How Do I Change Something in My Response to Family Claim or Counterclaim?

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

The pleadings[edit]

Pleadings are the documents that start a court proceeding or reply to a court proceeding. For the person who starts a family law proceeding, the claimant, this is:

  1. Notice of Family Claim,

and sometimes also:

  1. Response to Counterclaim.

For the person who is replying to a court proceeding, the respondent, these documents are usually:

  1. Response to Family Claim
  2. Counterclaim

Sometimes a party's pleadings need to be changed, or amended. Usually, a change is required because a fact is wrong, like a date or a name. At other times, a change is required to raise a new defence or to make a new claim.

For example, say a spouse had a job when an action started and then lost it halfway through the case. If that spouse now needs spousal support but didn't make that claim in their Notice of Family Claim, they would need to amend their pleadings to include the new claim.

The rules[edit]

Pleadings are important because they describe the basic nuts and bolts of a party's claim or defence, and the facts that are said to support the claim or defence. They are the foundation of the court proceeding and the basis upon which each party will prepare for trial. As a result, there are special rules about amending pleadings. These are set out in Rule 8-1 of the Supreme Court Family Rules.

Firstly, you can't just amend your pleadings when you feel like it:

  • under Rule 8-1(1)(a), you can make one set of changes, however major or minor, at any time before the Notice of Trial has been filed,
  • under Rule 8-1(1)(b), you can make another set of changes with the written consent of the other party, and
  • to make changes in any other circumstances, you'll first need to get the court's permission.

Secondly, you must mark all of your amendments. All of the changes are to be underlined to make it obvious exactly what's been changed. When a lot of text has been changed, say the size of a whole paragraph or more, the lines can be made to run up the left and right sides of the amended text instead of under each and every line of text.

Next, the title of the changed document always starts with the word Amended, such as the Amended Notice of Family Claim or the Amended Counterclaim, to distinguish the new, changed document from the original. When an amended document is amended again, the title of the new document begins with the phrase Further Amended, as in the Further Amended Notice of Family Claim.

You'll also need to change add some information to the top of the first page to indicate why you were able to change your pleadings, and when the original document was filed. For example, for a change made before delivery of the Notice of Trial, you would write:

"Amended pursuant to Rule 8-1(1)(a).
Original filed on 25 October 2012."

Finally, you must file the amended documents in the court registry where the action was started. You must then serve the new pleadings on the other side by ordinary service within seven days.

For more information[edit]

You can find more information about Supreme Court procedure in the chapter Resolving Family Law Problems in Court within the section Replying to a Court Proceeding in a Family Matter.


This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Bill Murphy-Dyson, July 4, 2017.


Creativecommonssmall.png JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.

Normally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court" and "Supreme Court of Canada."

A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a court proceeding. Small Claims Court, for example, cannot deal with claims larger than $25,000, and Family Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."

A legal proceeding in which one party sues another for a specific remedy or relief, also called an "action," a "lawsuit" or a "case." A court proceeding for divorce, for example, is a proceeding in which the claimant sues the respondent for the relief of a divorce order.

In law, an answer or rebuttal to a claim made or a defence raised by the other party to court proceeding or legal dispute. See "action," "claim," "defence" and "rebut."

In law, the whole of the conduct of a court proceeding, from beginning to end, and the steps in between; may also be used to refer to a specific hearing or trial. See "action."

The person who starts a court proceeding seeking an order for specific remedy or relief against another person, the respondent. See "action" and "respondent."

A legal document required by the Supreme Court Family Rules to begin a court proceeding, setting out the relief claimed by the claimant and the grounds on which that relief is claimed. See "action," "claim," "claimant," "pleadings" and "relief."

A legal document required by the Supreme Court Family Rules in which a respondent sets out a claim for a specific remedy or relief against a claimant. See "Notice of Family Claim" and "Response to Family Claim."

The person against whom a claim has been brought by Notice of Family Claim. See “application” and “Notice of Family Claim."

A legal document required by the Supreme Court Family Rules in which the respondent to a court proceeding sets out their reply to the claimant's claim and the grounds for their reply. See "action," claim," "Notice of Family Claim" and "pleadings."

In law, a person named as an applicant, claimant, respondent or third party in a court proceeding; someone asserting a claim in a court proceeding or against whom a claim has been brought. See "action" and "litigant."

A reply, a rebuttal, an answer to a court proceeding or an application; a statement as to why a particular claim or application should not succeed.

The assertion of a legal right to an order or to a thing; the remedy or relief sought by a party to a court proceeding.

Under the Divorce Act, either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the Family Law Act, married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship."

A court proceeding in which one party sues another for a specific remedy or relief, also called a "lawsuit" or a "case." An action for divorce, for example, is a court proceeding in which the claimant sues the respondent for the relief of a divorce order.

In law, a court proceeding; a lawsuit; an action; a cause of action; a claim. Also the historic decisions of the court. See "action," "case law, " "court proceeding," and "precedent."

Money paid by one spouse to another spouse either as a contribution toward the spouse's living expenses or to compensate the spouse for the economic consequences of decisions made by the spouses during their relationship.

To change or alter a pleading or document that has already been filed in court or given to the other party. The resulting document is a separate document from the original and is called, for example, the "amended Notice of Family Claim" or the "amended separation agreement."

The testing of the claims at issue in a court proceeding at a formal hearing before a judge with the jurisdiction to hear the proceeding. The parties present their evidence and arguments to the judge, who then makes a determination of the parties' claims against one another that is final and binding on the parties unless appealed. See "action," "appeal," "argument," "claim," "evidence" and "jurisdiction."

Sending legal documents to a party at that party's "address for service," usually by mail, fax or email, called "ordinary service" in proceedings before the Supreme Court. Certain documents, like a Notice of Family Claim, must be served on the other party by personal service. Most other documents may be served by ordinary service. See also "address for service" and "personal service."

A central office, located in each judicial district, at which the court files for each court proceeding in that district are maintained, and at which legal documents can be filed, searched, and reviewed.

Sending legal documents to a party at that party's "address for service," usually by mail, fax or email. Certain documents, like a Notice of Family Claim, must be served on the other party by personal service. Most other documents may be served by ordinary service. See also "address for service" and "personal service."

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