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:
- a copy of their Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1)
- a blank Reply (Form 3) for you to fill out,
- a blank Financial Statement (Form 4) for you to fill out, and
- the applicant's own Financial Statement if they filled one out.
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.
What the law says about parenting, support, and property
For more information, see:
- Contact: Spending time with a child if you're not a guardian
- Guardianship: Parenting time and parental responsibilities
- Parenting apart
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:
- Lawyer Referral Service
- free (pro bono) legal clinics
- family duty counsel
- family advice lawyers
- family justice counsellors
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
- the applicant's completed Application to Obtain an Order (Form 1)
- their completed Financial Statement (Form 4), if they had to fill one out
- a blank Reply (Form 3)
- a blank Financial Statement (Form 4)
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:
- parenting arrangements, and
- contact with a child,
- child support; and
- spousal support.
- parenting, including:
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
Filling out the Reply (Form 3)
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)
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.
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).
Filling out the Financial Statement (Form 4)
See our guide, Complete a Provincial Court Financial Statement (Form 4) for detailed instructions for filling out this form.
Swear or affirm the Financial Statement (Form 4)
- 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:
- notary public,
- government agent, or
- commissioner of oaths.
Bring photo ID with you, such as a:
- BC identity card,
- driver’s licence, or
Make copies of the documents
- 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)
File the documents
- all four sets of your documents
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
- Either of you can apply for a final consent order or an interim consent order for the issues you agree on.
- You can continue to work through the issues you don't agree on.
If the other person wants the court to make an interim order
- They can apply to get an interim family order and serve you with a Notice of Motion (Form 16).
- You can respond to their application.
- You can both continue to work through the issues you don't yet agree on.
If the above aren't options for you and the other person
- You can follow the process to allow the court to make a final order.
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.