Get an interim family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree

Introduction

About this guide

This step-by-step guide is for people who:

  • want to get an interim family order in the Supreme Court of BC, and
  • can't agree with the other person about what the order should say. This includes parenting orders, orders for child or spousal support, and orders about property.

The process to apply for an interim order is quite complex. Read through all the instructions before you begin so you understand the information you need to collect, the documents and forms you need to prepare, the time periods you have to work with, and what you can expect in court. Once you're familiar with the instructions, fill out the forms you need.

What if you don't succeed?

If your application is unsuccessful, costs might be awarded against you. This means you'll have to pay some of the other person's court costs and legal expenses, as well as your own.

How long will the process take?

There's no set answer to this question. It depends on your answers to the following questions:

  • Have you already filed the Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) and received a response?
  • Will your hearing take more than two hours? If so, you'll have to wait longer to get court time.
  • Is your case urgent?
  • Where do you live? Some registries are busier than others.

Before you begin your Supreme Court application

Before you can apply for an interim order, you must have:

  1. filed or responded to a Notice of Family Claim (Form F3), and
  2. attended a Judicial Case Conference (JCC).

The person who files a Notice of Family Claim (and Financial Statement [Form F8], if required) is starting a family law case. The other person can respond to the Notice of Family Claim by filing and serving a Response to Family Claim (Form F4) and serving a Financial Statement (Form F8). The other person might also file and serve a Counterclaim (Form F5) to start their own claim for child or spousal support or for parenting orders. Or they might not respond to the Notice of Family Claim at all. But if they don't respond, the court can then make orders against them.

See Start a family law case to get a new order in Supreme Court for a step-by-step guide to starting a family law case.

In most cases, before you can apply for an interim order, you and the other person must attend a JCC. There are some cases where you don't have to attend, and there are some cases where you can ask to be exempted.

For more information on how to schedule and prepare for a JCC, see Request a Judicial Case Conference.

If you and the other party still can't agree on how to resolve your conflict after you've attended a JCC, you can still go to Step 1.

Prepare the documents

You'll need

  • A Notice of Application (Form F31) (PDF) (Word) to apply for an interim order
  • An Affidavit (Form F30) (PDF) (Word) to support the application
  • A Financial Statement (Form F8), if applicable and not already completed

Fill out the forms and complete the documents

Notice of Application (Form F31)

The Notice of Application has a space where you'll write the time of the hearing. You'll have to contact the court registry to find out when your application can be heard.

The registry will want to know how long your hearing will take:

  • If your case involves more than one issue and/or there are a lot of facts that you and the other person don't agree on, it will probably take more than two hours.
  • If a single issue is involved, you only disagree about a few straightforward facts, and there isn't a lot of evidence in the affidavits, it will probably take less than two hours.

If you aren't sure, ask the registry.

If the hearing will be two hours or less, your application will be heard by a judge during regular family Chambers. This is when all the shorter applications are heard. If it's going to be longer than two hours, it will likely be set at a later time.

For information about what to put into the Notice of Application, see Write a Supreme Court order.

Affidavit (Form F30)

For help writing the Affidavit, see:

Financial Statement (Form F8)

For help filling out a Financial Statement (if you're applying to change an order for child or spousal support), see Complete a Supreme Court Financial Statement (Form F8).

The forms contain technical instructions to help you fill them out. For more help using the forms, see:

Swear or affirm the documents

You'll need

  • Your completed Affidavit (Form F30) and relevant documents
  • your completed Financial Statement (Form F8)
You must swear or affirm that the information that appears in these documents is true. Any exhibits to your Affidavit must also be stamped and sworn.

You have to do this in front of a:

  • lawyer,
  • notary public,
  • government agent, or
  • clerk at the court registry.

Bring picture identification with you.

Some people charge a lot more than others for this service. It's a good idea to shop around.

If you plan to swear the documents at the court registry, call them first to ask how much they charge for swearing an affidavit. See Who can swear an affidavit? for more information.

Copy, file, and serve the documents

You'll need

  • Your completed documents:
    • Notice of Application (Form F31)
    • Affidavit (Form F30) to support the application (with any attachments)
    • Any other supporting affidavits or documents that you intend to refer to at the hearing, but that haven't already been filed
  • $80 to file a Notice of Application
  • An Affidavit of Ordinary Service (Form F16) (PDF) (Word)

Make copies

Make three copies of all your documents:

  • One copy is for the registry
  • One copy is for you
  • One copy is served on the other person

Keep the originals somewhere safe.

File the documents at the Supreme Court registry

Take all the copies of your documents, plus the filing fee, to the registry. You'll need the filed Notice of Application to serve on the other person.

Serve the documents on the other person

Serve the documents on the other person, including the filed Notice of Application, at least eight full business days before the date set for the hearing. (This means that eight full business days must pass in between the day you serve the documents on the other person and the hearing day.)

You can serve these documents by ordinary service. This means that you can:

  • leave the documents at the other person's address for service (the address they put on their court documents, such as their Notice of Application),
  • mail the documents by regular post to the other person's address for service, or
  • email or fax the documents, if the other person provided an email address or fax number as part of their address for service.

See Serve Supreme Court documents by ordinary service for more information on serving documents and help with filling out an Affidavit of Ordinary Service (Form F16).

If the other person doesn't attend the hearing, the Affidavit of Ordinary Service will prove to the judge that you served the documents in time.

Wait and respond

You'll need

  • To wait up to five business days to receive the other person's response
  • A responding Affidavit (Form F30) (PDF) (Word), if the other person raised new facts or issues in their response

The other person has five business days from the time they were served with your Notice of Application (Form F31) and other documents to oppose or respond to the application. They do this by filing documents at the court registry and serving them on you.

If they agree with your application

If the other person agrees with what you're asking for, you have a few options. You can both show up in court on the date set for the hearing and ask for a consent order. Or you can go to our step-by-step guide Get an interim family order in Supreme Court if you both agree, which is simpler and might not involve going to court. You can work out a written agreement with the other person that can be filed in court.

If they still don't agree with your application

If the other person doesn't agree with what you're asking for, within five business days of being served with your documents, they must file the following forms at the court registry and serve you with them:

  • an Application Response (Form F32), and
  • each Affidavit (Form F30) and any other document they refer to in their Application Response that hasn't already been filed.

Prepare and file a responding Affidavit (Form F30), if necessary

If the other person has raised new facts or issues in their Affidavit that you'd like to address, you can file a responding Affidavit. If you don't need to file a responding Affidavit, you can go straight to Step 5.

In your responding Affidavit (Form F30) (PDF) (Word), respond only to those new issues or facts that you haven't already addressed in your earlier Affidavit to support the application. Your responding Affidavit must contain:

  • a description of who you are, and
  • your response to the new facts or issues raised in the other person's Affidavit.

You must file your responding Affidavit with the registry and serve it on the other person no later than 4 pm on the business day that's one full business day before the hearing date. (This means that one full business day must pass in between the day you file the documents and the hearing day.)

For help writing the Affidavit, see:

The Affidavit contains technical instructions to help you fill it out. For more help, see:

Make an Application Record

You'll need

  • Two ring binders big enough to hold all the documents related to your case (1‑inch or 1.5‑inch are common)
  • Two sets of tabbed binder dividers numbered 1 to 15 or higher (depending on how many documents you're including)
  • Some loose-leaf paper
  • A three-hole punch
  • A Supreme Court cover page (PDF) (Word)
  • An Application Record index (PDF) (Word)
  • A sample completed Application Record index (PDF), if you want to see what one looks like
  • Two elastic bands big enough to go around the binders

An Application Record is a loose-leaf ring binder, divided by tabs, that contains the evidence that the judge or master will use to decide whether to give you the order you're asking for. It includes a table of contents (called an index). The Application Record contains photocopies of the documents you've collected, including those sent by the other person.

You need two copies of the Application Record — one for you and one for the court. The court copy will be returned to you at the end of the court hearing. You don't have to make a copy for the other person.

What goes in an Application Record

The Application Record can include draft orders, written arguments, lists of authorities (any case, textbook, article, or statute you might use to support your argument), or a draft bill of costs.

Your Application Record must not include Affidavits of Service, copies of authorities, or other documents unless the other person has agreed to let you include these.

Make a cover page

Prepare a cover page (PDF) (Word) for the outside of the binder that contains:

  • the style of proceedings (names of both of you), court file number, and registry,
  • the title "APPLICATION RECORD" and a brief description of what the material is about (for example, "Application for an interim order for child support"),
  • contact information for each of you or your lawyers, including addresses for service, phone and fax numbers, or email addresses that the registry can use to contact you,
  • the time, date, and place of the hearing,
  • the name of the person or lawyer who's filing the Application Record, and
  • the estimated length of time for the hearing.

Make a title page

Prepare a title page for the inside of the binder. The title page should have the style of cause, your name and the other person's name, and the name(s) of your lawyer(s), if you have any. Look at your Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) to find the style of cause. It's all the information above the title of the document. Copy this information exactly as it appears on your order.

Add the dividers and documents

  • Number your tabbed divider pages consecutively starting at 1, if they aren't already numbered.
  • Punch holes in each page of your remaining set of photocopied documents, and put them into the binder behind the numbered tabs in the following order:
    • Behind Tab 1, insert two copies of your filed Notice of Application (Form F31). Secure one copy in the binder, but leave the other copy loose. On the loose copy, highlight or mark in some way which orders you'll be referring to at the hearing.
    • Behind Tab 2, insert the Application Response (Form F32) from the other person (if you receive one).
  • Insert the remaining documents behind tabs in this order:
    • Your Affidavit to support the application.
    • Any of your previous Affidavits that you want the court to consider.
    • An Affidavit in response to the application from the other person, if you receive one.
    • Your responding Affidavit, if any.
    • Your most recent Financial Statement (Form F8) and any attachments.
    • The other person's most recent Financial Statement (Form F8) and any attachments, if you received them.
    • Any of the other person's Affidavits.
    • Any of the other person's other Financial Statements.

Make an Application Record index

Download a blank Application Record index (PDF) (Word) form and use it to make a table of contents for the Application Record. (Refer to the sample index page (PDF) if you like.)

List all the documents in the Application Record in the table of contents. Put this completed index after the title page, but before Tab 1.

Make a second Application Record

Repeat the whole process to create a second Application Record. One copy's for the court, and the other's for you.

File the Application Record

You'll need

  • One copy of the complete Application Record
  • One copy of the Application Record index only

Give an Application Record to the court registry

Give one copy of the full Application Record to the court registry.

The court registry has only limited space for storing hearing materials, so you must file your application record:

  • after 9 am on the business day that's three full business days before your hearing, and
  • aefore 4 pm on the day that's one full business day before the date set for the hearing.

Serve the Application Record index on the other person

If the other person responded to your Notice of Application, serve them a copy of the Application Record index. You can serve the index by ordinary service.

You must serve the index no later than 4 pm on the day that's one full business day before the date set for the hearing in your Notice of Application (Form F31). (This means that one full business day must pass in between serving the index and the hearing day.)

Appear in court

You'll need

  • Your copy of the Application Record
  • An Order Made After Application (Form F51) (PDF) (Word)

Go to court

You'll be appearing in Chambers to ask a judge or master to make the orders you want. See What happens in a Supreme Court Chambers hearing? to find out more about this.

Prepare the Order Made After Application (Form F51)

After you appear in court, you have to prepare an Order Made After Application (Form F51) that says what the judge or master decided. If you or the other person has a lawyer, the lawyer's usually required by the court to prepare the interim order even if they're not your lawyer. If this happens, ask to have an opportunity to review and sign the interim order as written by the lawyer before it's given to the court registry. You and the other person (or their lawyer) must both sign the interim order unless the other person didn't appear at the hearing.

The Order Made After Application contains technical instructions to help you fill it out. For more information about preparing orders, see:

File the order

You'll need

  • A copy of the completed and signed Order Made After Application (Form F51)

Make a copy of the completed and signed order and take it to the court registry where the hearing was held. At this point, the order is usually called a draft order.

The court registry staff will review the order, then have it signed by the court, stamped, and entered or filed. Keep a copy of this draft order for your records until you get the entered Order Made After Application (Form F51).

Entering the order can take several weeks. Ask the court registry clerk when you might be able to pick up the entered order.

Send copies of the order

You'll need

  • The approved order
  • A copy of the order for the other person
  • A copy of the order for FMEP, if necessary

Pick up the approved order

You must either go to the court registry to pick up your order or provide a self-addressed envelope and ask the clerk to mail it to you. The entered (signed, sealed, and filed) order is your official court order. Be sure to keep a copy of the order for yourself.

Give a copy to the other person

You're responsible for mailing, giving, or emailing a copy of the entered order to the other person. Do this as soon as possible.

If support is included in the order, you might want to register your order with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP). FMEP's a provincial government service that helps people get the maintenance payments they're entitled to.

Learn more about how the program works on the BC government website, or find out how to contact FMEP on their website.

You've now gone through all the steps required to get an interim family order in Supreme Court. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.