9.1 Provincial (Family) Court Process


Guide: Family Law in BC Step by step guide on the provincial process

Forms: You can access the court forms online at Ministry of Justice

Rules: Provincial Court Family Rules


Steps to the Provincial Process

If you’re headed to Provincial Court, you should remember that you can only use the Family Law Act and not the Divorce Act for your family claim. Provincial Court deals with parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support, and protection orders. If you want to deal with property issues or get a divorce, you must go to Supreme Court.

Once you’ve decided to file a claim in provincial court, there will be multiple steps before you reach a trial. Remember, you can come to an agreement with your former spouse at any time, even though you are in the middle of a court case.  In fact, very few cases ever make it to trial. Most cases will settle by coming to a settlement agreement or a consent order (this is an order you and your former spouse both agree to and ask the judge to make).  

As of May 2021, the Provincial Court Family rules, processes, and forms have changed significantly. Depending on your registry you will have different requirements to fulfill before you will appear in court on most issues. 

Here are some of the steps you may need to take as you can see on the flowchart.  


  1. Early Resolution steps (if required)
  2. Application about a family law matter - file, serve, reply
  3. Family Management Conference 
  4. Family Settlement Conference (if required)
  5. File and serve a Trial Readiness Statement 
  6. Trial Preparation Conference (if required)
  7. Trial

The exchange of documents occurs throughout the process. You can also make other types of applications to help manage your case or that are urgent throughout the process, you'll learn more about this later this chapter. Along the other side you can see that you can reach a settlement at any point throughout the process. Refer to Chapters 3 and 5 to learn more about reaching agreements.

You may not need to go through every step since certain steps only apply to certain situations. Let’s take a closer look at each step.