How Do I File an Agreement in Court?

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

Written agreements about most family law issues can be filed in the Provincial CourtA 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." or the Supreme Court under the Family Law Act and the rules of courtThe guidelines governing the court process and the conduct of litigation generally. Each court has its own rules of court.:

  • agreements on parental responsibilitiesA term under the ''Family Law Act'' which describes the various rights, duties and responsibilities exercised by guardians in the care, upbringing and management of the children in their care, including determining the child's education, diet, religious instruction or lack thereof, medical care, linguistic and cultural instruction, and so forth. See "guardian." and parenting timeA term under the ''Family Law Act'' which describes the time a guardian has with a child and during which is responsible for the day to day care of the child. See "guardian." can be filed under s. 44(3) of the Family Law Act,
  • agreements on contactA term under the ''Family Law Act'' that describes the visitation rights of a person who is not a guardian with a child. Contact may be provided by court order or by the agreement among the child's guardians who have parental responsibility for determining contact. See "guardian" and "parental responsibilities." can be filed under s. 58(3),
  • agreements on child supportMoney paid by one parent or guardian to another parent or guardian as a contribution toward the cost of a child's living and other expenses. can be filed under s. 148(2), and
  • agreements on spousal supportMoney 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. 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 orderA mandatory direction of the court, binding and enforceable upon the parties to a court proceeding. An "interim order" is a temporary order made following the hearing of an interim application. A "final order" is a permanent order, made following the trial of the court proceeding or the parties' settlement, following which the only recourse open to a dissatisfied party is to appeal. See "appeal," "consent order," "decision" and "declaration." for support. Enforcement by FMEP is the usual reason why agreements are filed in court.

When there is an existing court proceedingA 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.

If a court proceeding has already been started, an agreement will normally be filed in the same court at same court registryA 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. where the proceedingIn 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." 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 actionA 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. 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 judgeA person appointed by the federal or provincial government to manage and decide court proceedings in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the parties, the government or agents of the government. The decisions of a judge are binding upon the parties to the proceeding, subject to appeal. or appear in court.

If the action is in the Supreme CourtNormally 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.", 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 claimantThe person who starts a court proceeding seeking an order for specific remedy or relief against another person, the respondent. See "action" and "respondent." and the name of the respondentThe person against whom a claim has been brought by Notice of Family Claim. See “application” and “Notice of Family Claim."). 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:

  1. 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 partyIn 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.".
  2. 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 (, 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.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Beatrice McCutcheon, July 5, 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.
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