How Do I File an Agreement in Court?
Written agreements about most family law issues can be filed in the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court under the Family Law Act and the rules of court:
- agreements on parental responsibilities and parenting time can be filed under s. 44(3) of the Family Law Act,
- agreements on contact can be filed under s. 58(3),
- agreements on child support can be filed under s. 148(2), and
- agreements on spousal support can be filed under s. 163(3).
Agreements that are filed in court can be enforced as if they were orders of the court in which they are filed.
Among other things, this means that the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program can enforce an agreement for support exactly as it would enforce an order for support. Enforcement by FMEP is the usual reason why agreements are filed in court.
When there is an existing court proceeding
If a court proceeding has already been started, an agreement will normally be filed in the same court at same court registry where the proceeding was started. This helps to keep the whole court file together and prevents confusion about the status of the agreement and the status of the litigation.
If the action is in the Provincial Court, take one original copy of the agreement to the family law counter along with the file number of court proceeding. The court staff will help you with any paperwork. You don't need to see a judge or appear in court.
If the action is in the Supreme Court, take one original copy of the agreement to the family law counter along with something showing the style of cause of the court proceeding (the file number, the court registry, the name of the claimant and the name of the respondent). The court staff will give you a blank Requisition to fill out. You don't need to see a judge or appear in court.
When a court action hasn't been started
If there is no existing court action, it's up to you to decide where you'd like to file your agreement. Since FMEP will enforce an agreement whether it's filed in the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court, it's usually easiest just to go the courthouse nearest you.
All you need to take to the courthouse is one original copy of the agreement. The court staff will open a court file for the agreement and help you with any paperwork.
Finding out if your agreement has been filed
It can be a bit tricky to find out if an agreement has been filed in court or not, since there's no requirement that agreements be filed or that agreements that are filed be filed in the same court registry as any court proceedings between the parties to the agreement.
If there is an existing court action, go the court registry where the litigation began and ask to see the court file. Because family law files are sealed from the general public you'll need to bring some photo ID.
If there isn't an existing court action, you'll need to make at least two stops:
- First, go to the local Provincial Court to ask the staff to do a province-wide search to see if a Provincial Court file has been opened in your name and the name of the other party.
- Second, go to the closest Supreme Court to do the same search of Supreme Court files. You can also do the Supreme Court search using Court Services Online (https://justice.gov.bc.ca/cso/index.do), but you won't be able to get any details of the court file other than that one exists.
For more information
You can find more information about family law agreements in the chapter Family Law Agreements.
|The above was last reviewed for legal accuracy by Beatrice McCutcheon, July 5, 2017.|
|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.|