BC Provincial Court Family Process
Early Resolution & Case Management Registries
Implementing in Surrey and Victoria on Dec. 7, 2020
The Provincial Court of BC and Ministry of Attorney General have been working together to modernize the Provincial Court Family Rules.
On December 7, 2020, the Early Resolution and Case Management process model is being implemented in Surrey and Victoria after being prototyped in Victoria since 2019. The early resolution and case management process is designed to encourage parties to resolve family disputes by agreement or to help them obtain just and timely decisions in Provincial Court. The amended rules BC Reg. 525/2020 will apply to matters under the Family Law Act (FLA) in these two designated registries.
The early resolution and case management process introduces early resolution requirements for family law matters proceeding through Provincial Court. In the designated registries, people who want to resolve family law matters (parenting arrangements, child support, spousal support, contact with a child or guardianship of a child) will use this process.
Where appropriate, and not otherwise exempted, the process requires a party to meet early resolution requirements before filing an application about a family law matter. The requirements include: filing a notice to resolve and providing a copy of the notice to the other party, participating in a needs assessment with a family justice counsellor, completing a parenting education program and, if appropriate, participating in at least one consensual dispute resolution session. All other parties must also have met the early resolution requirements before filing a reply to an application about a family law matter.
If the parties have issues that can’t be resolved consensually with the help of a family justice counsellor or child support officer, a privately hired family mediator or a collaborative family law practitioner, they can ask the court for help by filing and serving an application about a family law matter.
The new process also introduces the family management conference, which is an informal, time-limited appearance scheduled before a judge, replacing the traditional first appearance. During this conference, the judge will further assist people to identify issues to be resolved and explore options for resolution. The judge may make certain interim orders, orders with the parties’ consent, case management orders to assist the parties in getting disclosure or otherwise assist with resolution and/or readiness for a hearing or trial, as well as conduct orders to manage interactions between the parties.
Note that the amended rules include a process for seeking orders related to protection orders under the FLA and priority parenting matters (which are defined in Rule 5.01) on a time sensitive basis.