Get an interim family order in Provincial Court if you can't both agree

Provincial Court


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:

Before you begin

Before you use this guide, you must start a family law case. There are two ways to do this, depending on your situation: Once you've followed the steps in one of those guides, you can apply for an interim order using this guide.

Who this guide is for

This step-by-step guide is for people who want to apply for an interim order in the Provincial (Family) Court of BC if you and the other person don't agree on what the order should say. This includes orders about:

  • parenting,
  • child support, or
  • spousal support.
If your case is in Victoria, you will follow different procedures. See Family Matters in the Victoria Courthouse.

Get legal help

It's a good idea to get some legal help before you begin a guide. If you can't afford a lawyer, there are other ways to get legal help, including:

Fill out the forms

You'll need:

Your original Application to Obtain an Order (or the counterclaim on your Reply) must include the category of order you're asking for an interim order for.

For example, if you're asking for an interim order about parenting, child support, and spousal support, but your Application to Obtain an Order (or the counterclaim on your Reply) doesn't say you want spousal support, you'll have to file another Application to Obtain an Order (or counterclaim) saying you're asking for spousal support before you can file the Notice of Motion.
You can download blank forms and instructions for filling them out from the links above, or from the courthouse services section of the provincial Law, Crime, and Justice website. You can also get free printed forms from the Family Court registry in the town or city where you live.

You can use the Notice of Motion (Form 16) to apply for an interim order for:

  • guardianship,
  • allocation of parenting responsibilities,
  • parenting time,
  • contact with a child,
  • child or spousal support, and
  • procedural orders like orders to disclose information.

On the Notice of Motion form:

  • Tick the box that shows you're applying for an interim order under section 216 or 217 of the Family Law Act.
  • In the blank area under the list of check boxes, write the interim orders you would like the court to make.
  • You will fill in the space for the date and time of the hearing when you file the Notice of Motion at the court registry.
Because you're filing the Notice of Motion, you're called the applicant. The person responding to the Notice of Motion is called the respondent.

This can be confusing because the person filing the Application to Obtain an Order is also called the applicant and the person filing the Reply is the respondent. But the original respondent can be the one to file a Notice of Motion so can be called the applicant just for that particular application.

An Affidavit (Form 17) is a document that states facts that you swear under oath or affirm to be true in front of:

  • a lawyer,
  • notary public, or
  • commissioner for taking affidavits.

During the period of reduced Provincial Court operations due to COVID-19, you don't need to swear or affirm most affidavits that you're filing. 

However, the person who served the documents must swear or affirm an Affidavit of Personal Service (before giving it to you to file) if they won't be attending the hearing.

The affidavit on an interim application states the facts that support the order you're asking the court to make. This is your evidence. You can give your evidence in person in court instead of filing an affidavit. But your application may go more smoothly if you file an affidavit with your evidence.

For more information about what to put in an affidavit or what to say in court, see Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or present in court and How do you draft an affidavit?. The checklist is for guidance, but the affidavit must be tailored to your specific circumstances. You can only put things in an affidavit that you have direct knowledge of.

If you already filed a Financial Statement with your Application to Obtain an Order (or your Reply), you don't need to do it again. Go to the next step.

To figure out if you have to file a Financial Statement, and for help filling it out if you do, see Complete a Provincial Court Financial Statement (Form 4).

Make copies of the documents

You'll need:

  • Four complete sets of the documents you've prepared.

Keep all the original forms (with any attachments) as one set. You will give this set to the court (called the Court file copy).

Make three sets of photocopies:

  • A set for you (the Applicant's copy)
  • A set for the other person (the Respondent's copy)
  • A set for the person who will serve the application (called the Proof of service copy
If you downloaded the forms, you'll have to make several copies of everything. Some forms booklets from the registry contain all the copies you need.

File the documents and get a date for the hearing

You'll need:

  • All four complete sets of your documents

You file your documents at the Family Court registry where the Application to Obtain an Order was filed.

There is no fee for filing applications in Provincial (Family) Court.

Take your documents to the Family Court registry and give them to the registry clerk.

The registry will give you a date for your court hearing. Write that each copy of on the Notice of Motion.

The registry clerk will keep one set of the documents for the court file copy, and will stamp the other copies and return them to you.

If the registry clerk refuses to accept your documents, find out why and get legal advice.

Give the documents to the other person

You'll need:

  • the other person's address for service
  • the respondent's copy of the documents
  • the proof of service copy of the documents

You can serve the documents on the other person by sending or delivering them to their address for service. That is the address the other person listed on the Reply or the Application to Obtain an Order.

If the address for service includes an email address, you can email the documents. If the address for service doesn't include an email address, don't email the documents, even if you know the other person's (or their lawyer's) email address.

See our guide Serve Provincial Court documents for information about how to serve a document and complete the Affidavit of Personal Service

Prepare for and attend the hearing

Prepare for the hearing

To be properly prepared for your hearing, you need to:

  • know what happens in court, and
  • prepare a trial book.

These are described in detail in Preparing to attend a Provincial Court trial. (Your hearing will be more informal than a full trial. But the general information about what to expect in the courtroom and how to prepare will apply.)

Attend the hearing

For a detailed description of what you can expect at your trial, see What happens at a Provincial Court family law trial?

Get the order

If your case is in Kelowna Provincial Court, see our Child Support page for important information

At the end of the hearing, the judge either:

  • gives a decision right away, or
  • reserves their decision to a later date.

If the decision isn't made that day:

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

Sometimes the judge writes a decision that's mailed to you both. Written decisions can be long. Usually the judge will state at the end what orders are being made.

The registry clerk will prepare the order if neither party has a lawyer, as required by the Provincial (Family) Court Rules. If only one party has a lawyer, usually that lawyer will draft the order.

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

Register the order with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (if you want)

If you receive a child or spousal support order, you may wish to register your order with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP). FMEP is a provincial government service that helps people get the support (maintenance) payments the judge orders.

You must include a certified copy of your order with your enrolment package to speed up the enforcement process. Ask at the Family Court Registry for a certified copy. There may be a fee for certification. Call ahead to find out.

For more information, see Family Maintenance Enforcement Program on the Family Justice (Attorney General ministry) website.

For information about how to contact the FMEP, see the FMEP website.

You've now gone through all the steps required to get an interim family order in Provincial Court. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.