Can you change a support order made in BC if one of you doesn't live here?

Provincial Court
Supreme Court

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If you have a support order that was made in BC, and either you or the other person (the law calls them the other party) doesn't live in BC, you can still change the order.

Courts outside of BC

Cases where you and the other person 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 enforcing and 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. You can make an application to change an existing support order in a reciprocating jurisdiction where the other person lives without having to go there. 

    How to do this depends on:

    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 you or the other person live in another country, you need to know if that country is a reciprocating jurisdiction. See Interjurisdictional Support Orders (ISO) on the Ministry of Attorney General website for a full list of countries that have reciprocal agreements with BC.

    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 Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) in case they may be able to help.

    How to change your BC support order

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

    Use the Interjurisdictional Support Order Act

    Use an Interjurisdictional Support Order (ISO) package to ask for a change to your support order if one of you lives in BC and the other lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction.

    If you live in BC, there's online help to 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 BC support order is to make a court application in the appropriate BC court.

    If your order was made in BC Provincial Court, apply to change the order in that court. Use our step-by-step guide Change a final order or set aside an agreement in Provincial Court if you can't both agree.

    If your order was made in BC Supreme Court, apply to change the order in that court. See our step-by-step guide Change a family order in Supreme Court if you can't both agree.

    You'll have to pay special attention to the rules about serving court documents on the other person who doesn't live in BC. See our step-by-step guide Serve documents outside BC.

    If a court appearance is required, you may be able to appear by video or phone, depending on the rules for that court.

    If you or the other person live far from the court and you must appear in court, ask:

    • if you can appear by phone or video, or
    • if the court would transfer your file to a court in BC that's easier for you to get to.

    The forms and procedures you use will depend on which court your case is in.

    To ask about appearing by phone or video in Supreme Court, fill out a Requisition (Form F17) and file it at the court registry. Include a signed letter that explains why you want to attend by phone or video.

    To ask about appearing by phone or video in Provincial Court,

    Include any evidence or documents in support of your application, such as a signed letter that explains why you want to attend by phone or video

    In either case, the court will decide if you can attend by video or phone. Contact the registry to find out if your request has been approved. If it is, the registry will tell you what to do next.