Court operations during COVID-19Courts are conducting family proceedings in different ways. These include in person, audioconference or videoconference, or a mix of in person and remote options, depending on the level of court. For more information, see:
If the other person in your case (the law calls them the other party) doesn't respond to your application for a court order by the deadline, your next steps depend on:
- whether you filed your documents in Provincial Court or Supreme Court, and
- which documents you filed.
If the other person doesn’t file a Reply to your Application About a Family Law Matter (Form 6) or your Reply to a Counter Application (Form 8):
- file the Certificate of Service (Form 7), and
- ask the registry to set a Family Management Conference.
Take your documents to your family management conference (FMC). Be ready to tell the judge which order you want and why. See Family Management Conferences in Provincial Court for more information.
If the other person doesn’t show up, the judge can:
- make an interim order,
- assume that the other person consents (agrees) to the order,
- make assumptions about the other person's income (in the case of support orders),
- issue a summons so the other person has to come to court, or
- make a final order.
If the other person responds to your application after the deadline, or they show up for the FMC, the judge or master might give them a new deadline to respond. This is because it's difficult to make a fair decision if the court only hears one side of a story.
The law says you have an undefended family law case if:
- you file a Notice of Family Claim (Form F3) in Supreme Court, and
- the other person doesn't respond by the legal deadline.
If a divorce is involved, it's often called an uncontested divorce.
Even if the court doesn't hear from one of the people involved, it can:
- make orders about
- support, and
- property, and
- order a divorce.
But you have to prove that:
- the other person has been served with all the documents, and
- appropriate arrangements have been made for any children.
Even if the other person doesn't respond to your application before the deadline, if they respond later, the judge might give them a new deadline to respond, especially if they don't have a lawyer. This is because it's difficult to make a fair decision if the court only hears one side of a story.
If you show up in court with your documents, the judge or master can make an order.
Most family cases aren't sorted out at trials. Going to court can take a long time and cost a lot of money.
Instead, many people:
- ask the court for an interim order, and
- then sort out a final resolution later without going back to court.
If you've filed a Notice of Application (Form F31) to ask the court for an interim order or a change to an order and the other person hasn't responded by the legal deadline:
- Follow the instructions in Get an interim family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree or Change a family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree (whichever one applies to you).
- Go to court on the hearing day. Be ready to let the judge or master know which orders you want. You'll need to prove that you served the other person with the documents. The judge or master will then decide whether to:
- hear your application even though the other person isn't there,
- make an order about what other evidence they need to see before they can make a decision, or
- make an interim order.
Even if the other person doesn't respond to your application before the deadline, if they turn up for the hearing or respond later, the judge or master might give them a new deadline to respond, especially if they don't have a lawyer. This is because it's difficult to make a fair decision if the court only hears one side of a story.
Being prepared ensures that your side of the story is heard and considered. You can do this.