Knowing whether Supreme Court of Provincial Court is better suited to resolving your family law case might save you time, money, and stress. The procedure each court uses to resolve claims is an important factor in getting a fair and fast result. Below are six important similarities and differences between Provincial and Supreme Court.
Disclaimer (Important!! Read this to understand what follows): this content provided on a use at your own risk basis, and on the terms described here. There are a number of reasons what you read/see/hear (the “Content”) in this content should not be taken at face value. Those are given in more detail here, and include that (1) the Content author(s) may have been joking, (2) the Content author(s) may have presented a mix of theory and fact as if it was fact, (3) how the law applies to a situation is uncertain until a judgment is pronounced, (4) the Content author(s) may have been wrong or not fully up-to-date, (5) the Content is not tailored to your situation, and (6) part of the Content may have been exaggerated. Never rely on what you find here as your only source of information, and before making any decision you are urged to make sure that the information you are basing that decision on is correct; often this can be accomplished by ensuring that several independent, well-respected sources agree. The posts on this blog are, at best, intended to get you pointed in the right direction for further research, not give you a final answer. The best way to make sure what you are doing is correct is to consult a lawyer. The reasons for the above can be found here (http://bhastings.com/blog/disclaimer/), and you should definitely read that page because it provides indispensable context for the content on this blog. In the event we link to external content, you should read any disclaimers associated with that information for the same reasons. If you do rely on this blog in taking any course of action, we don’t assume any liability for that for the reasons above and contained in the above links.
1) Both Provincial and Supreme Court procedure require someone to start an action
In Supreme Court, someone generally files a Notice of Family Claim to start an action. In Provincial Court, this is a Notice of Motion. The forms are slightly different, but they basically fulfill the same purpose.
2) Both Provincial Court and Supreme Court procedure require parties to provide financial disclosure
In Supreme Court, both parties complete a Form F8 Financial Statement to first disclose their assets, income, debts, and other assorted financial matters. In Provincial Court, this is a Form 4. Both documents fulfill essentially the same purpose.
3) Document production in Supreme Court is a more formal part of the Rules of Court
In Supreme Court, both parties have to complete a Form F20 List of Documents, which is essentially geared at providing everything to the other party that is relevant to the case. Technically, section 5 of the Family Law Act, says that both parties have to disclose that information anyway, but Supreme Court procedure has a built-in mechanism to make that happen.
4) Supreme Court and Provincial Court can punish misbehaving parties
The Family Law Act contains provisions for orders which allow the court to punish non-compliant parties, especially parties who are frustrating the conduct of an action. Either court may use these provisions to punish misbehaving parties, and have done so in the event someone is frustrating the court process.
5) The loser in Supreme Court pays the winner (usually)
Although both courts can punish misbehaving parties under the Family Law Act, Supreme Court procedure also automatically considers if it should award “costs” against a losing party. These costs have nothing to do with any misbehavior, and are instead aimed at encouraging settlement (instead of court hearings to decide matters). These costs are almost never legal fees, and usual amounts for costs are contained in a Schedule to Appendix B of the Supreme Court Family Rules. In an action with a two-week trial, costs can easily be tens of thousands of dollars.
6) Provincial Court requires “parenting after separation”
Parenting after separation (PAS) is a free course offered for separating parents when children are involved. You can learn more about PAS here, but it generally helps people understand how to be a good parent after separation. Occasionally, a very difficult parent will change their behavior significantly after taking PAS. The Supreme Court will order parties to take PAS, but this generally only happens after an action has been launched at a Judicial Case Conference (JCC).
There are other considerations (besides procedure) in choosing whether to go through Provincial or Supreme Court: check out our article on the top differences between what orders a court can grant here.
Brandon D. Hastings (bhastings.com) is a lawyer and mediator. He is an access to justice advocate, believes in settlement-focused litigation, and provides unbundled services where appropriate. To get in touch, visit bhastings.com/contact, or call (778) 244-8480.