After you have presented your case at a hearing or trial, the master or judge will make a decision and state the court order. An order is the recording of the master or judge’s decision. It is filed at the court registry. The most common orders that separating couples going to court will face are orders they receive after their interim application hearing.
Court orders can either be interim orders (they apply for a specific period of time) or final orders (they have no end date).
Court orders are binding on both parties.
Interim orders are made by a court after an interim hearing. (E.g. you get an interim order for child support to be paid during the time before your trial date when child support is to be determined.) Some interim orders have an expiry date on them while other continue until you get another order. Even though interim orders may be for a shorter period of time they are very important. Interim order may set a standard which becomes harder to change when you make it to trial. If there is an interim order for parenting time that has been in place and is working it will be difficult to persuade the trial judge to change it. Therefore you should always be well prepared for your interim application hearing so that your interim order reflects your needs and sets a baseline for future decisions.
If your interim order does not have an expiry date on it and it is working for you, you do not need to apply for a final order. The interim order will continue to be in effect.
After a trial, the judge’s decision and state the court order. Final orders apply to both parties for a defined or undefined period of time. A final order can also be made whenever both you and your former spouses agree to an order, known as a consent order.
Whether the judge rules in your favour or not, it is important that court orders be detailed. You may need to ask the judge to be specific, to help avoid future conflict. For example, the judge might order that the children spend holidays with each parent 50-50. It may be helpful to be clearer about what is meant by holidays. Is that statutory holidays? School holidays? The vacation holidays taken by each spouse? With a more detailed court order, there is less likely to be future conflict regarding interpretations of the order.
This may surprise you, but court orders are often not written by the judge. They are written by one of the parties in the dispute. The judge makes the decision that becomes the content of the court order, and usually, the side the order favours will write the court order.
In most cases, orders are written by lawyers. In the Provincial Court, if there is no lawyer representing the parties, a court clerk will usually write the order.
Regardless of who writes the court order, you should review it before it is submitted to the court registry. You need to be sure that the order has captured the intent of the judge’s decision. If you or your lawyer is not going to write the order, ask the judge to allow you to look over the order before it is filed. It is a good idea to get legal advice before you sign an order.
There are court forms for different court orders. For example for a Provincial Court consent order you would use Form 20, for an order made after a Supreme Court application you must use form 51. Check the Forms guide to see which form you should use.
Consent Order (Form F33): Used when both parties agree about what the order (final or interim) should say.
Order Made After Application (Form F51): Used for most types of contested orders made after a chambers application (interim orders and changed orders). A contested order is when the parties don't agree on what the order should say.
Final Order (Form F52): Used in undefended divorces and for orders after a trial.
Order Made at Judicial Case Conference (Form F51.1): Used when a court order is made at a Judicial Case Conference.
Protection Order (Form F54): Used for an order to protect against and prevent family violence.
You might write your order
For interim orders, you can ask for the orders you want in the Notice of Application or a draft order. If the judge or master agrees to the order, they may sign your draft order or initial your application, and that order or application becomes your court order.
1. Use the Family Law Act picklist. You can use it to guide you in what to ask the judge or to help you understand what the judge said.
For example if you are asking to have sole parental responsibilities for your children you can ask for a C1 which states “Under s.40(3)(a) of the FLA (your name) will have all the parental responsibilities for the children.”
If on the other hand the judge ordered a K1. You would use the language of K1 and write in your order “(name) will complete, file with the Registry of this Court, and deliver to (name) a sworn Financial Statement in Form 4 of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules, including all attachments listed on page 2 of that Form by (due date).” Remember to account for any changes or additions a judge might make to a picklist order.
2. For multiple orders, each order must be in a separate numbered paragraph.
3. Be clear. The order should reflect the court’s decision exactly. It should state who does what, to whom, when, and if stated where or for how long.
4. If you have orders relating to parenting or support, show if it’s made under the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act
5. If you're not sure what the judge ordered, you can:
To learn more about this see the BC Ministry of Justice website.
6. Review Chapter 8 to learn about legal writing.
7. You can have a lawyer review your court order and seek their advice. Refer to Chapter 4 for more on how to get professional help on legal issues.
Don’t: Jane Doe will pay child support of $800 a month.
Do: Jane Doe will pay to Jon Doe the sum of $800 per month for the support of the child, Alex Doe born July 22, 2000, commencing on September 1st 2065 and continuing on the first day of each and every month thereafter, for as long as the children are eligible for support under the Family Law Act or until further Court order.
Once you’ve written an order, you must give it to the other party, who was at the hearing or trial, to sign. You do not need to get the signature of a party who wasn't at the hearing and didn't agree to the order.
Neither you nor the other party can refuse to sign an order because you don’t like it. But you can refuse to sign an order that does not accurately reflect what the judge said.
Once signed, the order must be taken to the court registry where it will be checked for accuracy. If accurate, it will be entered and stamped. Get a copy of it and make one for the other party. This is your court order that can be enforced if it is not followed.
Take a look at the Court Order Checklist for guidance on what to include in your court order.