Can you change a support order made outside BC?

In many cases, you can change a support order even if it was made outside BC.

Courts outside of BC

Cases where you and the other person (the law calls them the other party) don't live in the same province, territory, or country are called interjurisdictional. That means that more than one legal system or set of laws is involved.

BC has agreements about changing support orders and agreements with:

  • all other Canadian provinces and territories
  • all of the United States
  • several other foreign countries

These places are called reciprocating jurisdictions. If you have a support order that was made outside of BC, you might be able to get it changed if it was made in a reciprocating jurisdiction without having to go there. 

See Interjurisdictional Support Orders (ISO) on the Ministry of Attorney General website for a full list of countries that have reciprocal agreements with BC.

To change an order made outside BC, you need to know which law your order was made under:

Usually support orders say which law they're made under. If your support order doesn't say this, there are ways you can figure it out. See Interjurisdictional orders: When a case involves more than one province, territory, or country for tips on how to find out which law your order is made under.

If one person lives in BC and the other lives in another country that isn't a reciprocating jurisdiction, get legal help. These cases are complicated. See Tips about getting legal help for where to find a lawyer. You can contact the BC Family Maintenance Agency (BCFMA) in case they may be able to help.

How to change a support order made outside BC

There are a few ways you can change your out-of-province support order if you and the other person don't agree. In any process, both of you will also likely have to give the court your financial information (financial disclosure).

Use the Interjurisdictional Support Order Act if one of you lives outside BC

Use an Interjurisdictional Support Order (ISO) package to ask for a change to your support order where you live in BC and the other person lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction. If the other person lives elsewhere in Canada, you can use this process whether your order was made under the federal Divorce Act or under local provincial family law.

To help you figure out which forms you need to fill out, go to Choose Your Forms on the BC government's Family Justice website and answer the short set of questions for guidance. Or, read through their Form Support Guide.

You don't have to notify the other person (the respondent). Send your completed and sworn forms package (original plus two copies) to the designated authority office in the province or territory where you live. If you live in BC, this is:

Interjurisdictional Support Services
PO Box 2074 Stn Main
Vancouver, BC V6B 3S3

604-660-2528 (lower mainland)
1-866-660-2684 (elsewhere in BC)

In most cases, this office sends the forms package to the equivalent office in the jurisdiction where the other person lives. The other person will receive a copy of the forms package, be asked to reply to the application, and be summoned to court to respond in that jurisdiction.

The court in the respondent's jurisdiction will then consider the application and each of your and the other person’s forms and evidence. It can make an order changing your existing support order.

In some cases, the BC court has to hold a provisional hearing – it depends on where the other person lives. This is followed by a “confirmation hearing” in the reciprocating (other) jurisdiction. At the end of the confirmation hearing, the judge can change the support order or dismiss your application.

You can get legal help to fill in the ISO forms. Or you can contact a family justice counsellor for help. The Interjurisdictional Support Services office can answer your questions, but they can't give legal advice.

Make a court application

Another way to change a support order made outside BC is to make a court application in the province, territory, or country where the order was made. 

Contact the court or a lawyer in that jurisdiction to find out how to make the application there. If a court appearance is required, you may be able to appear by video or phone, depending on the rules for that court.

Updated on 14 May 2024