Enforce a parenting agreement or order in Provincial Court

Provincial Court

Introduction

Court operations during COVID-19

Because of COVID-19, many conferences, hearings, and proceedings are being held by phone or videoconference at this time. For more information, see:
If you or the other parent lives outside BC, you might not be able to use this guide. Speak to a lawyer for advice and see When more than one province or country is involved for more information.
This guide isn't for enforcing child or spousal support agreements or orders.

If a parent isn’t paying the spousal or child support owed to you, you can enroll in the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program. It’s a very helpful free service. You don’t need to come to court to force the person to pay. FMEP will enforce the order for support.

If you want to enforce another part of the agreement, this guide is for you.

You can ask the court to enforce a parenting agreement or order if the other parent isn't doing what the order says. For example:

  • if they don't show up or aren't available to care for a child as agreed or ordered, or
  • if they refuse to let you spend time with the child.

When you do this, you’re asking the court to make a new order.

You can’t force a person to spend time with a child. But under the Family Law Act, if a parent has a habit of not using their parenting time, they can lose some of it. 

Making court applications can be expensive and time-consuming. Do this only if:

  • you and the other parent can't come to an agreement, AND
  • the other parent repeatedly fails to follow an order or agreement, OR
  • the other parent's failure to follow an order or agreement caused you and your child extreme inconvenience and cost you money.
Wellness

Work through this guide at your own pace. There's no need to rush.

File the agreement you want to enforce

You'll need

If you're applying to enforce a court order, you can go to Step 2. Your court order is already filed with the court.
But if your original order was made in a different courthouse, you have to file it with the courthouse you’re using now, even if the original order was made in BC.
You must file your documents at the court registry that is:
  • where an existing case between you is filed, or
  • closest to where your child lives most of the time, if the case involves a child, or
  • closest to where you live, if the case doesn’t involve a child.

If you're applying to enforce an agreement, you must first file it with the court:

  1. Make a copy of your signed agreement.
  2. Fill out the Request to File an Agreement (Form 26). This form is like a cover letter. You won’t need it in court but it’s a good idea to make a copy of it for your own records.
    • For question 4, tick the box that applies to whatever part of the agreement you’re trying to enforce. You can tick more than one box. Talk to duty counsel if you’re not sure what to tick.
  3. Take Form 26 and the copy of your agreement to the Family Court registry at the courthouse.
  4. The registry clerk will check your agreement, stamp it with the court seal, and put it in a file for your case.

You now have an open family law case and can take steps to enforce your agreement.

Fill out the forms

You'll need:

Application About Enforcement (Form 29)

In section 3, write down all the contact information you have for you and the other party. At the end of this section there’s a space for the registry to write the date and time of the hearing.

In section 4, tick all the boxes that apply to your application.

In section 6, give as much detail as you can about the order you want.

In section 7, give as much detail as you can about how the other party hasn’t obeyed the order or agreement and why you think the court should make the order you’re applying for.  

Affidavit (Form 45)

Sections 6 and 7 of Form 29 likely won’t have enough space for you to write everything you want to tell the court. Use the Affidavit (Form 45) to write down all the facts that support the order you're asking the court to make. Give as much detail as you can. This is your evidence. You can give your evidence in person in court instead of filing an affidavit. But if you file an affidavit containing your evidence, it will be less stressful and you’ll be less likely to forget something.

For more information about what to put into an affidavit or say in court, see:

For more information about what to do if someone doesn’t follow an order or agreement, see What happens if the other person doesn't follow an agreement?

Take the affidavit (and any attachments) to a clerk at the court registry to swear or affirm the affidavit. This is a free service. You can also have a lawyer or notary public swear the affidavit but they’ll likely charge a fee. See Who can swear an affidavit? for more on this.

Ask the clerk if they’ll make a copy of your sworn affidavit to keep for your records. They keep the original.

During COVID-19, you don't need to swear or affirm most affidavits that you're filing in a Provincial Court matter. This includes the Financial Statement (Form 4). But you do need to make sure that any affidavit you prepare and file is true and accurate. If there is a hearing, the judge will likely require you to swear or affirm the truth of your affidavits at the hearing. 

Wellness

Paperwork can be tedious and tiring. But you don't have to do it all at once. Remember to take breaks and drink water.

File the documents

You'll need:

  • Four complete sets of the documents you've filled out (Form 29 and the sworn Form 45) (the original and three copies)
  • One copy of your agreement and Form 26

Make three copies of all your documents. Remember to copy any attachments. Organize the originals and copies into four complete sets of your documents, one original and three copies. You’ll:

  • give all the originals (with any attachments) as one set to the court,
  • keep two sets of copies for yourself (one for your records and one for your Proof of Service), and
  • keep one set of copies for the other party.

If you fill out the forms online, you can print as many copies as you need. If you download them and fill them out by hand, you'll have to make photocopies.

Make a copy of your Form 45 after you’ve had it sworn.

File the documents and get a date for the hearing

Take your completed forms to the registry where you filed your agreement or order. You don't have to pay a fee to file an application in Provincial (Family) Court.

  • The registry clerk will keep the original set of the documents. They'll stamp the three copies and return them to you.
  • The registry will give you a date for you to come to court. They’ll write that date on your Form 26. You write it on all three copies of Form 26. (This isn’t your hearing date. It’s the day you come to court and a judge assesses your case. After that, you get a hearing date.)
  • Make sure the date is at least 7 days after the day when you can serve the documents to the other party.

If the registry clerk doesn't accept your documents, find out why and get legal advice.

Serve the documents

You'll need:

  • The other person's address for service (this is the address, email address, or fax number that the person has put on their other court documents)
  • Your two copies of your documents
  • Enough time before your hearing to serve the documents
  • Certificate of service (Form 7)

You must serve (deliver) one set of documents on the other person at least 7 days before the date set for the hearing.

You can serve the documents by regular mail, fax, or email. You can also drop them off in person if you prefer. If you’re mailing them, the court date has to be at least 21 days after you plan to mail the documents. The law allows 14 days for the documents to reach the other party, and they have to arrive at least 7 days before the court date.

If you don't have the other person's address for service, see Serve Provincial Court documents by ordinary or personal service for information about how to proceed.

Fill out the Certificate of Service (Form 7) and attach it to one set of documents. This is your Proof of Service copy of the documents. You’ll bring this set to court. 

Prepare for and go to the hearing

You'll need:

  • Your Proof of Service set of documents and Certificate of Service (Form 7)

To prepare for your hearing, see:

The hearing for an application to enforce a parenting agreement or order will be very similar to a trial, but it might be less formal or follow a different format. See What happens at a Provincial Court family law trial? for more information about trials.

Take your Proof of Service documents and Certificate of Service to court with you. If the other person doesn’t show up, you need to show the judge that you served them with the correct documents. If you can’t show this, the trial might be adjourned (delayed).

Wellness

Taking several slow, deep breaths can make you feel less tense.

Get the order

At the end of the hearing, the judge might give a decision right away or might delay giving the decision until a later date.

If the judge doesn't make their decision that day:

  • the clerk will give you a date to come back to court and hear the decision, or
  • the registry will contact you later to give you a date to come and hear the decision, or
  • the judge will write their decision and mail it to you and the other parent.

If you or the other person has a lawyer, one of the lawyers will prepare the order. If neither of you has a lawyer, the registry clerk will prepare the order.

The order is effective as soon as the judge makes it, unless they specify a different date.


You've completed all the steps to apply to enforce a court order or agreement. Good work, and good luck in court.

Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.

Wellness

That was a lot of work. Whatever you're feeling right now is normal and okay.