Going to trial to get a final order from a judge can take a long time and can be very expensive. But if you and the other person can agree about how to settle your issues, you can get final orders without going through a trial and, sometimes, without even going to court or starting a court action. You have three options for getting a final order:
File an agreement at the court registry
At any time, if you and the other person agree on how to deal with parenting and support arrangements, you can:
- write down your agreement and
- file a signed copy of this agreement at your local Provincial (Family) Court.
Once you file the agreement, it can be enforced as if it were a court order. See Making an agreement after you separate and Who can help you reach an agreement? for more information about how to do this.
File your agreement at the court registry. You might find it convenient to file it at the registry closest to where the children normally live or, if there are no children, to where you live. See BC Provincial Court Locations and Hours for a map and list of BC Provincial Court addresses.
Ask a Provincial Court judge for a consent order at any stage of the court process
You can ask the judge to make an order that you both agree to after you've already started a court case in Provincial Court by filing an Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1) and the other person has responded by filing a Reply (Form 3). You can ask the judge for the consent order:
- at the first appearance that the court clerk arranges for,
- at any other time you appear in court, or
- at a Family Case Conference.
If you haven't started a case yet, you need to file an Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1). For step-by-step instructions about how to complete, serve, and file this document, see Start a family law case to get a new order in Provincial Court. Then see Get a final family order in Provincial Court if you can't both agree for information about the first appearance and the family case conference. You can ask the judge to make a consent order at either of these stages.
Apply for a consent order (desk order)
You can apply for a consent order at any time after your Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1) and Reply (Form 3) have been filed. To make this application, you must complete and file three forms:
- a Request (Form 18),
- a Consent (Form 19), and
- a Consent Order (Form 20).
In these forms, you tell the court what you and the other person have agreed to and, if the judge agrees, he or she will sign the order. The judge will not "rubber stamp" whatever you agree to. He or she must be satisfied that the order is in the children's best interests.
If you have already completed and filed an Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1) and Reply (Form 3) and want to apply for a consent order, go to Step 1.
Do you have to go to court?
If you and the other person agree on what you want in your family order, then you may not have to go to court. It's often possible to agree on the terms of an order, especially for child support. This is partly because the child support guidelines clearly set out the amount of support that must be paid.
The procedure for getting a family order when both parties agree is easier and less stressful than preparing for a hearing if you don't agree. It usually doesn't require you go to court. However, consider getting legal advice about your specific situation before committing to an order in a family case.
What the law says about parenting, support, and property
For more information, see:
- Contact: Spending time with a child if you're not a guardian
- Guardianship: Parenting time and parental responsibilities
- Parenting apart
Get legal help
It's a good idea to get some legal help before you use this guide. If you can't afford a lawyer, you can get legal help in other ways, including:
- Lawyer Referral Service
- free (pro bono) legal clinics
- family duty counsel
- family advice lawyers
- family justice counsellors
Staff at Justice Access Centres in Nanaimo, Surrey, Vancouver, and Victoria can also answer your questions and help you fill out forms.
For information about legal aid, see the Legal Aid BC website.
Fill out several forms
- a Request (Form 18),
- a Consent (Form 19),
- a draft Consent Order (Form 20) containing the details of the order you want, and
- affidavits to support the order.
Complete a Request, a Consent, a draft Consent Order, and affidavits to support the order. You can do this at any time after
- you've filed your Application to Obtain an Order and the required financial information,
- and the other person has filed a Reply and their financial information.
f you need help with these forms, see Where can you get help with filling out court forms?.
See Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or bring to court and How do you write an affidavit? if you aren't sure what to put into your affidavit.
Make copies of the documents
Make three complete sets of the forms you prepared in Step 1.
Keep all the original forms (with any attachments) as one set. This will be the set that you give to the registry (the Court file copy). Then make two sets of photocopies:
- A set for you (the Applicant’s copy)
- A set for the other person (the Respondent’s copy)
File the documents
- all three sets of copies of your completed documents
Take the completed forms (and the copies you made of them) to the Family Court Registry.
Give the documents to the registry clerk. (If the registry clerk won't accept your documents, find out why and get some legal advice.)
The registry clerk will keep one set of the documents for the court file copy, and will stamp the other copies and return them to you.
Wait for the judge’s response
A judge will review your filed documents. You must provide enough information to the judge to support your request, especially if parenting and support are involved.
The judge may approve and sign your order if they are satisfied that your order is appropriate and that you and the other person agree.
If the judge isn't satisfied or needs more information, registry staff will contact you to tell you that you have to appear before a judge and ask for the order (see Step 5).
Appear at the registry if needed
If the judge wants more information or has concerns about the arrangements you've agreed to, one or both of you may be asked to appear before the judge to explain your application.
If this happens, bring along copies of all your completed forms and financial records so you can explain your application.
Receive the consent order
If the judge finds your application all in order, they will sign the order. Registry staff will send you a certified copy of the consent order.
The order is effective as soon as the judge makes it, unless the judge specifies a different date.
You've now gone through all the steps required to get a final family order in Provincial Court.
Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.