Provincial Or Supreme Court | Family Law Issues?

Provincial Or Supreme Court?

Provincial Or Supreme Court

Many people that are self represented (don’t have a family lawyer) ask us if they should file in provincial or supreme court. Family law is unique in that both courts can hear family law disputes.


This article was written for BC, but much of the information will apply if you are in Ontario. In BC they call the upper court Supreme Court, and in Ontario they call it Superior Court. Also, in BC they call it “applications” to the court, and in Ontario they call it “motions.”


Firstly, both courts have difference systems and rules, so it’s important to do your research. Therefore, we suggest hiring a family law if you can afford it to help. If you cannot afford it, we suggest hiring a lawyer for self represented coaching. This means that you only pay for the lawyer’s time that you use. Therefore, you can ask questions and get legal advice.


The first step is to see if you need to go to court at all. If you can settle without going to court, it’s going to be much cheaper and faster. Most couples can come to a separation agreement. Also, they can agree to the terms and then get a family law firm to create the agreement. Further, once the separation agreement is done, they can file it in the court.

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You Don’t Always Get To Pick Which Court


If you want to update an order, you will have to go back to the court where you made an order. Normally once you start something in one court, you can’t switch to the other. However, the Supreme Court does hear appeals from the Provincial Court.


Provincial Or Supreme Court For My Family Law Issue??


Basically, you can do anything in the Supreme Court, but only certain things in the Provincial Court.



Supreme Court: Either Court:
  • Get a divorce
  • Child custody order
  • Child access order
  • Dividing your assets
  • Dividing your debts
  • Adoption approval or battle
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Guardianship order
  • Parenting time
  • Restraining order



Supreme Court is like… Provincial Court is like…
  • everything is strict and old school
  • only locations in certain places
  • countless forms to fill out with very strict rules and fines for doing things wrong
  • very few people self-represented due to how complex it is
  • filing fees which can be around $200
  • people can be charged costs if they lose their case
  • more modern and common
  • most cities have a court
  • not much paperwork
  • everything is more open-minded
  • a mix of lawyers and self-represented people
  • no fees to file forms
  • can only be reimbursed expenses but not costs

In conclusion, if you want to learn more about law, see our videos.