Q&A — Provincial Court

COVID-19 has led to changes in BC's legal system Please see our new COVID-19 updates section for detailed information.
The date of the most recent update on a subject is shown in [square brackets].  

If your income has been affected by COVID-19, and you want to change (or make) a child support order or agreement, you can get a free professional mediator to help you. See Remote Child Support Mediation on the MyLawBC website.

You may also take advantage of a new early resolution/expedited Provincial Court process, if you need to suspend or change a Provincial Court child or spousal support filed agreement or order because of a change in income related to COVID-19. The first step in the new process is for you to have a needs assessment interview by phone or videoconference. If you can both agree to change your existing agreement or order, you can get help with preparing an amended written agreement or applying to the court to change your existing order by consent. If you can’t agree, you and the other person may be referred to mediation (if it's appropriate in your situation). You must also fill out some forms for the court (and serve them) so they can arrange a hearing by telephone or videoconference, more quickly than usual.

To apply for this process, contact Family Justice Services to schedule a needs assessment interview at 1-844-747-3963 or 250-356-7012 (Victoria). You can also send an email to CSVariation@gov.bc.ca or JSBVictoriaJACEarlyResolution@gov.bc.ca (Victoria). Note that there are some differences in the process in Victoria. See the Provincial Court website for more details about the new process, and also their Q and A page about support.

If you want changes to child or spousal support for reasons not related to COVID-19, you can't use this process. Instead, make an application through your local Provincial Court registry.

The Provincial Court registries are now open for in-person filing of documents, although the court still prefers alternate methods of filing if possible. Send your documents by email or mail to your local court registry, by fax to a fax filing registry, or by using Court Services Online where available.

Most proceedings are being conducted remotely, meaning you'll "attend" your hearing by a phone call from the court, a conference call through Telus, or an audioconference or videoconference through Microsoft Teams. A number of courtrooms have re-opened throughout the province for some proceedings.

Filing deadlines, limitation periods, and mandatory time periods (to start a court case) are still suspended.

For full information, please see our Provincial Court during COVID-19 page.

If you both agree, you can now change a first appearance date or a trial date without having to go to court. Contact the court registry and ask for an available date that is good for both you and the other person(s). Then, complete a Consent to Court Date form. After everyone has signed it, file it at your local court registry. Note that to change a trial date, you must file the form at least forty-five days before the original trial date.

 

The time periods (limitation periods) in which family actions must usually be started have been suspended during the provincial state of emergency. Judges also have the power to extend other time periods. If you think you may have missed a deadline (to respond to an application, for example), contact the court registry immediately and find out:

  • if you have a court date, and if you can still file, or
  • if you can make an application to extend the time period.

It's a good idea to contact a lawyer immediately as well (see Who to call or Where to go).

COVID-19 has affected many stages in the child protection process for those working with the ministry on the child's plan of care. For full information about hearings, conferences, and trials, see Child protection during COVID-19.

During COVID-19, you don't need to swear or affirm affidavits that you're filing in a Provincial Court matter. The exception is Affidavits of Personal Service, which must be sworn/affirmed before filing if the person who served the documents won't be attending the hearing.

You must still take care to ensure your affidavit is accurate and true. During your hearing, the judge will likely require you to swear or affirm that the contents of your affidavit are true.

 

Don't see your question here? Email us.

Page last updated: October 23, 2020.

Videos

This 7-minute video is for people wondering if they should go to Provincial Court during COVID-19. [May 2020]
Get more help

For more information about the Provincial Court of BC during COVID-19, see the COVID-19 page on the court website.