Respond to an application to enforce a parenting agreement or order in Supreme Court

Supreme Court

Introduction

You've been served with a Notice of Application (Form F31)

You've been served with this form because your child's other parent has applied to enforce a parenting agreement or order. They think you're not following the agreement or order. For example, you're:

  • not showing up or being available to care for your child as agreed or ordered, or
  • refusing to let the other parent spend time with the child.

You have five business days from the time you're served with these documents to respond to the application. If you receive the documents after 4 pm, calculate the time limits beginning on the next business day. If you don't respond, the other person can continue with the application and will appear at the court hearing without you. Orders can be made in your absence.

Can you agree?

Supreme Court applications cost time and money. Before you respond, think about whether you and the other person can agree about following the order or agreement.

If you can agree, you don't have to go to court. See Who can help you reach an agreement? for resources and services that can help you with this.

If the other person succeeds in having the agreement enforced, the judge might award costs against you. This mean you'll have to pay some of the other person's court costs and legal expenses, as well as your own.

Get legal help

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

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

Review the application

You'll need:

  • The applicant's completed documents
    • Notice of Application (Form F31)
    • Affidavit (Form F30)
The date and time for the hearing will be written on the Notice of Application. Put this on your calendar. You won't get any further notice of the hearing date.

Read the Notice of Application and Affidavit carefully to understand what the applicant is asking for.

You have five business days from the time you're served with these documents to respond to the application. If you receive the documents after 4 pm, calculate the time limits beginning on the next business day. If you don't respond, the other person can continue with the application and will appear at the court hearing without you. Orders can be made in your absence.

If the applicant doesn't arrange a Judicial Case Conference (JCC) before making their court application, you may want to consider arranging one. A JCC is optional, but having one can save you time and money. The JCC gives you and the other person the opportunity to sit down with the judge and either resolve your case without going to court, or help you to prepare for the court hearing. For more information on JCCs, see Judicial Case Conferences in Supreme Court.

Even if you'd like to have a JCC before the hearing, you still need to respond to the application in time or ask the applicant to postpone the hearing until after the JCC.

Complete the court documents

You'll need:

  • Application Response (Form F32) (PDF) (Word).
  • The original of any Affidavit (Form F30) (PDF) (Word) and every other document you will be referring to at the hearing and that has not already been filed.

Fill out the forms and gather the supporting documents

For help writing the Affidavit, see:

You can also see Checklist of information to include in an affidavit or bring to court, though most of the detailed information in the checklist won't apply to you. The important information that you must include in your affidavit is:

  • information about your arrangements for parenting, and
  • what happened (that is, did you fail to follow your agreement or order, and if so, why).

These forms contain technical instructions to help you fill them out. For more help using the forms, see:

Swear or affirm the affidavit

You'll need:

  • Your Affidavit (Form F30)
  • Money to pay the fee to swear the document

After you've completed the Affidavit (Form F30), you must swear or affirm that the information that appears in these documents is true. Any exhibits to your Affidavit must also be stamped and sworn.

You have to do this in front of a:

  • lawyer,
  • notary public, or
  • commissioner of oaths (found in courthouse registries, at both Supreme and Provincial Court).

If you're going to a lawyer or a notary public, call ahead to make sure that they can swear or affirm the document for you. Mention that the document's an affidavit and you don't need any advice.

Take photo identification with you.

Some people charge a lot more for this service than others. It's a good idea to shop around.
During COVID-19, you can swear a Supreme Court affidavit by videoconference if it's impossible or medically unsafe for you to meet a commissioner to swear an affidavit.

Copy, file, and serve the documents

You'll need:

  • Your completed forms:
    • Application Response (Form F32)
    • Every Affidavit (Form F30) and every document you intend to refer to in court, if it hasn't already been filed at the registry as part of this case.
  • $25 to file an Application Response
  • The other person's address for service
  • An Affidavit of Ordinary Service (Form F16) (PDF) (Word)

Make copies

Make four copies of all your completed documents and any exhibits or attachments:

  • The registry keeps the original.
  • One copy is for you.
  • Two copies are served on the other person.
  • One copy is to attach to the Affidavit of Ordinary Service (Form F16).

File the forms at the court registry

Take the original and the three copies, plus the filing fees, to the Supreme Court registry.

A clerk at the registry will take your money, check your documents, stamp them with the court seal, and put the originals into the file for your case. They will give the stamped copies of the forms back to you.

Give the documents to the other person

You need to serve the Application Response, Affidavits and any exhibits that have not already been served, on the other person within 5 business days of being served with the Notice of Application (Form F31).

You can serve these documents by ordinary service. This means that you can:

  • leave the documents at the other person's address for service (the address they put on their court documents, such as their Notice of Application),
  • mail the documents by regular post to the other person's address for service, or
  • email or fax the documents, if the other person provided an email address or fax number as part of their address for service.
For more information on serving documents and help with filling out an Affidavit of Ordinary Service (Form F16), see Serve Supreme Court documents. If the other person doesn't attend the hearing, the Affidavit of Ordinary Service will prove to the judge that you served the documents.

Receive and review further documents

You'll need:

  • Any new affidavits from the applicant
  • The Application Record Index

More affidavits

After the other person receives your documents, they may send you one or more additional affidavits. The other person must serve any responding affidavits on you before 4 p.m. on the business day that's one full business day before the date set for the hearing.

Any new affidavits should contain only new information not included in the earlier affidavits served with the Notice of Application (Form F31).

Application Record Index

The other person must provide the court with a binder of all the material for the hearing, including your Response and your affidavits. This is called the Application Record. The other person must provide you with the index to the Application Record, which lists the documents that are included in the binder, no later than 4 p.m. on the business day that's one full business day before the hearing.

If any documents are missing from the index

Review the index carefully to make sure that all the documents you want to show to the judge or master are included in the Application Record. If something is missing from the index, tell the other person immediately, by fax or email if possible, and ask them to include the missing documents. Make a copy of this letter for the judge or master.

Bring two extra copies of any missing documents to the hearing so that you can give one each to the judge and the other person, if necessary. Bring along the Affidavit(s) of Ordinary Service to prove that the documents were delivered to the other person and should have been in the Application Record.

You can make your own Application Record, to help you organize the information and evidence that you need in court. See Step 6.

Make an Application Record, if you want one

You'll need:

  • All the documents you received from the applicant
  • All the documents you filed in your response
  • The Application Record Index
  • A ring binder large enough to hold all the documents
  • Divider tabs

If you want, you can make your own copy of the Application Record. An Application Record is a loose-leaf ring binder, divided by tabs, that contains your information and evidence and includes a table of contents, called an index. The other person is responsible for providing the Application Record to the court and for sending you a copy of the index, so that you can see what's in the Application Record.

The Application Record will help you to organize the information and evidence that you need in court, making it easier for you to follow the court proceedings because you, the judge, and the other person will all have the same materials, in the same order.

If you want your own copy of the Application Record, you have to make one. Refer to the index of the Application Record that the other person sent you.

Insert all your documents, and those you received from the other person, in the order they appear in the index. You can use the Application Record index that the other person sent you for your binder. If materials are missing from the index the other person gave you, add them to the end of the index you're working with.

The Application Record can also include draft orders, written arguments, lists of authorities (any case, textbook, article, or statute you might use to support your argument), or a draft bill of costs. The Application Record must not include Affidavits of Service, copies of authorities, or other documents unless the other person has agreed to you including these.

Appear in court

Getting ready for your court appearance

You'll be appearing in Chambers to ask a judge to respond to the application to change your order. To find out more about Chambers, see What happens in a Supreme Court Chambers hearing?

If you can't attend or you're not ready

If the date on the Notice of Application won't work for some reason (for example, if you aren't ready), you must still go to court and stand up and ask for an adjournment. If you really can't go to court on that day, ask someone to go in your place to ask for an adjournment. This person will need an Affidavit from you, or at least a signed letter from you explaining your circumstances. You'll have to give a good reason for asking for an adjournment. If you don't show up without an explanation, the judge may make the order the other person asks for in your absence, and order costs against you.

Review and sign the order

Who drafts the order?

After you appear in court, the other person (or their lawyer) will prepare an order that says what the judge or master decided. If there's a lawyer representing either of you, the court usually requires that the lawyer prepare the order, no matter who made the application. Ask for a chance to review and sign the order once the lawyer has written it and before it's given to the court registry.

If you disagree with the way the order was written, you can ask for a copy of the clerk's notes from the registry to compare what the judge or master said with what's been written in the order. If you still disagree, you can apply to have the order settled. This means that the court registrar will figure out what the order should say. Get legal advice if this happens.

Disagreeing with what was ordered isn't the same as disagreeing with how it was written down in the order. If you disagree with what was ordered, get legal advice as soon as possible. You need to know if you can apply to change the order or if an appeal would be appropriate.

If an appeal would be appropriate, there are important time limits to follow for filing it. If an appeal isn't appropriate, you'll need to decide if you want to go to trial. Appeals are only successful if there's a significant error in law, which doesn't happen very often in family Chambers applications. See Can you appeal an order? to find out more about appeals.

If you agree that the order as written or revised is correct, sign in the correct place on the last page of the order and return it to the person who sent it to you. Ask for a copy of the entered or filed order. Before you return the signed order, make a copy of it for your records.

Get a copy of the order

The other person will pick up the signed and entered order and mail a copy to you. This signed and sealed order is your official court order; be sure to keep a copy of it.

If you don't receive a copy of the order within three or four weeks, you can go to the court registry and ask whether the order has been entered. If it has been, you can get a copy of the filed order from the court file. You may have to pay for photocopying.


You have now gone through all the steps required to respond to an application to change a family order in Supreme Court. Thank you for using our step-by-step guide.