Q&A — Provincial Court

COVID-19 Info Q&A Provincial court
COVID-19 has led to changes in BC's legal system. As of July 2, 2021, all court COVID-19 safety measures for in-person proceedings are still in effect. All questions and answers below remain up to date. Please see our new COVID-19 updates section for detailed information.
The date of the most recent update on a subject is shown in [square brackets].  

Limitation periods for starting a family action in court are still suspended until March 25, 2021, when all the usual deadlines will apply once again.

If you think you may have missed a deadline, contact the court registry immediately and find out:

  • if you have a court date, and if you can still file, or
  • if you can make an application to extend the time period.

It's a good idea to contact a lawyer immediately as well (see Who to call or Where to go). See the Legal Aid in BC website for current information about duty counsel lawyers and family advice lawyers, who are now available by phone only.

If you want to make a child support agreement, you can get a free professional mediator to help you and the other parent.

You can learn more about this online service and other dispute resolution services available on MyLawBC.

You may also take advantage of a new early resolution/expedited Provincial Court process, if you need to suspend or change a Provincial Court child or spousal support filed agreement or order because of a change in income related to COVID-19. The first step in the new process is for you to have a needs assessment interview by phone or videoconference. If you can both agree to change your existing agreement or order, you can get help with preparing an amended written agreement or applying to the court to change your existing order by consent. If you can’t agree, you and the other person may be referred to mediation (if it's appropriate in your situation). You must also fill out some forms for the court (and serve them) so they can arrange a hearing by telephone or videoconference, more quickly than usual.

To apply for this process, contact Family Justice Services to schedule a needs assessment interview at 1-844-747-3963 or 250-356-7012 (Victoria). You can also send an email to CSVariation@gov.bc.ca or JSBVictoriaJACEarlyResolution@gov.bc.ca (Victoria). Note that there are some differences in the process in Victoria. See the Provincial Court website for more details about the new process, and the BC government website Q and A page about support.

If you want changes to child or spousal support for reasons not related to COVID-19, you can't use this process. Instead, make an application through your local Provincial Court registry.

The Provincial Court has reopened and family matters are going ahead on their scheduled dates. Most proceedings are being conducted remotely, meaning you'll "attend" your hearing by a phone call from the court, a conference call through Telus, or an audioconference or videoconference through Microsoft Teams. A number of courtrooms have re-opened throughout the province for some trials.

The Provincial Court registries are now open for in-person filing of documents, although the court still prefers alternate methods of filing if possible. Send your documents by email or mail to your local court registry, by fax to a fax filing registry, or by using Court Services Online where available.

Filing deadlines, limitation periods, and mandatory time periods (to start a court case) are still suspended.

For full information, please see our Provincial Court during COVID-19 page.

If you both agree, you can now change a first appearance date or a trial date without having to go to court. Contact the court registry and ask for an available date that is good for both you and the other person(s). Then, complete a Consent to Court Date form. After everyone has signed it, file it at your local court registry. Note that to change a trial date, you must file the form at least forty-five days before the original trial date.

 

As of May 17, 2021, you can file the following signed documents without first swearing or affirming them if it's medically unsafe or not possible to meet with a commissioner of oaths:

  • Affidavit — General (Form 45)
  • Financial Statement (Form 4)
  • Guardianship Affidavit (Form 5)
  • Application About a Protection Order (Form 12) if you're attaching Schedule 1

You must still take care to ensure your affidavit is accurate and true. During your hearing, the judge will likely require you to swear that the contents of your affidavit are true.

To file sworn or unsworn affidavits and financial statements online or by email, sign the document by hand (electronic signatures aren't acceptable). Then scan the document to a PDF — most smartphones have an app to do this. Fill out and attach an Electronic Filing Statement (Form 51), which you can sign using an electronic signature. Keep the original document in case a judge orders you to file later on.

COVID-19 has affected many stages in the child protection process for those working with the ministry on the child's plan of care. For full information about hearings, conferences, and trials, see Child protection during COVID-19.

Don't see your question here? Email us.

Page last updated: October 23, 2020.

Videos

This 7-minute video is for people wondering if they should go to Provincial Court during COVID-19. [May 2020]
Get more help

For more information about the Provincial Court of BC during COVID-19, see the COVID-19 page on the court website.