How Do I Find an Order or Another Court Document?

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This information is for people who have already been to court and need to find a copy of a document prepared in that court proceeding, such as a court order or an affidavit.

There is no central registry for court records and documents. To get a copy of a court document you must go to the particular court that dealt with your proceeding, since that's the court registry that will have your file.

Family law files are sealed from the general public, except for lawyers and the parties to the proceeding. Make sure you bring some photo ID. If you no longer live near the court that dealt with your proceeding, it may be possible to have someone who lives there pick it up for you. That person will need, at a minimum, a letter from you authorizing him or her to search your court file. Check with the court registry to find out exactly what they'll need to see to before to release your file to someone other than you.

There are a few other things that are good to know:

  • the court will not let you take your file out of the courthouse,
  • the court will not let you take a document from your file but you can get a photocopies made (be warned, copying is $1 per page in the Supreme Court),
  • the court will only have files that are less than three or so years old available at hand,
  • files that are three to seven years old may be in on-site storage, and there will be a delay of a few hours before the court can get the file for you, and
  • files older than seven or so years are usually stored off-site, and there will be a delay of a few days while the file is retrieved.
This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by JP Boyd, March 24, 2013.


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.