Court operations during COVID-19Because of COVID-19, many conferences, hearings, and proceedings are being held by phone or videoconference at this time. For more information, see:
First of all, think about whether you actually need to go to court. It can be expensive and stressful. Many couples get help to solve their family law issues without going to court. See Making an agreement after you separate and Who can help you reach an agreement? for more information.
If you need to go to court to apply for a court order, find out which court you need to apply to. In BC, the Supreme Court and the Provincial Court handle some of the same types of cases. But there are differences in how they work and how much they cost. See the tables below for more information about Supreme Court and Provincial Court.
Sometimes you don't have a choice
Sometimes you don't have a choice about which court you go to. For example, if you want to change an order that's already in place, you usually have to go back to the same court where the order was made. Get legal help if you want to go to a different court.
The first table shows you which court you have to go to for certain types of problems. The second one shows you some differences between the courts.
Which court do you go to?
|Supreme Court to...||Supreme or Provincial Court to...|
What are the courts like?
|Supreme Court has...||Provincial Court has...|
The benefits of using both courts
Sometimes it's better to use both courts but for different things. For example, you could:
- get most of your orders in Provincial Court, and
- just apply for your divorce order in Supreme Court.
Using both courts like this might save you money and time, especially if you and your spouse agree about doing things this way.
But sometimes dealing with two different courts just makes things harder. For example, things can get complicated if you ask more than one court to deal with parenting and support issues.
Do you need more help deciding where to file your case?
Some terms in the Divorce Act will change on March 1, 2021
Effective March 1, 2021, the federal Divorce Act will use terms similar to those in the BC Family Law Act.
- The term decision-making responsibility will replace custody to describe the responsibility for making important decisions and getting information about the children after separating.
- The term parenting time will be used to describe the time that a spouse spends with their child and is responsible for supervising and caring for the child.
- The term contact will be used instead of access to describe the time children spend with a person who isn't a spouse. This includes grandparents, aunts and uncles, and others.