When Can I Get Into Court?


Many times family lawyers are asked by clients when they can expect to get into court.  Once you start your court action by filing your Notice of Family Claim, the trial can be months or sometimes years away, as the parties and the lawyers work on disclosure, negotiations, investigations, and finally trial preparation.  Most cases in my experience take just over a year to get to a trial.  Trial dates are typically set well in advance with both parties’ agreement and by consulting the court’s availability through the courthouse website or by contacting the courthouse registry.

In contrast, interim applications can require your appearance at court within weeks or even days of starting your court action.  Just a few examples of court orders that you might apply for in an interim application include: orders restraining the sale of family property, orders requiring disclosure of documents, orders restraining contact between the parties, orders for a parenting schedule for the time leading up to trial, and orders for the immediate payment of support.  The Provincial Court of British Columbia, the Supreme Court of British Columbia, and even the British Columbia Court of Appeal all have their own rules for how much notice you must give the opposing party.  For example, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, the time period is least at eight business days (not including the day you serve your notice and the day you attend the hearing), unless you get permission from the court to give shorter notice.

Most family law lawyers will make an effort to set down a court date that is convenient for both parties.  Whether you will get to court on an interim application early in your file will depend on the particular facts of your case.


*Nothing in this post constitutes legal advice and is for general informational purposes only.  To establish a solicitor-client relationship with Virginia K. Richards please contact her at Henderson Heinrichs LLP using the information on the Contact Page.

Limited Sittings in BC Supreme Court this Month


Every once in a while the justices of the Supreme Court of British Columbia have a reading break or a judges’ conference.  This week the New Westminster and Victoria locations will be limiting their court time, and next week there will be no judges or masters in Vancouver, Victoria or New Westminster on May 21, 22, or 23, except for emergency applications.

Why Get Legal Advice on Written Agreements?


Several times a year a family lawyer will meet with a client who has entered into a written agreement without first obtaining legal advice.  The failure to get legal advice before you sign an agreement can have significant consequences, as any of the following can happen:

You can bargain away too much – family law in British Columbia has changed significantly since the new Family Law Act came into force on March 18, 2013.  Even common law couples can have property claims.  It is better to fully understand your rights and exposure to risk before you sign.

Your agreement could be invalidated on a technicality – There are important protocols to follow when executing a written family law agreement. For example, your agreement should be signed by both parties in the presence of a witness.

The absence of advice could invalidate your agreement – one of the factors a court will consider on an application to set aside an agreement is whether both parties understood the nature and consequences of the agreement.  Where one party did not get independent legal advice, they may later be able to convince a court that they did not understand what they were signing.

You could overlook something important – family law agreements prepared without a lawyer often miss key clauses which would help the agreement operate properly. A family law lawyer will spot where a link in the chain is missing and correct it so that the agreement operates the way you want it to.

You may require more specialized advice – transferring assets and paying support sometimes has significant tax consequences.  For example, transferring an RRSP by way of spousal rollover defers the tax, but cashing in the RRSP to fund a settlement will attract a tax bill.  A family law lawyer will be able to identify those issues and determine whether you need tax advice.

You could be in a relationship with a power imbalance – power imbalances in relationships can be so pronounced that it impacts one spouse’s ability to negotiate effectively on their own behalf.  Sometimes those spouses will make an imprudent settlement just to resolve the matter and stop the arguing with their former spouse.  A lawyer will help you take an objective look at the proposed agreement and give you advice about what you are entitled to and what processes are available to you (eg., mediation, litigation) to resolve your family law dispute.


*Nothing in this post constitutes legal advice and is for general informational purposes only.  To establish a solicitor-client relationship with Virginia K. Richards please contact her at Henderson Heinrichs LLP using the information on the Contact Page.

Welcome to Virginia K. Richards Family Law Blog!


file5771313069624After practicing British Columbia family law for over four years, and contributing to my law firm’s blog, I have decided to enter the blog world myself.  This blog will contain articles, case comments, and interesting information that I come across in my practice as a Vancouver family lawyer.