Going to trial to get a final order from a judge can take a long time and it can be very expensive. But if you and the other party agree about how to settle your issues, you can get final orders without going to court. There are a few different ways you can do this:
- File a Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1)
- File a separation agreement
- File a consent order (desk order)
- Ask for a consent order at a Judicial Case Conference
Read more about each below.
File a Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1)
If you and the other party agree on how you want to resolve all the issues related to your separation and/or divorce, you can file a Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1). When you file this form together you tell the court that you are jointly starting the family law case and that you agree on all issues.
The advantage of filing a Notice of Joint Family Claim is that you do not have to serve documents on the other party (the process of serving documents can be complicated).
File a Notice of Joint Family Claim only if you are certain from the start that you agree to everything, because if it turns out that you do not agree later, you will have to file a lot of extra paperwork.
You can also use a Notice of Joint Family Claim to ask the court to make an order for divorce. You must have grounds for divorce (the most common grounds for divorce is that you have been separated for one year). See the step-by-step guide Joint application for an uncontested divorce.
File an "undefended" case using a Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) instead
If your spouse doesn't want to file jointly, but agrees with, or at least won't oppose a divorce or other orders, you can file a Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) instead. If your spouse doesn't file a Response to Family Claim (Form F4), your case will be treated as uncontested (called "undefended") and follow the same process as a case started by a Notice of Joint Family Claim. See the step-by-step guide Sole application for an uncontested divorce.
File a separation agreement
At any time after you separate, you and the other party can make an agreement about how to settle your family issues. You can then file a written and signed agreement in the Supreme Court registry. The parts of the agreement that deal with parenting and support can be enforced as if they were in a court order.
You can file an agreement without starting a court action and going through the steps in this guide. See Making an agreement after you separate and our self-help guide File your agreement in Supreme Court.
If you settle everything and want to apply for divorce, you must file a Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) or a Notice of Joint Family Claim (Form F1). See one of our step-by-step guides on how to do your own uncontested divorce.
File a consent order (desk order)
At any time during your family law case, you can apply for final orders if you both agree on all the orders you want the court to make. If you agree, then you can file a "desk order" so that you don't have to appear in court. In the court rules, this is called an "undefended family law case."
For you to use this process, you must first settle all the issues related to parenting, support, and property. You can't ask the court for a final desk order for just one issue in your case if you also have other issues that aren't yet settled.
When you file a desk order, the judge/master reviews your documents and makes an order if he or she is satisfied that it is proper to do so, based on the information in your documents.
If the judge/master decides he or she needs more information, you will receive a note asking for more documents or asking you to appear in Chambers to speak to the judge/master.
Follow the instructions on the note. If you don't understand the instructions, ask the registry staff at the courthouse or get legal advice. Don't try to contact the judge/master directly.
Use the desk order process to
- apply for a divorce and/or other family orders together, and
- if one of you applies for a divorce and/or other family orders and the other does not respond or their response has been withdrawn or dismissed.
To get a desk order, start at Step 4 of the step-by-step guide Sole application for an uncontested divorce.
Ask for a consent order at a Judicial Case Conference
If you have already started a family law case, you can attend a Judicial Case Conference (JCC) and ask the court to make final orders there. A JCC provides good opportunity to resolve your case without going to court. See our step-by-step guide Request a Judicial Case Conference to find links to the blank forms you need to schedule, prepare for, and attend a JCC.
Note that the court is unlikely to make final orders on just one part of the case, so only use the JCC process for final orders when all issues are settled.
What the law says about parenting, support, and property when you separate
For more information, see:
- Contact: Spending time with a child
- Decision-making responsibility and parenting time
- Guardianship: Parenting time and parental responsibilities
- Parenting apart
Get legal help
It's a good idea to get some legal help before you use this guide. If you can't afford a lawyer, you can get legal help in other ways, including:
- Lawyer Referral Service
- free (pro bono) legal clinics
- family duty counsel
- family advice lawyers
- family justice counsellors
Staff at Justice Access Centres in Nanaimo, Surrey, Vancouver, and Victoria can also answer your questions and help you fill out forms.
For information about legal aid, see the Legal Aid BC website.