A court order is the record of a judge's decision. It sets out what you and the other person (the law calls them the other party) have to do or not do.
If you and the other person agree about what you want the court to order:
- you can apply for a consent order, and
- draft (write) the order yourself.
If a judge approves the order:
- they'll sign the order you drafted and,
- you won't have to go to a court hearing.
If you and the other person don't agree, the judge will make an order:
- after a hearing,
- after a trial, or
- at a family management conference.
If one person has a lawyer, the lawyer will draft the order. If neither of you has a lawyer, the court clerk will draft it.
If the other person's lawyer is drafting the order, they might ask for your "signature to be dispensed with." This means they're asking for the order to be approved without you signing it. Don't do this.
Tell the judge you want to sign the order. You'll have a chance to read the order and point out anything you think is a mistake. Once the order is entered (registered with the court) it can take a lot of time and effort to get any changes made if you think the lawyer made a mistake. But if it's a simple order saying everyone must disclose their financial statements by a certain day, it's okay to not sign it.
You can't say you're not signing the order just because you don't like what it says.
If the court clerk wrote the order, they'll give it to the judge to sign. Once the judge has signed the order, it's filed in the court registry. The clerk will send a copy to all the people involved in the case (or their lawyers).
How do you write a consent order?
Fill out a Consent Order (Form 18) form to explain the order you want the court to make. You can fill it out online and print it.
The Provincial Court of BC website has a picklist of approved standard terms (words and terms that are used in court) for family law orders. Use these standard terms when you write your consent order. That way, the court will understand what you want.
The list is organized by topic (for example, guardianship, parenting time, child support). The topics are all written in UPPER-CASE (capital) letters.
Go to the topic that applies to you, choose the order that best describes your situation, and copy and paste it into your form. You can use the exact wording or change it slightly to fit your situation if you need to. There's a lot of information in the picklist, so take your time.
See our step-by-step guide Get a family order in Provincial Court if you both agree to find out more about how to apply for a consent order.
What if you think the order isn't right?
If you don't agree with what's in the order, go to the court registry and get a copy of the clerk's notes. Compare what the clerk wrote with what's in the order. If you see any differences between the two, don't sign the order. Ask the person who wrote the order to make changes and tell them why you're asking.
If you didn't get to see and sign the order before it was filed and you don't think it says what the judge meant, fill in and file an Application for Case Management Order (Form 10). You can't do this just because you don't like the judge's order. You have to be sure there's a difference between the clerk's notes and the order.
You can use wording from the picklist to show what you think the judge actually decided.
If you feel overwhelmed, try doing something physical. You could go for a walk, dance to your favourite song, or hit the gym.