Final and interim court orders

Provincial Court
Supreme Court

Court orders can be final or interim.

Final orders

A final order isn't always as final as its name suggests. Some parts of a final order can be changed later.

You can make changes by:

  • going to court,
  • agreeing with the other person to get a new final order, or
  • making an agreement with the other person.
If you make an agreement with the other person, you don’t need to file it. To find out more about changing an agreement, see How do you change an agreement?

The parts of a final order that deal with adults' needs are usually harder to change than the parts that deal with children's needs. For example, it's hard to change:

  • a final order about the division of property and debts, and
  • a final order for spousal support.

Final orders about child support and parenting arrangements are usually easier to change because the courts know that:

  • the financial situation of the parties often changes over time, and
  • the best interests of the child change as the child gets older.

But they're meant to last for at least a year or two before there needs to be any change.

A court can make a final order:

  • at the end of a trial,
  • when both spouses agree to an order (called a final consent order), or
  • when the spouses apply for a divorce.
Talk to a lawyer or duty counsel before you agree to a final order.

How do you apply for a final order?

To find out how to apply for a final order in Provincial Court, see:

To find out how to apply for a final order in Supreme Court, see Get a final family order in Supreme Court if you both agree.

How do you change a final order?

If you want to have your final order changed but your spouse won't agree to the change, you can:

  • ask the court to change it,
  • agree to go to mediation through a private mediator, or
  • go through the family justice counsellor program, which is a free service.

If you decide to change your order, see Change a final order or set aside an agreement in Provincial Court if you can't agree.

Can you appeal a final order?

Appealing an order isn't the same as changing an order.

You can appeal an order to a higher court if you think the judge made a mistake about the facts or the law when they made your order. You only have a short time to make an appeal.

See Can you appeal an order? for more about this.

See Legal System Overview to find out more about which courts are higher courts.

Interim orders

Interim means temporary (for a certain time). But interim orders usually don't have expiry dates (dates when they run out), so you can use them for long as you need to. Most people never get a final order and just get interim orders, which are easier to change when your situation changes. Always check the order to be sure, though. Sometimes parts of an order might have an expiry date.

You can get as many interim orders as you need.

If you're dividing property or getting a divorce, you'll need a final order. But for other issues, it might be easier to get interim orders so you can change them once things have settled down.

Most people never get a final order if it relates to their children and child support. They just use their interim orders and get new ones when things change in their lives. For example, as children get older they might not want to spend every weekend away from home with their other parent. You can get a new order for parenting arrangements that suit your children's needs better.

How do you apply for an interim order?

If you want to apply for an interim order in Provincial Court, see:

If you want to apply for an interim order in Supreme Court, see:

The Supreme Court Family Rule 10-6 has some useful information about applying for an interim order in Supreme Court.

If you're applying for an interim order in Supreme Court, the application for an interim order might be called a Chambers application.

Can you change an interim order?

If your interim order no longer works for you or your child’s life, you can:

  • try to come to a new agreement or consent order with the other person,
  • apply to change the order at a hearing or ask for a family management conference or a family settlement conference, or
  • schedule a trial if you want a final order.

But the court won't change an interim order just because you don't like what it says.

The court will only change an interim order if:

  • things have changed for you or your spouse since the order was made (for example, your spouse has a new job that pays more money),
  • you or your spouse has important evidence that wasn't available when the interim order was made, or
  • the child’s needs have changed (for example, they're going to a new school, they're older and they need more flexibility, or they don't want to move between homes).

If you're thinking about trying to change an interim order, get legal advice first.

For a step-by-step guide on how to change an order in Provincial Court, see:

For a step-by-step guide on how to change an order in Supreme Court, see:

Free mediation

If you want to make a child support agreement, you can get a free professional mediator to help you and the other parent.

You can learn more about this online service and other dispute resolution services available on MyLawBC.