Interjurisdictional support orders

Provincial Court
Supreme Court

When a case involves more than one province, territory, or country

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.

You might be able to change or enforce a support order or agreement that was made in one place even though you or the other person (the law calls them the other party) don't live there now.

BC has agreements about enforcing support orders and agreements with:

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

These places are called reciprocating jurisdictions.

But you also need to know if your support order was made under:

Divorce Act or provincial family law?

If you aren't sure which act your support order was made under, here are some tips to help you figure it out:

  • If you were never legally married, your support order wasn't made under the Divorce Act.
  • Look at which court your support order was made in. Only certain courts have the power to make a Divorce Act order in Canada:
    • Supreme Courts of British Columbia, Nova Scotia, the Northwest Territories, the Yukon Territory, Newfoundland, or Prince Edward Island
    • Courts of Queen's Bench in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and New Brunswick
    • Superior Court of Justice (or Unified Family Court) in Ontario
    • Superior Court in Québec
    • Court of Justice in Nunavut

But these courts can also make support orders under provincial or territorial laws.

  • If your support order has a paragraph that talks about granting (giving) a divorce, the order was made under the Divorce Act. (Older orders for divorce might talk about a decree nisi or a decree absolute.) But support might still have been ordered under provincial or territorial law unless the order clearly says that support is ordered under the Divorce Act.
  • Child support orders made under the Divorce Act usually talk about children as "children of the marriage."
  • Child support orders made under provincial or territorial laws talk about children as "children."
  • If the order granting your divorce is different from the support order, look at the court file number on the divorce order and the one on the support order. If the numbers are the same, the support order was likely made under the Divorce Act.

If you still aren't sure if your support order was made under the Divorce Act, speak to:

  • someone at the court registry where your order was made, or
  • the lawyer who helped you get your divorce.

You might have to look at the documents filed in court right at the beginning of your case to be sure.

Updated on 4 October 2019