order (called a consent order)
- when the spouses apply for an undefended divorce
Before the court makes a final order
Before the court makes a final order, there are a few things you can do to try to make things easier for everyone and maybe even make the process go faster:
- Get legal advice. A lawyer can help you understand:
- your rights and responsibilities
- what outcomes are realistic to expect in your case
- what processes there are to help you solve your family law problems
- Give the right information to everyone who needs it. The law says that you and your spouse have to give each other "full and true information" so you can solve your family law issue, even if you're not going to court.
- If you are going to court, you'll be told what information you need to give. Usually, a judge or master will make sure everyone has the information they need before a trial.
- If you refuse to give information, you might face a penalty.
- If it turns out after an order's made that you didn't give all the information you were required to give, you might not get the outcome you want or, if the information is discovered later, the order can be overturned (cancelled).
- Meet with a child support officer. The court might send you to see a child support officer to help you figure out how much child support should be paid in your case. You can see one even if you're not told to.
- Meet with a family justice counsellor. Some Provincial Courts say you have to meet with a family justice counsellor before you go to court. You can see one even if you don't have to. Family justice counsellors are certified mediators who can talk about different options with you, refer you to other services, and give you legal information (but they can't give you legal advice).
- Go to a Parenting After Separation class. Most Provincial Courts say you have to go to a Parenting After Separation class. You can do the class online in English, Chinese, or Punjabi if you prefer. Even if you don't have to go (for example, if your case is in Supreme Court), you might find the class helpful anyway. It's a three-hour workshop to:
- help parents deal with separation and any conflict with each other, and
- make sure that they remember their children's best interests are the most important thing to think about when they're making decisions.
- Meet with a judge or master. If you want to get an order that your spouse doesn't agree with, you usually have to meet with a judge before you can have a court hearing.
In Supreme Court, you need a Judicial Case Conference before you can apply for most types of orders.
In Provincial Court, judges often order a Family Case Conference before they hear an application for an order.
You can also apply for a judicial or family case conference at any time before your hearing.
The judge or master will look at different ways to solve your family law issue. They might:
- tell you to go to mediation or to other services,
- help you prepare your case for a court hearing (for example, they might give you a list of information you must give), or
- make an order that you and your spouse both agree to (including interim and even final orders).
How do you apply for a final order?
To find out how to apply for a final order, see:
- Get a final family order in Provincial Court if you both agree, or
- Get a final family order in Provincial Court if you can't both agree.
Can you change a final order?
If you want to have your final order changed and you know for sure that you and your spouse won't agree about it, you have to ask the court if it can be changed.
The court will only let you make certain changes.
They use a set of tests to decide if an order should be changed. See When can you change a final order? for the set of charts that show you the tests the court uses. Look at the charts before you spend time and money on a court application.
If you do apply to change a final order, usually you apply to the court that made the original one. For more about how to do this, see:
- Change a family order in Supreme Court if you both agree, or
- Change an order if you and your spouse can't agree.
Can you appeal a final order?
If you're not happy with the final court order, you might decide to appeal. See Can you appeal an order? for more about this.
These are orders put in place for a short time while you work on longer-term solutions.
They usually last until you and your spouse come to an agreement or go to trial. That might be six months or it might be six years or more.
Interim family orders deal with the same issues that final family orders do. For example:
- parental responsibilities
- parenting time
Interim orders also deal with procedural matters (things that have to be done by a certain time or in a certain way). For example, the court might order that your spouse has to give you financial information by a certain date.
You can apply to change an interim order if you're not happy with it.
How do you apply for an interim order?
If want to apply for an interim order in Provincial Court, see:
- Get an interim family order in Provincial Court if you both agree, or
- Get an interim family order in Provincial Court if you can't both agree.
If you're applying for an interim order in Supreme Court, the application for an interim order might be called a Chambers application.
To find out more about applying for interim orders in Supreme Court, see:
- Get an interim family order in Supreme Court if you both agree, or
- Get an interim family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree, and
- What happens in a Supreme Court Chambers hearing?
If you and your spouse can't agree about what the interim order should say, you'll have to go to a Judicial Case Conference (JCC) before you can apply for it.
If the two of you can agree about things during a JCC, the judge can make an interim order and you won't have to apply for one.
Can you make an interim order a final order?
Your final order can be the same as your interim order or it can be different.
If you have an interim order, and you and your spouse agree about what's in it, you can ask the judge to make that order final.
When you make an agreement in this way, the order's called a consent order.
Can you change an interim order?
If you're unhappy with an interim order, you can try to:
- sort something out with your spouse, or
- get a trial as quickly as possible.
But you can apply to the court to change the interim order if:
- you can't sort something out, or
- you can't wait for a trial.
The court won't just change an interim order because you don't like what it says.
It will only think about changing an interim order if:
- things have changed for you or your spouse since the order was made (for example, your spouse has a new job that pays more money), or
- you or your spouse has important evidence that wasn't available when the interim order was made.
The court also has to think about a few other things. For example:
- How long have you had the order?
- Is the interim order only meant to be a short-term solution that won't affect the final order?
- Is a trial scheduled?
- If the order isn't changed, will you, your spouse, or children suffer?
If you're thinking about trying to change an interim order, get legal advice first.
For information on how to change an order, see:
Can you appeal an interim order?
If you want to dispute (argue against) an interim court order, you can appeal it.