6.4 Choosing the Right Court


For more information on choosing the right court see the Family Law in BC’s Choosing Court Fact Sheet

Another factor you will need to consider is which court you will be going to. In BC, we have two levels of court that deal with separation and divorce issues: the Provincial Court, (also called the Family Court), and the Supreme Court. You may hear people referring to these courts as having jurisdiction, (the right to rule), over different parts of your separation or divorce.

Depending on what issues you are dealing with, you will need to decide which court you will use. If you are making an application, you will need to choose which court to go to. Choosing the right court can save you time and money.  Take a look at the chart to see which issues each court deals with. For example, Divorce and property issues are only dealt with by the Supreme Court.

Which Court Does What?


Supreme Court Provincial Court


Custody/ guardianship

Access/ Parenting Arrangements

Child Support and spousal support.

Property/Debt Division

Enforce Orders




Three Key Points about choosing court

  • If you are applying for a divorce or property division, you must apply at the Supreme Court
  • If you are applying in the Provincial Court, you will need to use the Family Law Act.
  • If you are applying in Supreme Court, you can use either the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act.

Did you know that you do not have to bring every matter to the same court? You could bring a property division matter to the Supreme Court and a child support matter to the Provincial Court.

Here are some of the differences between Provincial and Supreme Court you should consider.

Court Differences

Provincial Court

Supreme Court

Fewer rules and easier to understand

More rules and more complex

Less formal and more flexible

More formal and less flexible

Less paperwork

More paperwork

More people representing themselves

More lawyers representing clients

Allows spoken evidence

Requires written evidence 

More locations

Less locations

No filing fees

Filing fees: $200 to start, plus…

Cannot award costs -  just expenses

Can award costs and expenses


Provincial Court Processes are easier, faster and cheaper. Supreme Court Processes are more complex, slower and expensive. Keep in mind that the Provincial court cannot award costs. This means that even if you win the case, you will need to pay your own legal fees.  If you’re seeking a divorce and property division you’ll need to go to Supreme Court. For other matter, even though they can be brought to either court, as a self-representing litigant, you should always try to bring these issues before the Provincial Court. The Provincial Court is almost always the cheaper option, and it has more relaxed rules and procedures which will make representing yourself much easier.  And remember, if you’re going to the Provincial Court, you will automatically be using the FLA.

Which court you go before will depend on what issues you are trying to settle.  The procedures in each court are different. Chapter 9 will discuss in detail these procedures. The next section will discuss in detail what each law says and will help you understand the laws you might use.