06 October 2012

Family Law Act: Changes to Rules of Court

The Ministry of Justice, in its increasingly useful webpage on the new Family Law Act, has posted information about changes to the Supreme Court Family Rules and the Provincial Court (Family) Rules that will come into effect on 18 March 2013 at the same time as the new legislation.

Rule Changes

The amendments to both courts' rules include:
  • implementing the new terminology used by the Family Law Act (for example, parental responsibilities, parenting time and parentage tests);
  • addressing the new concepts introduced in the act (for example, parenting coordination, conduct orders and protection orders); 
  • addressing new processes established by the act (for example, the enforcement of orders and applications to enforce or set aside the determinations of parenting coordinators); and,
  • deleting reference to concepts not carried forward by the act (for example, restraining orders, parental support and declarations of irreconcilability).
Provincial Court Rules

Additional amendments are made to the Provincial Court (Family) Rules, unrelated to the new legislation, largely to correct minor errors and inconsistencies and improve to overall clarity of the rules. Among the more significant amendments are:
  • allowing service by email;
  • allowing service of applications outside British Columbia;
  • requiring addresses for service when filing applications and motions;
  • allowing lawyers to search court files; and,
  • allowing the electronic filing of documents.
Consequential changes are made to the forms required by the rules, including those used to commence and reply to a court proceeding, the form used to commence a motion and financial statements. According to an announcement from the Attorney General, a more complete overhaul of the rules is anticipated at some point in the relatively near future, perhaps in 2013 or 2014.

For the exact details of the current changes to the rules and forms, read the Order in Council (PDF) that will implement the changes. For a general introduction, read the ministry's overview (PDF).

Supreme Court Rules

Additional amendments to the Supreme Court Family Rules include:
  • requiring personal service of applications to set aside agreements; and,
  • addressing and assessing awards of expenses.
Consequential changes are made to the forms required by the rules, including those used to commence and reply to a court proceeding, the form used to commence a motion, the forms used for restraining orders, financial statements and the forms used in the divorce process.

For the exact details of the changes to the rules and forms, read the Order in Council (PDF) that will implement the changes. For a general introduction, read the ministry's overview (PDF).

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