Respond to an application to get a new order in Provincial Court

Provincial Court


About this guide

This step-by-step guide is for people who want to respond to an application for new orders about parenting or support.

This guide will give you step-by-step instructions to:

  • fill out the forms you need to respond to an application for a new order,
  • file them with the registry, and
  • make sure the other person gets the documents.

At the end of the guide, you can choose the next guide to follow, depending on what you want to do.

What is a response to an application?

The other person has applied for a family order, and served you with:

These documents may be served by a process server, or by someone you or the other person knows. You must respond within 30 days. You do this by filling out the Reply (Form 3) and other forms and filing them at the court registry. This guide gives you step-by-step instructions for doing that.

What if I don't respond?

Do not ignore the application. If you don't respond as set out in this guide and within 30 days, the judge may make an order without hearing your side and without your input into the decision.

If you intentionally ignore the other person's application, it can be very difficult — and sometimes even impossible — for you to change any order the judge might make without you.

Get legal help

It's a good idea to get some legal help before you use this guide. If you can't afford a lawyer, you can get legal help in other ways, including:

Staff at Justice Access Centres in Nanaimo, Surrey, Vancouver, and Victoria can also answer your questions and help you fill out forms.

For information about legal aid, see the Legal Aid BC website.

Review the application and prepare to respond

You'll need:

If you don't receive copies of the forms you need or if you prefer to fill them out online, you can download them from the links above. The forms include instructions for filling them out. You can also get free printed forms from the Family Court Registry where you live.

Review the Application and list the issues

  • Read the Application carefully to see what the other person has asked for.
  • Consider whether you can agree with any of the requests in the application or if you have further requests of your own to make.
  • Make a list of the issues you want to address in the Reply (Form 3). These will fall into several categories.
    • parenting, including:
      • guardianship,
      • parenting arrangements, and
      • contact with a child,
    • child support; and
    • spousal support.

The other person may mention some or all of these issues in the application. They may also have left out issues that are important to you. Decide which of these issues apply to your situation when you make your list.

Sort your list of the issues into

  • issues mentioned in the other person's application, and
  • issues you need to raise.

Consider how detailed the court order needs to be

Some things to think about

  • Can you talk to the other person directly every week to arrange flexible parenting arrangements? Or is it so difficult to talk that you need to have the days and times set out in advance?
  • Does the other person share your views about being on time for pick-up and drop-off times? Does the other person phone if he or she will be late?
  • Does the other person let you know if a visit needs to be cancelled?
  • Is the other person flexible in an emergency?

If you can communicate fairly well with the other person, you can probably ask for, or agree with, a less detailed court order that doesn't include the day and time of pick-up and drop-off. Instead, you and the other person can talk about these things on an ongoing basis.

If communication is fairly tense, you may want your Reply (Form 3) or agreement to be more specific about days and times for parenting arrangements.

Prepare the court documents

Download PDF forms from the links above or get free printed forms from your local Family Court registry. Fill out the PDF forms on the computer or print them and fill out in pen.

Following the instructions on the form:

  • Indicate what you disagree with in the Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1) and why.
  • If you don't agree with what the other person is asking for, you must clearly set out what changes you want the court to make.
  • If you want to apply for an order yourself, complete the "Counterclaim (respondent's own application)" section of the Reply (Form 3)
You can either fill out the paper copy of the form the applicant gave you, or fill it out online.

Paper forms

The Reply (Form 3) that you get from the registry is a multi-part form that makes three carbon copies when you complete it. Press hard enough on the top page to make readable copies underneath. If the bottom copy is hard to read, photocopy the original document before you file it.

Online forms

The downloadable PDF of the Reply (Form 3) has instructions on how to complete the form. You can either complete the form online and then print it, or print the form and instructions and fill it in by hand (print clearly using dark-coloured ink).

See our guide, Complete a Provincial Court Financial Statement (Form 4) for detailed instructions for filling out this form.

Remember that you only have 30 days from the time you receive the application to prepare and submit your Reply (Form 3) and (if required) Financial Statement (Form 4). These forms may take some time to complete, so start as soon as possible. If you need help with these forms, see Where can you get help with filling out court forms?.

Swear or affirm the Financial Statement (Form 4)

You'll need:

  • your completed Financial Statement (Form 4)
  • photo identification
  • money to pay any fee

If you have to file a Financial Statement (Form 4), you must swear or affirm that the information in the Financial Statement (Form 4) and any supporting documents is true.

You have to do this in front of a:

  • lawyer,
  • notary public,
  • government agent, or
  • commissioner of oaths.

Bring photo ID with you, such as a:

  • BC identity card,
  • driver’s licence, or
  • passport.
Some staff at the Family Court registry are commissioners of oaths and may provide this service for free. It's a good idea to call ahead and shop around.

Make copies of the documents

You'll need:

  • your completed Reply (Form 3)
  • your sworn completed Financial Statement (Form 4), if you had to complete one
  • any documents that support either form

You need four complete sets of all your documents: the originals and three photocopies.

  • The original forms (with any attachments) for the court (the Court file copy).
  • A set for you (the Filing party's copy)
  • A set for the applicant (the Receiving party's copy)
  • A set for the registry (the Proof of service copy)
If you download the forms from the Internet, you'll have to make copies of all of them. If you get your forms from the Family Court registry, you may not have to make as many copies. Some of the booklets of forms from the Family Court registry contain all the copies you need. Others, like the Financial Statement (Form 4), contain just one copy, so you'll have to photocopy the pages.

File the documents

You'll need:

  • all four sets of your documents
There is no fee for filing documents in Provincial (Family) Court.

Give your documents to the Family Court registry clerk at the courthouse where the Application was filed. 

The registry clerk will keep one set of the documents for the court file copy, and will stamp the other copies and return them to you.

If the registry clerk won't accept your documents, find out why and get legal advice

Choose your next guide

Which step-by-step guide you'll need next depends on if:

  • you both agree on all or some of the issues in the applications; and
  • one of you wants an interim (temporary) order while you work through the issues you don't agree on.

If you and the other person can agree on some or all issues

If the other person wants the court to make an interim order

If the above aren't options for you and the other person 

You've now gone through all the steps required to respond to a family law case to get a new order in Provincial Court. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.