Victoria Early Resolution & Case Management Model
The Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model was started in 2019 as a new process in the Provincial Court Rules. It is designed to encourage parties to resolve family disputes by agreement or to help them obtain just and timely decisions in Provincial Court.
What is the Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management process?
The new process applies to issues under the Family Law Act and introduces early resolution requirements for family law matters proceeding through Provincial Court in the Victoria registry. Family law matters are defined as: child support, spousal support, parenting arrangements (parenting time and parenting responsibilities), contact and guardianship.
In addition to the early resolution requirements, the new process introduces a family management conference which will replace first appearance and provide increased case management. This will help with further dispute resolution and help ensure parties are prepared if they need to proceed to trial.
There are a number of other changes including new, more user friendly forms and improved processes for things like orders by consent and case management orders.
The process has been designed to build knowledge and support active resolution of issues where possible as well as helping the parties prepare for next steps.
How did this change come about?
The Ministry of Attorney General and the Provincial Court are working together on a project to reform the Provincial Court (Family) Rules. As a first step towards implementation of this work, some of the key policy changes recommended are being incorporated into the Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model that will be refined and evaluated in the Victoria Provincial Court registry.
Who will use the new process and when does it start?
People who want to resolve Family Law Act matters, such as child support, spousal support, parenting time, contact or guardianship at the Provincial Court in Victoria will use the Early Resolution and Case Management Model process starting May 13, 2019.
Victoria is the only court location in the province that will use the new process at this time.
Those who have filed an application for an order or notice of motion prior to May 13, 2019 will continue under the previous process. Please note that as of June 1, 2020, some small changes have been made to the rules and forms, but the overall process remains the same.
For more information see the Justice Access Centre or a lawyer, who can help you understand the best process for a particular dispute.
What if I need to get a court order right away for something like a Protection Order?
The Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model includes a process for seeking protection orders or extraordinary parenting matters on a time sensitive basis. In those cases a judge will hear those matters first and if there are outstanding family law matters families will still use the early resolution and case management process. There are also some processes and orders that will use new forms under this model but they will not require early assessment or consensual dispute resolution: enforcement, relocation, and matters that are proceeding by consent. The Justice Access Centre can help a person to identify their needs, get referrals to community resources and get help with the paperwork to file an application for a court order.
If you feel that you cannot comply with the early resolution requirements, talk to the Justice Access Centre about your options.
What is the new process most people will follow?
Most people will use the Early Resolution and Case Management process for their child support, spousal support, parenting time, contact or guardianship matters. You can learn more about each step of the process and the forms [here], but generally, the process will involve:
- Starting at the Justice Access Centre (JAC) to get information about your options, the process and how to access legal advice and other resources.
- Filing a form called the Notice to Resolve at the Victoria Provincial Court Registry.
- Contacting the JAC to make an appointment for your individual needs assessment.
- Complete the Parenting After Separation program unless you have completed it within the last two years or meet one of the few exemptions (the JAC staff can identify for you if an exemption applies).
- Complete an individual needs assessment with a Family Justice Counsellor at the JAC.
- Participate in at least one consensual dispute resolution session (including any required preparation for the session), if appropriate.
- When issues are resolved you can formalize your agreements by written agreement or consent order.
- If there are still issues that need to be resolved, and you need the Court’s help, file a form called the Family Law Matter Claim with all your supporting documents and serve it on the other party.
- When you and the other party (or parties) have replied or the time for reply has passed,work with the Judicial Case Manager to schedule a Family Management Conference.
- At the Family Management Conference, you and the other party (or parties) will meet with a judge.
The new process supports earlier and more durable resolutions, which reduces conflict and builds skills that can help prevent future conflict. Most participants will benefit from the new process. Each step has been designed to support opportunities to resolve issues and help prepare the parties for next steps.
Will the new process cost families more?
There is no cost for accessing the new process.
As with the current process, the Justice Access Centre will provide legal information, needs assessment, referrals and consensual dispute resolution services free of charge. People with low income may be eligible for free limited legal advice through Legal Services Society services such as: Duty Counsel, Family Advice Lawyers, or the Family Law LINE. Parties may choose to hire a lawyer and they may hire a private family mediator or participate in a collaborative law agreement with a collaborative family law professional.
If you would like more information, you may be interested in:
- Overview of the Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model: This paper describes the model in more detail.
- Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model Explained (Updated: June 1, 2020): This provides a section by section explanation of the new rules.
- Victoria Early Resolution and Case Management Model process map: This is a detailed map of the process