22 April 2012

New Court Form Templates Posted

I have posted templates on my website for the revised Supreme Court court forms which will come into effect on 25 April 2012. In the Resources & Links > The Courts, Court Forms & Case Law Resources chapter you will find templates for
  • Form F51, orders following chambers applications
  • Form F52, final orders, including divorce orders
  • Form F54, restraining orders
In the downloads segment of the Marriage & Divorce > Divorce chapter, you'll find updated templates for a number of forms used in the do-it-yourself desk order process:
  • Form F38, divorce affidavit
  • Form F37, child support affidavit
  • Form F52, divorce order
All divorce forms are available for both the sole divorce process, where only one spouse manages the application, and the joint divorce process, where the spouses apply for the divorce together.

Update: 28 April 2012

Sample versions of the new court forms for the desk order divorce process are now available in the Marriage & Divorce > Divorce chapter of my website.

Update: 30 April 2012

I have learned, from an acquaintance of mine who does a lot of work with government on family law issues, that the new court forms don't work particularly well in the fillable PDF format available from the Ministry of Justice. Apparently, because the forms are fillable PDFs designed let you check boxes and fill in blanks, the instructions to delete inapplicable paragraphs are impossible to carry out.

Not to worry. According to my acquaintance, who has the information straight from Court Services Branch, the unused paragraphs don't appear in the printed version of the forms.

16 April 2012

New Legislation Will End Limitation Period for Claims on Arrears of Support

The provincial government today introduced new legislation to replace the Limitation Act. The proposed legislation, Bill 34, will tidy up a lot of the complexities of the current act and, along the way, repeal the limitation period presently governing actions for the enforcement of arrears of child support and spousal support.

Under ss. 3(1) and 46 of the new legislation, no limitation will apply to claims for arrears accumulating under a court order, or under an agreement filed in court pursuant to ss. 121 or 122 of the Family Relations Act or ss. 148 or 163 of the Family Law Act; once arrears have accumulated, they can always be enforced. Payors beware!

14 April 2012

Supreme Court Protocol for Case Planning in High Conflict Cases

I have learned that the Supreme Court of British Columbia has developed a protocol for the appointment of case planning judges in high conflict family law cases. This process helps to address a gap between the Supreme Court Civil Rules which provide for case planning conferences, and the appointment of a case planning judge to actively manage a case through to trial, and the Supreme Court Family Rules which do not.

The protocol borrows somewhat from civil Practice Direction 4, "Case Planning and Judicial Management of Actions," and provides that a party may address the appointment of a case planning judge at the initial Judicial Case Conference. If the judge or master hearing the JCC agrees that the appointment is appropriate, the judge or master will make a recommendation, with reasons, to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. If the Chief Justice agrees, which I expect would be the case with most recommendations, a case planning judge will be appointed.

If a case has already been through the JCC process and contested applications have been heard, a party may request a JCC for the purposes of addressing the appointment of a case planning judge through trial scheduling. (With such requests, trial scheduling will book a half hour instead of the usual hour and a half.) At the JCC, the requesting party will explain why the appointment would be appropriate, and the JCC judge will make a recommendation to the Chief Justice if he or she agrees.

As an alternative, counsel may write to the Chief Justice through trial scheduling to request that at a case planning judge be appointed, but the JCC approach is preferred. (In my view, requests of this nature should be reserved for circumstances in which the attendance of the parties at the JCC, as is usually required, would be significantly inconvenient or put a party at risk, or where the request for the appointment is made with the agreement of both parties.) Remember that correspondence with the court in family law matters is governed by civil Practice Direction 27, "Corresponding with the Court."

07 April 2012

Modest Changes to Supreme Court Rules and Forms

Pursuant to an Order in Council made on 29 March 2012, certain changes to the Supreme Court Family Rules and the forms prescribed by the rules will come into effect on 25 April 2012. The changes are minor and aim to clean up a few of the court forms and make it easier to schedule Trial Management Conferences.
  • Rule 14-3 will be amended to allow judges or masters to conduct Trial Management Conferences. Under the current rule, only judges may hear these conferences.
  • Forms F37 and F38, the affidavits used in the desk order divorce process, will require you to delete unnecessary text, including the instructions provided in the forms.
  • Forms F51 (Order Made After Application), F52 (Final Order), F54 (Restraining Order) and F85 (Order for Indigent Status) will require you to delete unnecessary text, including the instructions provided in the forms.
Order in Council 192 has not yet been published. A summary and explanation of the changes can be found in the Supreme Court's announcement of 3 April 2012.

I will update the court form templates and sample forms available on my website before the changes take effect. The orders can be found in the chapter Resources & Links > The Courts in the Supreme Court section; the affidavits can be found after my description of the do-it-yourself divorce process in Marriage & Divorce > Divorce.