When can you change an order?

Provincial Court
Supreme Court

If things change in your life, you can apply to change an order any time after it's made. This is also called varying an order.

If you have an order and you'd like to get it changed, first ask yourself if you and your spouse are likely to agree about the changes.

You might not be able to change everything in the order. The court:

  • only allows certain changes, and
  • has to be sure that the changes are being made for the right reasons.

For example:

  • If you have a parenting order, the court needs to see that the order would be in the best interests of the child.
  • If you have a child support order and you've lost your job, the court would look at ordering a new amount of support for you.

Usually, the court wants to see that there's been a significant change in your life before it decides that you need a different order. See the tables below for more information about the different rules and guidelines on what can be changed.

How do you change an order?

Usually, you need to apply to the court that made the original order. See Change a family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree or Change a final order or set aside an agreement in Provincial Court if you can't agree for more about this.

If you want to change an interim order, see Can you change an interim order?

Changing an order isn't the same as appealing an order. You can only appeal an order to a higher court if you think the judge has made a mistake about the facts or the law. (See Legal System Overview to find out more about which courts are higher courts.) You don't have much time to bring an appeal, so act fast. See Can you appeal an order? to find out more about this.

How does the court decide to change an order?

If you're trying to change the amount of child or spousal support, check the Federal Child Support Guidelines or the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines first.

See Child support for information about the child support guidelines.

This table shows the type of order you may have, and what must have changed in your life before the court may decide to change your order.

What the order is about What must have changed in your life
Parenting

The court will only consider the change if they decide it's in the best interests of the child. For example:

  • one of the parents wants to move
  • one of the parents has to move for work and their parenting arrangements must be changed
  • the child is older now and their needs have changed
Child support

If your or the other parent's income has changed. For example:

  • income is a lot lower because of job loss
Spousal support

If anything in the other person's life has significantly changed. For example:

  • their income or bills have gone up or down significantly
  • they have suffered an illness or disability that could not have been predicted at the time of the original order