Provincial Court

How to serve Provincial Court documents

What does "serving a document" mean?

Sometimes a legal process will require that documents be served. This means that you must provide the document(s) to the other party or parties in your case. There are two ways that you can serve court documents in a Provincial Court family case: by personal service or by delivery.

What's the difference between personal service and delivery?

  • You must serve some Provincial Court documents by personal service. This means that someone must physically hand them to the party who needs to receive them. You can't do this yourself — you must have someone else, who's at least 19, serve them for you.
  • You can serve most Provincial Court documents by delivery. This means that the documents can be dropped off, mailed, faxed, or emailed to the other party. The delivery method you use depends on what the other party has included in their address for service.

How do I know what the address for service is?

This is the address that the party puts on their own court documents (such as their Application to Obtain an Order or Reply). It should be clearly written on each court document. The address for service must include a postal address, but can also include a fax number or email address.

You can only deliver a document to an address for service that appears on the court document. So even if you know the person's email address, you can't email the documents if that email address isn't included in the address for service.

How do I know which way to serve the documents?

The court rules use the word serve to describe both personal service and service by delivery, so you need to figure out whether a document needs to be served personally. Only these Provincial Court documents must be served personally:

  • Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1);
  • Application Respecting Existing Orders or Agreements (Form 2);
  • Order to Recognize an Extraprovincial Order for Guardianship, Parenting Arrangements or Contact (Form 22);
  • a request for court enforcement under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act;
  • a subpoena; and
  • a summons.

All other Provincial Court documents can be served by delivery.

Important: There are different rules for personal service on the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (and in some other special situations, such as when the other party is a business). See Rule 9(1) of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules.

Once you've figured out how to serve the document, choose the correct guide below.