If you've been served with Form 10, 12, 15, 16, 29, or 35, read it very carefully to see what the other person (the law calls them the other party) wants. They applied for one of the following:
- a case management order (Form 10)
- a protection order (protection against abuse or family violence) (Form 12)
- an order about a priority parenting matter (Form 15)
- an order to stop your child's relocation when you already have a parenting agreement or order (Form 16)
- an order to enforce a court order or agreement (or similar) (Form 29)
- an order to enforce a support order related to the Family Maintenance and Enforcement Program (Form 35)
Read all the attachments as well.
Each form is very specific. When you go to court, you can only discuss what's listed and checked off in the form.
You need to attend court on the date and time that's on the application. This date might be for a hearing, or to quickly meet with the judge so they can assess the case and set a hearing date (called a list/remand date). You can call the registry to ask whether it's a hearing or a remand date.
If you can't make it that day, go to the court registry and tell them you need to adjourn (delay) the case to another date. (You can also try calling, but changing the date may not be possible over the phone.) If they won't change the date, you may have to get someone to go to court on that day, with a letter from you saying you can't make it.
If you don't show up, the judge can still make orders that affect you. It's very hard to change a court order later on if you don't have a good reason for missing the hearing.
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.
Court operations during COVID-19Because of COVID-19, many conferences, hearings, and proceedings are being held by phone or videoconference at this time. For more information, see:
Fill out the response
- download PDF forms from the links above and fill them out on your computer,
- print the PDF forms and fill them out in pen, or
- ask for printed forms at your local Family Court registry.
Tips for filling out the response:
- Read the other party's application and any documents attached to the application very carefully again.
- Fill out as many sections of the response as apply to you.
- The more information you put in, the better.
- If Form 19 doesn't have enough space for the information you need to share, fill out the affidavit (Form 45). See How do you write an affidavit? and What to include in an affidavit or bring to court.
If you fill out an affidavit, you must swear or affirm that the information in it and any supporting documents is true. You can do this at the court registry for free when you go to file your forms.
What if I don't respond?
You can still go to court without having filled out the forms. But be prepared to do the following in person in court:
- Respond to what the other person's asking for.
- Tell your side of the story.
- Have an idea of what orders you'd like the court to make, and give evidence (talk) about why the court should make those orders.
Write notes beforehand so you don't forget anything.
If you plan to do this instead of filling out a response (Form 19), go straight to Step 5.
Whatever you decide, don't miss the court date that's on the application. If you can't make it that day, contact the court registry to adjourn (delay) the case to another date. If you don't show up, the judge can make an order without hearing your side of things. You'll have no input into the decision.
It's normal to feel uncertain, but you can do this. Take a break if you need to.
Make copies of Form 19
- your completed Form 19
Make three photocopies so you have four sets of documents:
- the original for the court
- a copy for you
- a copy for the other person
- a copy you may need to file later on to prove that it was served (the "proof of service" copy)
File the documents
- your completed Form 19 and the copies
- your affidavit (Form 45) if you have one
- if you filled out an affidavit, photo ID (such as a BC identity card, driver's lience, or passport)
Go to the Provincial Court registry at the courthouse where the application was filed.
Swear the affidavit at the registry
If you also filled out an affidavit (Form 45), you must swear or affirm that the information in the affidavit and any supporting documents is true. You can do this at the court registry for free. (You have to swear a document in front of a lawyer, notary public, or commissioner of oaths.) Once the document is sworn, it can't be changed.
The registry clerk will also look over the document to make sure you filled it out correctly.
Ask them if they can make three photocopies of the sworn affidavit.
File the documents
Give all your documents (Form 19 and Form 45) to the court registry clerk. They keep the original set of the documents, and 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.
- File your documents by email or mail, by fax, or by using Court Services Online.
- You don't have to swear your affidavit or financial statement. The judge may have you swear it at the hearing. Sign it by hand before filing.
- Filing by email: You can sign the forms using an electronic signature (not typewritten). However, affidavits must be signed by hand. Scan the signed document, and fill out and attach an Electronic Filing Statement (Form 51). Keep the original, as the court may order you to file it.
Your emotions may change often. Whatever you feel is normal and okay.
Serve the documents
- copies of all your documents
- a blank Certificate of Service (Form 7) — fill this out after you serve the documents
You must give a filed (stamped) copy of the forms to the other person before the court date. Use the address or number on their application. You must use the information the person provided as their address for service, even if you have other contact information for them.
Serve documents by one of these methods:
- Drop off the documents at the person's address for service,
- Email the documents to the person's email address for service,
- Fax the documents to the person's fax number for service,
- Mail the documents by registered mail to the person's address for service, or
- Mail the documents by regular mail to the person's address for service.
A document served using regular mail in a Provincial Court case is considered to be served 14 days after the day you mailed it. If you mailed it on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, it’s considered to be mailed the next business day.
The other person must receive the documents before the court date. If they only provided a mailing address, there may not be enough time to send by regular mail. Use registered mail or drop off the document yourself. If this isn't possible, and the court date is less than two and a half weeks away, ask the registry if they can adjourn (delay) the hearing.
Fill out the Certificate of Service (Form 7). Attach this to the "proof of service" copy. Bring it to court.
Attend the hearing
- copies of all your documents, including the "proof of service" copy with the Certificate of Service
- your notes about your evidence
- your notes about everything that supports your position
A hearing is similar to a trial, but it might be less formal or follow a different format. (Hearings for case managements orders are usually quite fast.) See What happens at a Provincial Court family law trial? for more information about trials.
You'll need to prepare for the hearing. If the court date is a remand date, the hearing may take place on the same day.
These pages will help you prepare:
Being prepared ensures that your side of the story is heard and considered. You can do this.
Get the order
At the end of the hearing, the judge might give a decision right away or might wait until a later date.
If the judge doesn't make their decision that day:
- the clerk will give you a date to come back to court and hear the decision, or
- the registry will contact you later to give you a date to come and hear the decision, or
- the judge will write their decision and mail it to you and the other parent.
If an order is made, and neither of you has a lawyer, the registry clerk will prepare the order (as an official document) and send it to you. If you or the other person does have a lawyer, one of the lawyers will prepare it.
The order is effective as soon as the judge makes it, unless they specify a different date.
You've completed all the steps to respond to an application. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.
Your emotions may change often. Whatever you feel is normal and okay.