How Do I Find My Ex?

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

In general, people need to find their ex for two reasons:

  • because they want to start a court proceeding and need to find their ex to serve them with the papers that begin the proceeding, or
  • to begin enforcing an order relating to child support or spousal support.

Private services[edit]

The fastest but most expensive way to find someone is to hire a skip tracer. Skip tracers are people that are usually hired by creditors to find someone who's left town to avoid a debt, but they'll also take private contracts to find someone. Private investigators can also provide this sort of service, but generally PIs have more practice at finding information rather than people.

Public services[edit]

The Ministry of Justice has a search service that can help you to find someone when you need to enforce a court order or a separation agreement that has been filed in court that deals with:

  • child support,
  • spousal support,
  • guardianship of a child,
  • parental responsibilities and parenting time in respect of a child, or
  • contact with a child.

The Ministry of Justice's service may be slow, but it has some fairly long arms. In addition to searching provincial records, they can also search federal data banks. To use their service, contact your local Provincial Court and ask them to submit a search request for you.


The explosive growth of the internet has resulted in a heck of a lot of information being readily available, sometimes in ways people don't think of. If you're looking for someone on the net, try an internet search using the person's first and last names, in quotes, like this:

"John Doe"


"J Doe"

The quote marks force the search engine to look for that exact phrase, which increases the likelihood that you'll find the person you're looking for. If you have an idea of where the person might be, add that to your search phrase, but put it outside the quotes, like this:

"John Doe" Kamloops


"John Doe" "British Columbia"

You could also try one of these services:

  •, one of the best search engines around,
  •, a Canada-wide phone book, or
  •, which allows you to find a person by looking up their phone number or address.

Avoid pay services operated out of the United States, especially those that want you to enter your credit card number on their website. They may not be able to search within Canada.

For more information[edit]

You can find more information about starting an action in the chapter Resolving Family Law Problems in Court within the section Starting a Court Proceeding in a Family Matter, and about enforcing orders within the section Enforcing Orders in Family Matters.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Thomas Wallwork, May 9, 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, 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."

A 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."

Money 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.

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.

A sum of money or an obligation owed by one person to another. A "debtor" is a person responsible for paying a debt; a "creditor" is the person to whom the debt is owed.

In law, to formally deliver documents to a person in a manner that complies with the applicable rules of court. Service may be ordinary (mailed or delivered to a litigant's address for service), personal (hand-delivered to a person), or substituted (performed in a way other than the rules normally require). See "address for delivery," "ordinary service," "personal service," and "substituted service."

A contract intended to resolve all or some of the legal issues arising from the breakdown of a relationship and intended to guide the parties in their dealings with one another thereafter. A typical separation agreement is signed following a settlement reached through negotiations, and deals with issues including guardianship, parenting arrangements, contact, support, the division of property, and the division of debt. See "family law agreements."

A person who is younger than the legal age of majority, 19 in British Columbia. See "age of majority."

A 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."

A 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."

A 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."

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.

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