Tips for writing Provincial Court orders

Provincial Court

A court order is the record of a judge's decision. It sets out what you and the other person (the law calls them the other party) have to do or not do.

If you and the other person agree about what you want the court to order:

  • you can apply for a consent order, and
  • draft (write) the order yourself.

If a judge approves the order:

  • they'll sign the order you drafted and,
  • you won't have to go to a court hearing.

If you and the other person don't agree, the judge will make an order after a hearing. Usually someone else will write an order made after a hearing for you.

How do you write a consent order?

Fill in a Consent Order (Form 20) form that explains the order you want the court to make. You can fill it in online and print it.

The Provincial Court of BC website has a picklist of approved standard terms (words and terms that are used in court) for family law orders. Use these standard terms when you write your consent order. That way, you don't need to worry about how to word the order.

The list is organized by topic (for example, guardianship, parenting time, child support). The topics are all written in upper-case letters.

Go to the topic that applies to you, choose the order that best describes your situation, and copy and paste it into your form. You can use the exact wording, or change it slightly to fit your situation if you need to. There's a lot of information in the picklist, so take your time.

See our step-by-step guide Get a final family order in Provincial Court if you both agree to find out more about how to apply for a consent order.

If you're starting a family law case, you can also use the picklist for your Application to Obtain an Order. Or if you’re asking the court to change an order or agreement, you can use it for your Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements. It helps the judge see exactly what you want if you use the picklist.

Orders not made by consent (contested orders)

If you and the other person don't agree and have go to court, a judge will make the order. This is called a contested order.

Who writes a court order after a court hearing?

The judge makes the order after the hearing. But they don't write it. If the person who wins the case has a lawyer, their lawyer will write it. If the person who wins doesn't have a lawyer, the court clerk will write it. If you don't have a lawyer, the court usually won't ask you to write the court order.

What happens after the order's written?

If a lawyer writes the order, that lawyer and the lawyers for any other people involved in the case all have to sign it.

If you don't have a lawyer, you don't have to sign the order unless the court tells you to.

The lawyer who wrote the order sends the signed order to the court registry. The judge will sign the order and the court registry staff will stamp and file it. The registry will send a copy of the filed order to all the people involved in the case (or their lawyers).

If the court clerk wrote the order, they'll give it to the judge to sign. Once the judge has signed the order, it'll be filed in the court registry. The clerk will send a copy to all the people involved in the case (or their lawyers).

What if you think the order isn't right?

You want the order to say what you heard the judge say. The best way to check this is to insist that you get to sign the order, no matter who wrote it, so you can read it.

If you don't agree with what's in the order, go to the court registry and get a copy of the clerk’s notes. Compare what the clerk wrote with what's in the order. If you see any differences between the two, don't sign the order. Ask the person who wrote the order to make changes and tell them why you're asking.

If you didn't get to see and sign the order before it was filed and you don't think it says what the judge meant, you can apply under Rule 12 of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules to settle the terms of the order (change what it says) using a Notice of Motion (Form 16). But you can't do this just because you don't like the judge's order. You have to be sure there's a difference between the clerk's notes and the order.

You can use wording from the picklist to show what you think the judge actually decided.