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A Peace Bond made in criminal court pursuant to Section 810 of the Criminal Code.
These Peace Bonds include a Finding or Admission of Fact and can affect future family matters.
See also: Peace Bond.
The taking of a person by force or fraud. In family law, the taking of a child contrary to a court order or without the other parent's permission. In certain circumstances, this may also be a criminal act.
An absolute discharge may occur where the accused is found guilty or has pleaded guilty, but is deemed not to have been convicted of the criminal offence and no punishment or restrictions are placed upon them by the judge. Such a discharge cannot be given if the offence carries a minimum punishment, or is punishable for 14 years or greater.
The emotional, financial, physical, psychological, sexual or verbal maltreatment of a person or animal.
See also: Child Abuse;Economic/Financial Abuse; Elder (Senior) Abuse; Emotional Abuse; Physical Abuse; Psychological Abuse/Psychological Harassment; Sexual Abuse; Using the Children; Using the Court; and Verbal Abuse.
A term previously used in the Divorce Act for a parent's time with his or her children following the breakdown of the parents' relationship. Access usually refers to the visits of a child with the parent who doesn't have the child's primary residence. After March 1, 2021, a spouse’s time with the child is called parenting time. Someone who is not a spouse can have contact. See Parenting Time.
Access to the Courts
The opportunity or right of the public to watch court proceedings.
Taking responsibility for an action or decision.
The accused is the person charged with a criminal offence. Also known as the Defendant.
An acquittal is a court finding of not guilty.
An act is a law that has been passed by the federal or provincial legislature.
A law suit; a legal proceeding in which one party sues another for a remedy or specific relief. An action for divorce, for example, is a court proceeding in which the Claimant sues the Respondent for the relief of an order for the parties' divorce.
From the Latin, guilty act, actus reus (physical) refers to the actual doing of the criminal act which must co-exist with mens rea (mental) which refers to the intent to commit the act.
An adjournment is a temporary delay of court proceedings, often at the request of either Crown counsel or defence counsel, but at the discretion of the presiding judge.
Adjudication includes any of the forms of dispute resolution in which the parties present proofs and arguments to a neutral third party who has the power to deliver a binding decision.
The management of a business, organization or institution.
Usually three people who decide matters that are brought before them such a Worker's Compensation Claims.
Admissions of Fact
When an accused is on trial for an indictable offence, counsel for both the defence and Crown may agree upon a statement of facts, which are admitted into evidence. This procedure will often speed up the trial process by eliminating the need to call a witness.
In family law, the act or process of taking another person's natural child as one's own. The child then becomes the adopting parent's legal child as if the child were the adopting parent's natural child, while the natural parent loses all rights and obligations with respect to the child.
Adoption (Family Law)
In family law, the act or process of one person taking another person's natural child as his or her own. The child then becomes the adopting parent's legal child, as if the child were the adopting parent's natural child. The child's biological parent loses all rights and obligations with respect to the child.
The act of a married person voluntarily engaging in sexual intercourse with a person other than his or her spouse. (Infidelity/Cheating). Proof of adultery is grounds for an immediate divorce, providing that the other spouse has not consented to nor forgiven the adulterous act.
A legal document in which a person provides evidence of certain facts and events in writing, as if the evidence was given orally under oath. Affidavits must be notarized by a lawyer or notary public who takes the oath or affirmation of the person making the affidavit about the truth of its contents.
Affirm The Truth
To promise that a statement is true. When someone "swears" to tell the truth, they are considered to be taking an oath on their faith in a god. Affirming is a substitute for taking an oath, and is most often employed where person making the statement is an atheist or under a religious proscription from making oaths.
Age of Majority
The age at which a person legally becomes an adult, which means they can do such things as vote and enter into a binding contract. In BC, the age of majority is 19.
Every one commits an aggravated assault that wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the complainant.
Alienation has different meanings. It may refer to estrangement, whereby there is indifference or hostility where there was formerly love or affection; it may refer to the transfer of ownership of property; and it may refer to something being withdrawn, isolated or emotionally dissociated.
Alienation of Affections (Family Law)
In family law, alienation of affections may refer to the actions or statements of a parent which tend to sever, damage or harm the child's relationship with, or affections for, the other parent.
See Spousal Support
Alternative or extra-judicial measures are used most often for young offenders and provide an opportunity for a young person to avoid the formal justice system. They may include victim/offender reconciliation, community service, or payment of fines. Such programs are usually reserved for first time, non-violent offenders.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative Dispute Resolution is the use of arbitration, negotiation, mediation and out-of-court settlements as opposed to litigation in the resolution of legal disputes, especially those under civil law. In family law, the purpose of ADR is to offer a less conflict-oriented and/or less expensive way to resolve a dispute than litigation. See also Arbitration and Mediation.
The formal document charging criminal offences at the Provincial Court level.
A proceeding one can take to end an invalid marriage (For example, if one spouse was already married, or if the husband and wife found out they were brother and sister).
An appeal is an application for judicial review of a lower court's decision by a higher court. Either Crown counsel or defence counsel can appeal a decision, but there are specific legal requirements. Also see Appellant or Respondent.
An Appearance Notice is a document asking someone to go to Court. It may be given to the accused by the officer at the scene, when the accused has not been arrested, requiring the accused to appear before the Court on a certain date. It may also be given to a witness, asking them to come to court to testify in a trial.
The appellant is the party who has initiated an appeal to a higher court. In a criminal case this could be either Crown counsel or the accused. The other party is known as the Respondent.
In Provincial Court, the person commencing the action is called the Applicant. In Supreme Court, the person is called the Claimant.
A court appearance is scheduled in which the Crown or defence or one of the parties to a civil action makes an application to the Court (e.g. application to vary bail conditions).
Application to Obtain an Order
In Provincial Court, litigation is started with this application. In the Supreme Court, litigation is started with the Notice of Family Claim.
To select a person or a group of people for an official position or to do a job.
A dispute resolution process in which the parties pick the person who will resolve their dispute and agree to be bound by the arbitrator's decision.
A person selected by the parties to a dispute to resolve their dispute outside the court process and to whom the parties give the authority to impose a settlement.
After all evidence is tendered at a trial, Crown and defence are entitled to make submissions ("argument") to the Court. In jury trials this is called the closing address to the jury, or simply "the closing." The term also refers to submissions by counsel on legal issues that arise in relation to any matter before the courts.
Arraignment hearings are held to set the date of a trial.
In an arranged marriage, parents negotiate the marriage of their adult children, ideally for the benefit of both families. They are common in many countries. An arranged marriage is a consensual marriage; that is, both husband and wife have agreed to the marriage. It is not a forced marriage. If the husband or wife has not consented to be married, the marriage may not be legal in Canada. In an arranged marriage, the husband and wife have the same rights and responsibilities as they would in any marriage that is legally valid in Canada.
Arrears (Family Law)
In family law, arrears refers to spousal and/or child support that has not been paid (the payor - the person paying maintenance - has fallen behind in making his or her support payments).
Arrest Without Warrant
Before a charge is laid, the police have the power to arrest. For most indictable offences, a police officer can arrest without warrant if the officer on reasonable grounds believes that the person has committed or is about to commit an indictable offence. For all other offences, an officer can only arrest if s/he finds the accused committing the offence, the public cannot be served without arresting the individual and/or has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the arrest is necessary to ensure that the accused will appear in court.
Assault is a crime in which a person hits or physically hurts another person without consent, or threatens to hit or physically hurt them, and that person believes that he or she can or will do it.
Any item worth money that is owned by a person, especially if it could be converted to cash.
Bail is the financial or other security guarantee put up by the accused or by someone on the accused's behalf as an assurance that the accused will appear on the date of his/her trial.
A bail hearing is the process by which an accused person is released on bail pending his / her trial. Also see Judicial Interim Release, guardianship, and support.
The test that judges use when they make parenting arrangement decisions about children. The needs and well-being of the children are the most important factors. The judge must decide what is best for the children rather than what is best for the parents.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
In criminal cases, the Crown has to meet a standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The Crown must show that the evidence is so complete and convincing that the judge/jury has no reasonable doubts regarding the guilt of the accused.
Builder's legal claim on somebody's property as security for a debt.
Burden of Proof
In criminal law, the burden of proof usually refers to the onus on the Crown to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. The balance of probabilities is the burden of proof applicable to civil trials. Also see Balance of Probabilities and Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.
The law based on decisions by judges. Case law reflects how the courts interpret laws.
Also known as stare decisis and common law.
Certificate of Divorce (Divorce Certificate)
A certified copy of the Decree Absolute, which is the Order which grants a divorce.
Challenge for Cause
During jury selection, both the Crown and defence may make an unlimited number of challenges for cause. A challenge for cause is a challenge that must be proven on specific grounds, such as jury impartiality.
A name for a Supreme Court courtroom where applications (not trials) are heard.
Pre-trial matter heard before a judge or master of the court.
Change of Venue
If the court is satisfied that it is expedient to the ends of justice and/or an accused may not have a fair trial in the original venue (usually the courthouse nearest to where the alleged crime occurred), then upon application the Court may order that the trial be moved to another location. Often, pre-trial publicity will be advanced as a reason to change the venue.
The charge is the particular criminal offence alleged to have been committed by an accused which is contained on a sworn Information. The person remains charged with the offence until either conviction or acquittal or until the charges are stayed by Crown counsel.
The Crown Counsel's decision on whether or not to lay charges.
Charge to The Jury
During a Supreme Court judge and jury trial, the charge to the jury is the instructions given to the jury by the judge which summarize the case and explain the law, enabling the jury to apply the law to the facts of the case.
The head judge of all the courts in BC. Usually, it is a Court of Appeal judge.
In BC, a person under the age of 19.
Child support is the legal right of a child to receive financial support from his or her parents. That right exists whether or not the child's parents were ever married and whether or not they ever lived together. Step parents may also be required to pay Child Support. See also In Loco Parentis and Child Support Guidelines.
Child Support Guidelines
The Child Support Guidelines are the rules for calculating the amount one parent must pay to the other parent to help support their child or children. The Guidelines apply to all parents who are not together - whether they were married, lived in an opposite-sex or same-sex common-law relationship, or never lived together at all. The Guidelines also apply to step-parents who meet the legal requirements for being responsible to pay child support. The guidelines include a special rule for calculating the amount a step-parent must pay.
Child/Children of the Marriage
Someone who is less than 19 years old (the age of majority in BC), or a child who is 19 and older if the child cannot support him- or herself.
Children Who Witness Abuse Programs
These are community-based programs which provide individual and group counselling services for children who witness the abuse of a parent or other family member. These programs help children cope with, and heal from, the trauma of living in an abusive situation. Support is also provided to the parent who has been abused by their partner.
Circumstances or Particulars
Circumstances or particulars are information about the alleged offence, which is contained in the Crown file and is disclosed to the defence and/or accused person (i.e. police narrative, witness statement). This is vetted to ensure no confidential material is disclosed.
An unresolved dispute between citizens, or between citizens and businesses or government
Laws that deal with the rights of private citizens. Civil cases deal with unresolved conflicts or disputes between individual or groups.
A demand for something somebody has a right to or owns.
The person who starts the family law action by filing a Notice of Family Claim. Under the old Supreme Court rules, the person who started the action was called the Plaintiff.
The use of force or intimidation to compel someone to do something; interference with another person.
Living with another person in a "marriage-like relationship" while legally unmarried.
In collaborative law, a person and their lawyer, and the former spouse and his or her lawyer, make a formal commitment to resolve disagreements outside the court process in an atmosphere of trust and collaboration. The goal of a collaborative lawyer is to settle the case fairly, without going to court. The lawyers are hired to reach a settlement, not to go to court. If the process breaks down, the lawyers must withdraw from the case.
Collusion (Family Law)
An agreement or conspiracy between the spouses to lie or deceive the court in order to get a divorce. To get a divorce, you must swear that there has been no collusion.
This phrase has a number of different meanings: 1) a legal principle under which courts are bound to follow the principles established by previous courts in similar cases dealing with similar facts; 2) the system of justice used in non-criminal cases in all provinces except Quebec; and, 3) the legal status of an unmarried couple who have cohabited for longer than two years in a marriage-like relationship.
Common Law Peace Bond
A protection order in which the judge exercises his inherent common law jurisdiction to keep the peace.
See Peace Bond and 810 Recognizance.
A same-sex or opposite-sex unmarried couple who live together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years under BC family law (and at least one year for the purposes of various Canadian federal laws).
Community Based Victim Assistance Programs
There are 62 Community-Based Victim Assistance Programs in BC. These programs provide emotional support, information, referrals, justice system support and liaison services for survivors of sexual assault, violence in relationships and violence against children and youth. These programs also work to ensure that a coordinated response is in place in their community. Some specialized programs provide support to survivors of violence who have specific needs, such as adult male survivors and survivors from Aboriginal and multicultural communities.
The access is dependent on the compliance of the parent to terms regulating conduct.
A conditional discharge occurs when person is found guilty or pleads guilty and the sentencing judge discharges (relieves) the person of the offence, subject to the person abiding by the conditions prescribed in a probation order. There will be no criminal conviction if the offender successfully completes probation.
A police officer who arrests a person may release him/her from custody conditionally on the person's giving a promise to appear or entering into a recognizance. The recognizance may contain conditions limiting the accused's liberty and may require a cash deposit to ensure compliance. Also see Recognizance.
A conditional sentence is a sentence that is served by the offender in the community. The offender remains in the community under supervision, and is required to abide by a number of conditions.
Forgiving the wrongful or harmful act of another. In family law, this usually refers to the forgiving of an act of adultery or cruelty and the continuation of the parties' relationship as it had been before. For example, if one party forgives another's adultery and their relationship continues on, that party has condoned the other party's adulterous act.
See also Adultery; Cruelty - Mental or Physical; Divorce; and Grounds for Divorce.
A disagreement between two parties.
A court order made by a judge, usually without a court hearing, when both parties or (former) partners agree to the terms of the order.
Contempt of Court
The crime of deliberately failing to obey or respect the authority of a court of law or legislative body.
A challenge or disagreement about the terms of a will.
A formal or legally binding agreement.
A conviction is registered when a person, charged with an offence, enters a guilty plea or is found guilty following a trial, and that person is not discharged. Also see Conditional Discharge.
In Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal, a master or judge's order that the losing party in a lawsuit pay the legal expenses (which may include court fees, disbursements, and legal fees) of the successful party. These orders may be made after an interim hearing but are usually made at the end of a trial or appeal.
The lawyers involved in the court proceedings.
Counterclaim (Family Law)
One method of responding to a Notice of Family Claim in Supreme Court. A court document setting out a claim for relief made by a Respondent against a Claimant.
See Notice of Family Claim and Response to Family Claim.
The assistant to the judge who swears in witnesses and supervises the exhibits during the trial.
Court of Appeal for British Columbia
Hears appeals of indictable offences from trial courts. Also hears appeals from decisions of Supreme Court on summary conviction appeals. This is not a trial court.
A legally binding decision made by a court of law.
Court Order (Family Law)
A Court Order is a document containing directions given by a judge in court. For example, the order tells the people named in it what they are to do about such issues as parenting arrangement or child support. There are legal consequences for disobeying a court order.
Place where the pleadings and documents for a court case are filed.
Criminal Harassment (Stalking)
Criminal harassment is unwanted, persistent attention. It is a pattern of threats and actions that makes you afraid for your safety or your children’s safety.
Law which sets out crimes or acts which the government has decided are illegal.
Both Crown counsel and defence counsel have the opportunity to question a witness called by the other side. This is a cross-examination.
Lawyers who work for the government. It is their job to present the Crown's (or state's) case. They are also known as prosecutors. In Canada, crimes are dealt with as wrongs against society as a whole and therefore, Crown counsel acts on behalf of all members of the public and do not represent the victim specifically.
Cruelty - Mental or Physical
Cruelty includes the physical, verbal, emotional or mental abuse of one person by another. See also Grounds for Divorce.
The parent with the legal right and responsibility for raising a child and personally supervising the child.
Term previously used in the Divorce Act. Refers party with whom the child lives and at whose home the child eats and sleeps for the majority of the time. See Decision making responsibility.
Custody and Access Assessment
See needs of the child assessment.
Damages include monetary compensation for financial loss, property loss, emotional injuries, physical injuries, loss of earnings, and costs of care.
A dangerous offender is an offender who has been convicted of a serious personal injury offence and the court has found him or her to be a danger to society. If the court finds an offender to be a dangerous offender, a jail sentence will be given for an indeterminate period of time.
Day parole is a type of early conditional release from jail. It may be available six months before full parole and allows the offender to participate in community-based activities during the day and return the institution by night.
An amount of money, a service, or an item of property that is owed to somebody.
A decision is the court hearing in which the judge will give his or her ruling about the guilt or innocence of the accused or the sentence to be imposed. Also, it may refer to a ruling on a legal issue or a question about evidence.
Decision making responsibility
As of March 1, 2021, the Divorce Act will no longer refer to custody of the child, rather spouses will have decision making responsibility which means they have the responsibility for making significant decisions about the child’s wellbeing, as well as day-to-day decisions while the child is in their care.
The Order which grants a Divorce.
Defence counsel is the lawyer representing the person charged.
The defendant is the accused in a criminal case.
In family law, this is the previous term for the person who responds to an action initiated by the Claimant (Previously the Plaintiff) This person is now called the Respondent.
The formal or official discussion or debate of something. For example, the jury would deliberate on the verdict in a court case.
Denying, Minimizing, Blaming
Anything that makes a person believe that they are responsible for the violence perpetrated against them. Examples include when the abuser denies the abuse happened, claims it was less significant than reported or the fault of the person who was abused.
Desk Order Divorce
An undefended (uncontested) divorce. The parties can ask for a divorce order by filing a Requisition with other documents and they do not have to appear before a judge in the Supreme Court.
When a detention order is given, the accused is denied bail and remains in custody until the conclusion of the trial, subject to bail reviews in Supreme Court. A detention order may also contain conditions not to contact the victim, witnesses, or other named persons.
The questioning by the lawyer who called the witness is called the direct examination. This may also be referred to as examination-in-chief.
Direct indictments are issued in some very serious cases. This means Crown counsel can, with the written consent of the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General of British Columbia, have the case go directly to the Supreme Court of British Columbia without a preliminary inquiry (Section 577 of the Criminal Code of Canada (https://ppsc-sppc.gc.ca/eng/pub/fpsd-sfpg/fps-sfp/tpd/p3/ch06.html). The length and the complexity of the case are factors in choosing to proceed by direct indictment. In such a case, all future court appearances will be held in the Supreme Court of BC.
Disclosure is the act of making the Crown's case known to defence by providing information on the evidence or circumstances of the case. The Crown must disclose, or share, with the accused all the relevant information gathered in the investigation so that the accused can fully defend him or herself against the charges.
Disclosure (Family Law)
In family law, the process of exchanging necessary information, such as financial statements, with the other party.
A disagreement or argument about something.
Division of Property
After a relationship breakdown, a decision needs to be made on how property owned by the couple is divided. This can be done by agreement or by a judge.
An ending of a marriage by an official decision in a court of law. Only married couples can divorce.
Federal law that gives the Supreme Court the authority to grant divorces and, as part of the divorce, to deal with child support and spousal support, decision making responsibility (formerly known as child custody and access) and parenting time (formerly known as access). Only married couples are covered under the Divorce Act. Support, child guardianship and property division for married and unmarried couples is covered under the Provincial Family Law Act. The Divorce Act was updated on March 1, 2021.
A document issued by a court which says that a marriage is over. If the judgement has not been appealed within thirty days, the divorce will become final.
Court Order granting a divorce.
A formal piece of writing that provides information or acts as a record of events or arrangements. They can be used as evidence in trials.
Domestic Violence (Family Violence)
The term Domestic Violence includes violence or the threat of violence by an intimate partner and by other family members, wherever this violence takes place and in whatever form. It may occur during, at the end, or following a relationship. It includes Economic/Financial Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Physical Abuse, Psychological Abuse, Sexual Abuse, and Verbal Abuse. Abuse may take the form of assault, exploitation, property destruction, theft, false imprisonment, isolation, stalking, sexual coercion, arson, sleep disruption, hurting home pets, ridicule and threats of homicide or suicide. It may also include interference with work, worship, education, healthcare, recreation and family. Domestic violence includes violence against children.
See also: Abuse; Child Abuse; Economic/Financial Abuse; Elder Abuse; Emotional Abuse; Physical Abuse; Psychological Abuse and Harassment; Sexual Abuse; Using the Children; Using the Courts; and Verbal Abuse.
Domestic Violence Emergency Response System Alarm (DVERS)
The Domestic Violence Emergency Response System (DVERS) program provides a protective signaling security system for victims and their children who are in high-risk domestic violence situations. The systems are monitored and are provided to individuals who meet the eligibility requirements as determined by participating social service agencies or police departments.
Domestic Violence Response Team (DVRT)
The Vancouver Police operate three Domestic Violence Response Teams (DVRT).
Each DVRT is comprised of a police investigator and a community counsellor with professional qualifications in social work or a related social science, as well as experience in dealing with victims of domestic violence. The mandate of the DVRTs is to provide prompt follow-up service to partners who are experiencing violence in their relationships.
A domicile could be where one has a permanent home, where one lives most of the time or where one intends to have a permanent home. A party's domicile may have an impact on the jurisdiction of the court to hear an action or deal with certain claims made in an action.
A common law entitlement of a wife to a portion on her husband
In some cultures, the property and/or chattels brought into the marriage by the wife through her family, or, the property given to a wife and/or her family by her husband in return for her marriage to him. In some countries, like India, it is outlawed, albeit still widely practiced. There is no legal entitlement to dowry in Canada, and claims for dowry will not normally be enforceable.
Dual Procedure Offence
A dual procedure offence is a category of criminal offences where the Crown counsel has the choice to proceed by either summary conviction or indictment. Also see Summary Conviction and Indictment.
Forcing someone to do something by psychological or emotional pressure; a defence to the enforcement of a contract. If, for example, a separation agreement was entered into under duress, that may be a ground to dispute or set aside that agreement.
Economic/Financial abuse includes acts such as the denial of funds, refusal to contribute financially, denial of food and basic needs, and controlling access to health care or employment.
Elder Abuse (Senior Abuse)
Elder Abuse is the abuse of seniors. It is the deliberate mistreatment of seniors that causes physical, mental or emotional harm; or damage to, or loss of, their assets. Elder abuse includes intimidation, humiliation, physical assault, sexual assault, overmedication, lack of medication, censoring of mail, invasion of privacy, and denial of access to visitors. Economic/Financial abuse is the most common type of elder abuse.
For most indictable offences (with the exception of a charge of murder and some offences which must be tried in Provincial Court), the accused is entitled to elect, or choose, how to be tried: by a Provincial Court judge, a Supreme Court judge, or a Supreme Court judge and jury. After the accused has elected his/her mode of trial, s/he may re-elect (i.e.: change his/her mind) subject to some legal restrictions set forth in the Criminal Code.
Emergency shelters are run by community groups and provide temporary shelter, food and other services to people who are homeless for a variety of reasons. Abused partners may use Emergency Shelters to receive short term housing for themselves and their children. See also Transition Houses.
Emotional Abuse includes acts and statements designed to control, degrade, humiliate or punish a spouse, child or family member such as threatening, name calling, stalking, isolating, and intimidation. It may also include the withholding of life-sustaining nurturing and is a form of domestic violence.
Evidence is the information presented by Counsel or defence. It includes the testimony of witnesses as well as objects and documents known as exhibits. Admissible Evidence is evidence that may be received by a trial Court to aid the judge or jury. Inadmissible Evidence is evidence that may not be received by a trial Court, generally because it is not allowed by some specific rule of exclusion.
Examination for Discovery
The cross-examination of a party under oath about the matters at issue in the action conducted, prior to trial. An examination for discovery is held outside court, with no one in attendance except for the parties, the parties' lawyers and a court reporter. The court reporter produces a transcript of the examination, which may, under certain circumstances, be used at trial.
A document referred to in an affidavit, which may be attached to the affidavit.
Ex Parte Order
Done or made for the benefit of one party only and without notice to, or hearing from, any person who is opposed. Usually for temporary or emergency relief.
An order made by the court on the application of one party to an action without notice or without hearing argument from the other party.
See Alternative Measures.
Buildings or services available in a certain location, for example, the courtrooms are in the courthouse facilities.
A series of facts that are presented in a story form.
Something that can be shown to be true, to exist, or to have happened. In a legal case it is based on or concerned with the evidence presented. Matters of fact are issues for a judge or a jury to decide.
Failure to Appear
Failure to appear is the term used when an accused does not attend a scheduled court appearance.
A family asset is anything owned by both spouses together, or by either spouse separately and ordinarily used for a family purpose. They are subject to division on the breakdown of the marriage. The most common examples of family assets are the family home and its contents and the family car. Other family assets might include bank accounts or investments, such as term deposits, stocks and bonds, and RRSPs. Pensions earned by either spouse during a marriage are also family assets. Personal items - such as jewellery or a motorcycle - that were used by only spouse during the marriage will not usually be included as family assets, nor will any property bought after separation, unless family asset, or money received from selling a family asset, was used to buy it. A business owned by one spouse may be a family asset, if the other spouse contributed in some way, either directly or indirectly, to it. A direct contribution might be money or labour; an indirect contribution might be taking care of family and household duties so that the other spouse could concentrate on the business. Family assets are presumed to be divided between the spouses on an equal basis under the Family Law Act, but may also be reapportioned (divided differently) to achieve fairness. There are complex legal issues involved.
Family Case Conference
A conference is a meeting between the parties, in the presence of the trial judge to discuss the case before the trial begins.
The place where the family lives together. See also: Matrimonial Home
Family Justice Counsellor
A person who helps the parties involved in a family dispute.
Family Law Proceeding
Term used in the Supreme Court for a legal action to settle family law issues, such as parenting responsibilities, guardianship, support and the division of property.
Family Maintenance Enforcement Act
The Act which sets out the law in regard to monitoring and enforcing all maintenance orders and agreements.
Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP)
The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is a service of the British Columbia Ministry of Attorney General. They are responsible under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act for monitoring and enforcing all maintenance orders and agreements that are filed with them. They will: calculate arrears, receive, record and forward payments to the person receiving maintenance (called the recipient), and take action, if and when necessary, to try to ensure the person who is supposed to pay maintenance (called the payor) makes the required maintenance payments.
The family home and other property owned by one or both spouses at the date of separation, unless it is excluded property. Family property is shared equally between spouses, regardless of their use or contribution to the property.
Family Relations Act
A former BC law that covers child custody, guardianship, access, spousal and child support, and the division of property (including pensions). Has been replaced by the Family Law Act.
The central government of Canada - based in Ottawa.
Charges collected by an institution. For example, money paid to file a claim in court.
This is the process of adding documents to a court file by giving the original and one or more copies to the court registry. There is a fee to file some documents.
Final Order (Family Law)
An order or judgment of the Court that finally disposes of the rights of the parties. Also known as a final award or a final judgment.
See Economic Abuse/Financial Abuse.
A court form (Form F8 in the Supreme Court and Form 4 in the Provincial Court) used to set out a party's income, expenses, assets and debts on the party's oath or affirmation.
A fine is a sentence, or one aspect of a sentence, involving a monetary sum to be paid to the court.
A first appearance describes the first time the accused is asked to come to court.
Forced marriage is a marriage that takes place without the free and full consent of one or both individuals. In a forced marriage, consent may be extracted under duress, including but not limited to: fraudulent inducement, violence, physical abuse and (especially in the case of minors) psychological/emotional manipulation.
The seizing of a person's property, credit or salary, on the basis of a law which allows it, and for the purposes of paying off a debt. The person who possesses the assets of the debtor and is the subject of the seizure is called a garnishee. This is frequently used in the enforcement of child support where delinquent debtors will be subjected to salary garnishment.
Grounds for Divorce
The justification for a divorce. The sole ground for divorce is the breakdown of the marriage. The marriage may have broken down due to separation for not less than one year; adultery, or mental or physical cruelty.
The office, duty or authority of a guardian who is a person who is legally entrusted to manage somebody else's affairs, especially those of a minor.
A person found guilty of a criminal charge, either as a result of an acknowledgment of it by pleading guilty, or as a result of a trial at which the accused was found guilty of the offence changed.
Habeas Corpus is an extraordinary remedy made by application to Supreme Court that challenges the validity of a person's detention in jail.
In law, a proceeding before a judge to determine questions of law and/or questions of fact, whether the hearing of an application or the hearing of a trial. A Court Hearing is a hearing in court before a judge. A case conference is a less formal meeting with the judge at the courthouse to determine certain issues.
A hung jury occurs when the jury is unable to reach a unanimous decision. In this case, no verdict is rendered and the Crown counsel office must decide whether or not to proceed with a new trial.
The Criminal Code categorizes two types of offences, Indictable and Summary Conviction. Hybrid offences (sometimes known as dual offences) are those which Crown can proceed with under either category. The decision will be based on the seriousness of the circumstances, when the offence occurred, whether or not the accused has been previously convicted of a similar offence and the likely sentence to be incurred. Once the Crown decides and advises the Court, the offence is treated as the kind the Crown has chosen. See Indictable Offence and Summary Conviction Offence.
Something that is against a specific law such as those found in the Criminal Code of Canada.
Means not being biased, that is, not favouring one person or side more than another.
Imputed Income is income attributed to a person rather than the income actually earned or claimed. If a judge feels that the amount of income a parent claims is not a fair reflection of his or her income, he or she can attribute (impute) income to that person.
In Loco Parentis
A person, usually a step-parent, who acts in place of the parent towards a child of the other spouse.
Free from the authority, control, or domination of somebody or something else. A person is capable of thinking or acting without consultation with or guidance from others.
Indictable offences are a category of criminal offences that are usually more serious crimes and carry greater maximum sentences than summary offences. Because these offences may have a more significant consequence to the accused if convicted, the accused has a choice about what level of court will hear the trial. The accused can choose to have the trial held in Provincial Court before a Provincial Court judge. If that is the accused's choice and the accused is found guilty, the potential maximum sentences are the same as if they were tried in a federal court. See Summary Conviction Offence and Hybrid Offence.
An indictment is the process of dealing with more serious (indictable) offences, allowing the accused to elect the mode of trial. In Supreme Court the document containing the formal list of charges is also called the "Indictment."
Indigency (Indigent Status)
Having so little money that one cannot afford to pay court fees. To apply for indigent status, a person must be receiving benefits under the Employment and Assistance Act or the Employment and Assistance for Persons with Disability Act. The person must also provide financial information to prove that their income is low as well as information about employment, education, and workplace skills.
Sexual unfaithfulness to a spouse. See Adultery.
See First Appearance.
Innocent until proven guilty
The burden of proof in a criminal case. It means that a person accused of a crime is innocent until the judge or the jury decides that the evidence presented at the trial proves that he or she committed the crime.
See Preliminary Hearing.
Involvement in something without any invitation or justification.
It is an order made by the court that serves as a temporary measure until something more complete and permanent can be decided.
Interim/Interlocutory Order (Family Law)
A short-term court order granted prior to a family law trial or a final court order. The order-which may be used to settle such issues as parenting time, parenting responsibilities or support- will remain in effect until the court makes a final decision or until the parties reach an agreement. Any order made before a trial and is intended to be temporary. Also called a non-final order.
An intermittent sentence allows the offender to serve his or her time of incarceration in intervals.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a pattern of abusive behaviours of one or more partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating or co-habitation and is a form of domestic violence. Intimate partner violence includes acts of physical aggression, psychological abuse, forced intercourse and other forms of sexual coercion, as well as various controlling behaviours such as isolating a person from family and friends or restricting access to information and assistance. See also: Domestic Violence
Intimidation and Threats
Any word, action or gesture that makes a person fearful for their safety either physically or psychologically. Examples include outright threats of violence, throwing objects, punching walls, destroying property, and using a voice to scare. Intimidation and threats are means of exerting power and control over a person.
Isolation and Extreme Jealousy
When a person is taken away from their friends, family, job or other support structures.
Examples include controlling whom a person sees, accusing a person of cheating, alienating a person from their friends and family. Isolation and extreme jealousy are means of exerting power and control over a person.
Legal matters in dispute between two parties in a case.
A situation in which both parents together have guardianship of their children. Should one parent die in such circumstances, the other parent becomes the sole guardian of the children. See also: Guardianship.
A person appointed by either the federal or provincial government with the authority to hear and decide legal actions in an impartial manner, independent of influence by the government or agents of the government, whose decisions are binding upon the parties to an action.
Judge Alone Trial
The accused, charged with an indictable offence, has elected to be tried in Supreme Court by a judge without a jury.
Judge and Jury Trial
The accused, charged with an indictable offence, has elected to be tried in Supreme Court by a Judge and jury.
A decision arrived at and pronounced by a court of law.
Judicial Case Conference (JCC)
A confidential meeting that both parties usually must have with a judge/master before any contested court application can be made. The purpose is to clearly identify the issues to be decided, review different ways to resolve the issues (such as settlement conferences, mediation or other ways), and manage the flow of the case in court (for example, the timing of court hearing, or exchanges of information.) Either party may request a JCC at any time.
Judicial Interim Release
A judicial interim release; also known as support. See also Child Support and Spousal Support
Leave of the Court
The court's permission to proceed with certain types of applications or to proceed in a certain way.
Any agreement or contract that is legally binding can be enforced under the law. This means that you cannot simply ignore an agreement, you have to live by the rules or decision in the agreement.
Money paid as child support or as spousal support
Male privilege is a concept which considers males to have certain privileges based on their sex and gender. It is related to the concept of patriarchy.
A prosecution instigated in malice without probable cause to believe the charges can be sustained. Malice means the intentional doing of a wrongful act without just cause or excuse, with the intent to inflict harm or pain to another.
The unlawful killing of one person by another without advance planning.
See Family Property.
A license you need for a legal marriage in Canada.
A master hears cases in Supreme Court. A master has the same powers as a judge to make interim or temporary orders on procedural issues or for parenting time guardianship and support, but cannot make final orders or divorce orders.
Matrimonial Home (Family Home)
In family law, the dwelling occupied by a family as their home.
See Family Property.
An attempt to solve a dispute by working with both sides to help them to reach an agreement.
A meeting between two or more parties to a claim for the purpose of reaching, with the assistance of a mediator, agreement on the issues in dispute.
A neutral person, with no decision-making power, who acts as a facilitator assisting the parties in communicating, especially by negotiation.
From the Latin, guilty mind, mens rea indicates the intent to commit a criminal act. Mens rea (mental) must coexist with actus reus (physical), the doing of the criminal act.
Injury or damage caused by the actions of somebody or something.
A mistrial is a trial that ends without a final judgement, caused by a fundamental error. After a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again with the selection of a new jury if it is a jury case.
Relating to or involving money or currency.
A law passed by a municipal government.
Needs of the Child Assessment
Under s 211 of the Family Law Act, the court can appoint an expert to assess the needs of the child, the views of the child, and the ability/willingness of a party in a family law dispute to satisfy the needs of the child. Also known as a section 211 report and formerly known as a section 15 report or custody and access report.
Neglect is the failure (whether intentional, careless or due to inadequate experience, training or skill) to provide basic care or services when agreed to by legal, contractual or otherwise assumed responsibility. Neglect is a common form of mistreatment and includes the neglect of a child, elder, or other person with whom one has a caregiver relationship.
No Contact Orders
An order in which a Judge orders one person to stay away from another person.
A previous term for the parent who does not have custody of the child. The Divorce Act was amended March 1, 2021, and no longer makes reference to child “custody”. Instead, spouses can have parenting time and decision making responsibilities.
"Not Guilty" is a plea made by an accused person to argue that they did not commit the crime. This plea places the burden on Crown to prove the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Also the finding of a judge or jury following a trial in which Crown was unable to prove the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
To certify something such as a signature on a legal document as authentic or legitimate by affixing a Notary Public’s stamp and signature.
Notary Public (Notary)
A professional legal or public officer (includes all lawyers) with the authority to administer or commission oaths and affirmations; certify affidavits, declarations, or other documents; take acknowledgements; take depositions or testimony; commission an Affidavit of Personal Service or an Affidavit of Ordinary Service; and prepare wills, mortgages, and other legal documents. They also officially authenticate/witness signatures; certify documents as true copies; provide affidavits of lost documents, name changes, and notarial certificates; and duplicate original notarizations.
Notice of Claim
The court form the claimant uses to make the claim.
Notice of Family Claim
The document that starts a family law case. It sets out information about the claimant and respondent, their relationship, and the final orders the claimant wants. If applying jointly with a spouse for a divorce, a Notice of Joint Family Claim is used. The Supreme Court previously used the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim to start an action.
Notice of Motion
A form used for a type of application to the court. It sets out what the party who prepares the Notice of Motion is asking for and the reason for the request.
Solemn promise: a formal or legally binding pledge to do something such as tell the truth in a court of law, made formally and often naming God or a loved one as witness.
An official crime, or a crime against moral, social or other accepted standards.
A person who has been determined by a court to be guilty of an offence, whether on acceptance of a plea of guilty or on a finding of guilt. In an informal context it can also refer to a person who is suspected of committing a crime.
The burden of proof or responsibility for acting in a legal proceeding.
See Consent Order or Court Order or Order Without Notice (Ex Parte).
Order Without Notice (Ex Parte)
An ex-parte order is an emergency order that is provided by the judge without the other party having been notified in advance of the application or the hearing. There must be compelling reasons why a hearing is urgent and why the other party should not be notified.
The result or the way that something turns out in the end.
To reverse a previous decision, ruling, or law by using legal or legislative procedures.
Parenting After Separation
Parenting After Separation is a free online course for B.C. parents – and other family members, such as grandparents or guardians - who are dealing with parenting arrangement, guardianship and support issues. The session is intended to help parents make careful and informed decisions about their separation and any conflicts that may result from it.
The arrangements made by the parents for the care of the children, including where the child lives, where they go to school, medical care and other important aspects of the child’s life.
A plan developed by parents who have separated. The plan is a document which sets out the decisions the parents have made about their children including how parents will share important information about the child, when each parent will spend time with the child, and how parenting issues will be addressed.
The time a spouse ( under the Divorce Act) or a guardian ( under the Family Law Act) spends with the child.
A crime or infringement of a law or rule with respect to parking regulations.
Parole is the early release of an offender from incarceration (jail) in which he or she serves the remainder of his or her sentence in the community under supervision and specific conditions.
A participant in a given court case, contract or other legal matter. It can be an individual, corporation or other entity such as the government.
Patriarchy/ Patriarchal Society
A society in which the male is the head of the household.
The term used to describe the spouse who pays support or maintenance.
A protection order made by a judge in court to help protect one person from another. Peace bonds list certain conditions, based on individual needs, that the person named in it must follow. Peace bonds are made in criminal court and may be made against anyone. Police will apply for a peace bond and Crown counsel will handle the matter in court. Peace bonds may be either made pursuant to section 810 of the Criminal Code or Common Law. Those made pursuant to Section 810 of the Criminal Code include a Finding or Admission of Fact and can have effects on future family matters. They may be called an 810 Recognizance. Common Law Peace Bonds are made when the judge exercises his inherent common law jurisdiction to keep the peace and may have a lesser effect on family matters. Peace bonds differ from Restraining Orders in several elements as the latter are used in Civil matters.
Perjury occurs when a person gives evidence in court that he or she knows is false. As outlined in the Criminal Code, anyone who commits perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and may be liable to imprisonment for a term not more than fourteen years.
A person who commits an offense or crime.
Items typically used exclusively by one person, such as jewellery, that are not included in family assets.
Somebody’s tangible moveable property such as automobiles, boats and money. It does not include land.
A pleading in a civil action by which the plaintiff or person suing sets down the cause of action and invokes the court's jurisdiction to make a decision in the case.
The person who petitions the court to take action in a civil case.
Petition for Divorce
An application to start a divorce proceeding. Spouses may file a petition for divorce together or separately.
Physical misuse or maltreatment or use or treatment so as to injure, hurt, or damage.
Former term for the person who begins a lawsuit in civil court. Now called the Claimant.
Somebody who begins a lawsuit in a civil court against somebody else called the defendant.
A plea is the answer given by an accused when charged with a criminal offence. Also see Guilty and Not Guilty.
Plea negotiation occurs when the Crown and the defence come to an agreement that the accused will plead guilty in exchange for a benefit such as reducing the charge against the accused or where the two sides agree upon a sentence.
Formal written statement in a lawsuit. A legal document setting out either a claim or a defence to a claim. Usually, the pleadings consist of the Notice of Family Claim, Response to Family Claim and Counterclaim.
Police Based Victim Services Program
There are 92 Police Based Victim Services Programs in BC. Staff work directly with the police to provide emotional support, information and practical assistance, referrals and court support to victims of crime and trauma.
Power and Control
The issue of power and control is often at the centre of abusive relationships; with the abuser attempting to exert power and control over the other person. There are many ways of having power and control over someone and some may be difficult to recognize. Abusers may use emotional, financial, spiritual, psychological or verbal forms of violence to exercise and maintain power and control in the relationship.
A pre-emptory challenge is a challenge made by the Crown or defence counsel to eliminate a potential juror during jury selection. Counsel can only make a limited number of pre-emptory challenges, for which no reason need be given.
A pre-sentence report is a report prepared by a probation officer that the judge may use in determining a sentence for a person who pleads guilty or is found guilty. The pre-sentence report may include information regarding the accused's background such as their family, education and employment.
A pre-trial conference is meeting between Crown and defence, in the presence of the trial judge to discuss the case before the trial begins.
The requirement of a court to follow earlier decisions of a superior or previous court. For example, following a decision that can be used subsequently for a similar type of case.
A preliminary hearing is a court proceeding that is held before the trial to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with the charges. During the preliminary hearing the Crown prosecutor can call witnesses to convince the judge that there is sufficient evidence against the accused to proceed with a trial. May also be called a preliminary inquiry.
The presiding judge is the judge who has been selected to hear the case in question.
Something that is likely to exist, occur, or be true, although evidence is insufficient to prove or predict it with certainty.
Probation is a sentence, or portion of a sentence in which the offender is released into the community under the supervision of a probation officer and must follow certain conditions such as being of good behaviour, abstaining from alcohol, not contacting the victim, etc.
In law, the whole of the conduct of a legal action, from beginning to end, and all steps in between; may also be used to refer to a specific hearing or trial.
Promise to Appear
The accused may be arrested and then released by a police officer after promising to appear in court on a specific date. The document signed by the accused is called a "Promise to Appear".
Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
It is the responsibility of Crown counsel to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before the court can convict. Therefore, after hearing all the evidence, if the court has reasonable doubt about whether the accused is guilty, the accused receives the benefit of that doubt and is acquitted. Also see Burden of Proof.
Includes everything a person owns, such as a car, house, television, appliances, and furniture. It also includes bank accounts, pension benefits, insurance policies, stocks, bonds and other investments.
To take legal action against someone in a court of law.
Prosecution is when legal proceedings are started against a person charged with a criminal offence.
An order (either a Peace Bond or a Restraining Order) made by a judge to protect one person from another. The order lists certain conditions the person named in it must follow – usually that he or she can have no direct or indirect contact with the other person.
Protocol is the formal procedure in an official or diplomatic society.
Provincial Court is the first level in the BC court system, dealing with criminal, quasi- criminal (Provincial Statute Violations), family, youth, small claims, and traffic and municipal matters. This Court also conducts preliminary hearings.
Psychological Abuse/ Psychological Harassment
Psychological abuse includes behaviour that is intended to intimidate and persecute, and takes the form of threats of abandonment or abuse, confinement to the home, surveillance, threats to take away the children, destruction of objects, isolation, verbal aggression and constant humiliation.
A publication ban is a Court order that prohibits the publication or broadcasting of trial information.
Quasi-criminal means a lawsuit or equity proceeding that has some, but not all, of the qualities of a criminal prosecution.
Forced intercourse. It is a sexual assault, even if it happens in a marriage.
Questions asked by counsel who called the witness, after cross-examination by the other counsel. Re-examination happens if the cross-examination has brought out new facts, or if something was unclear in cross-examination.
Land together with all the property on it that cannot be moved, together with any attached rights.
A reasonable doubt is a doubt about someone's guilt that a reasonable person might have, and for which they could give a reason.
Reasons for Judgment
A document that contains the facts upon which the judge has based his or her decision, the judge’s reasons for making that decision, and the decision itself. Reasons for Judgment may be written or oral. If they are oral, the parties may order a transcript of them from the Court.
The term used to describe the spouse who receives child support or spousal support/maintenance.
Recognizance refers to a promise, made by an accused who is pending trial, to appear in court and answer to the criminal charges that have been brought against him/her.
For some couples, a period of separation does not mean the end of the relationship. In family law, reconciliation means that a couple who have been separated resume their relationship. Under the Divorce Act it is the duty of the court, before considering the evidence, to satisfy itself that there is no possibility of the reconciliation of the spouses. Spouses have up to 90 days of attempted reconciliation without affecting the provision of a year of separation as a ground for the breakdown of the marriage.
Latin for Queen. Used for charging a person with a criminal offence. The charge would read Regina v. Jones.
A form signed by Supreme Court registry staff to show a judge that they have checked the documents filed in a family law proceeding, and they are satisfied everything is procedurally correct. The certificate is only required if you are asking for a divorce; the judge will not make a final order for a divorce unless there is a signed registrar’s certificate on file.
The office in the court where are pleadings and documents are filed when a court action is filed.
Practice information and procedures in relation to Statute law.
Remand can mean that an offender is to be held in custody until the next court date. It can also mean to postpone a criminal proceeding to another date, like an adjournment.
Report to Crown Counsel
A report to Crown counsel is a document completed by a police officer that details the circumstances of an alleged crime. The report will contain the date and time of the incident, information about the victim and witnesses, the person accused of the crime, a written description of the circumstances surrounding the crime and witness statements, if any were obtained.
To act or speak for another in an official way. For example, your lawyer will act for you in a legal case.
Relating to the rental of private housing or living accommodations.
The respondent is the party, either Crown or defence, who is responding to the appeal initiated by the Appellant.
Respondent (Family Law)
In family law, the Respondent is the person against whom a claim has been brought by Notice of Family Claim. Previously called the Defendant. See Application and Notice of Family Claim.
Response to Family Claim
In Supreme Court proceedings, a document that the Respondent must complete and file if he or she wants to respond to the Claimant’s Notice of Family Claim. This was previously called the Statement of Defense.
The Court may order the offender, on application of the Crown, or on its own, to pay monetary compensation (restitution) where loss, damage or injury has resulted from the offence to the victim.
A protection order made by a judge in court to help protect one person from another. Restraining orders list certain conditions based on individual needs that the person named in it must follow. Restraining Orders are made in civil (family) court and there must be a family connection. They differ from Peace Bonds in several elements. See Peace Bonds, (Common Law and 810 Recognizance) No Contact Orders, Protection Orders
To keep something within fixed limits.
In bail hearings, it is usually the responsibility of the Crown to "show cause" why an accused should be detained while awaiting trial. In very limited circumstances, this responsibility (onus) shifts to the accused and it is set forth in Section 515(6) of the Criminal Code. When section 515(6) applies, the accused must "show cause" why s/he should not be detained.
The act or an instance of illegally taking something that belongs to somebody else, especially by using force, threats, or violence.
A long loose garment worn as a symbol of authority especially by judges or members of the clergy.
Safe homes provide temporary accommodation for persons fleeing abuse in communities where Transition Houses do not exist. The safe home may be a rental apartment, private home or hotel unit. See also Transition Houses and Emergency Shelters.
A means to ensure the safety of an adult or child in a potentially dangerous situation. They can help by preparing people to reduce the potential for violence, get help in an emergency, get away safely, keep children safe, and safely get clothes, pets and other personal items.
Same Sex Marriage
Marriage of two persons of the same sex.
Same Sex Relationship/Same Gender Relationship
"Lesbian and gay relationships. Same sex refers to relationships between people of the same sex, which refers to the physical aspects of one’s body and is therefore biological. Gender refers to self-perception and how that is demonstrated to others, which is social construction. Same gender refers to people who are attracted to, and in relationships with, people of the same gender regardless of their sex.
A court order authorizing entry to somebody's property to look for unlawful possessions or for evidence of the commission of a crime.
Second Stage Housing
Second-stage housing helps people who have left abusive relationships make plans for independent living. Individuals and their children usually stay in a second-stage house for 6-18 months.
Section 15 Evaluation Report
See Needs of the Child Assessment.
Section 7 Expenses
See Special or Extraordinary Expenses.
A sentence is the judgment (punishment), pronounced by the Court upon the accused, after a finding of guilt.
A sentence hearing is the date is set to hear arguments by the Crown and defence to help the judge to sentence the offender.
When two people who have been living together in a marriage, or marriage-like relationship, decide not to live together any more with the intention of living separate and apart. There is no such thing as a “legal” separation. If a couple is living apart, they are separated. Sometimes a couple may be separated but living under the same roof. See also Grounds for Divorce.
A document that separating or separated spouses can draw up to put in writing those matters that are settled between them. Some of the matters the spouses might deal with in this document include parenting arrangements, guardianship, child support or spousal support, or division of assets or debts. There is no official form to use for drawing up a separation agreement.
Getting a document to another person in whatever way the law requires.
To come to a decision or agreement about something in order to solve a problem or a dispute.
Sexism is discrimination based on gender and/or sex. It may include being told what a person can or cannot do based on their gender according to the social norms. Sexism may be used to exert power and control over another person.
Sexual Abuse includes abuse such as coerced sex through threats, intimidation or physical force, forcing unwanted sexual acts or forcing sex with others. It can also include unwanted touching of a sexual nature.
Sexual assault includes any sexual activity committed without the consent of the other party. This may include unwanted kissing, fondling or sexual touching, rape (forced intercourse) using a weapon to force sexual activity. Being married does not protect an abuser from sexual assault charges. A person can be charged with sexually assaulting his or her partner.
Any unwanted sexual activity or manipulation of a person or situation in order to get sex. The use of sex to exert power and control over another person. Sexual coercion may include unwanted touching, pressuring for sex, or being treated as a sex object. Sexual coercion is a crime in Canada.
Sexual exploitation includes behaviors such as encouraging or requiring a child or an adult to engage a range of behavior including sexual nature for the stimulation, gratification, profit, prostitution; or the making of pornographic material.
The Sheriff's responsibilities are to make sure the Courtroom is safe, and to look after witnesses, juries and prisoners.
Show Cause Hearing
A show cause hearing is when an accused person (or their lawyer) is required to convince the court that they should be released on bail pending a trial. Also see Judicial Interim Release
Special or Extraordinary Expenses (Section 7 Expenses)
Special expenses are extra expenses for a child over and above the regular cost of living, such as child care expenses while the recipient works or goes to school or is ill or disabled, medical and dental insurance premiums specifically for the child, health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually, and expenses for post-secondary education. Extraordinary expenses are expenses for education, programs, or extracurricular activities that meet the child's needs, such as tutoring or private school, or, possibly, for other activities in which the child excels and is shown to be particularly gifted.
A court order compelling somebody to carry out an obligation, often something stipulated in a contract.
The court order or agreement states exactly when and for how long the children will be with their other parent. See Access.
Using a person’s religious beliefs to dominate or control them.
When one spouse sponsors another spouse to come to Canada, that person will usually sign a "sponsorship agreement" with the government. That agreement requires the sponsor to support the person coming to Canada, whether they stay married or separate or divorce. This agreement is only binding between the sponsor and the government. If the person coming to Canada needs spousal support, for example, he or she will have to ask the court for an order that spousal support be paid.
Spousal abuse is the violence or mistreatment that a woman or man experiences at the hands of a marital, common-law or same sex partner. Spousal abuse may include physical abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation, emotional abuse, criminal harassment or stalking, economic/financial abuse, spiritual abuse or other.
Financial support paid to a former spouse under a court order or agreement. Also called maintenance; sometimes referred to as alimony in other locations outside BC. Spousal support is distinct from Child Support or Special or Extraordinary Expenses.
Somebody's husband or wife.
Spouse (Family Law)
According to the BC Family Law Act, the term "spouse" applies to the members of a same-sex or opposite-sex couple, married or have lived together in a marriage-like relationship, and as done so for at least 2 years or have a child together.
See Criminal Harassment.
Statement of Defense
Former term for the Response to a Family Claim in the Supreme Court.
The body of law that has been enacted by a legislature, or a specific law so enacted.
By law, most federal inmates are automatically released after serving two-thirds of their sentence. This is called statutory release.
A stay of proceedings might be called by Crown or the Court. This is when the charge is terminated at any time before there is a finding of guilt.
Stay of Proceedings as Directed by Crown
A stay of proceedings as directed by the Crown occurs when the Crown terminates the charge(s) prior to any judicial determination. This may occur at any time prior to a finding of guilt. Also see Judicial Stay of Proceedings.
Stopping the Violence (STV)
Community-based prevention projects and counselling programs for women who have experienced violence. These programs provide essential counselling and support (including information, referrals and in some cases, system liaison services) for those who have experienced sexual assault, violence in relationships, and/or childhood abuse. There are 102 Stopping the Violence Counselling programs in BC funded by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.
Stopping the Violence Outreach Program
This program responds to the needs of adult women and their dependent children who have experienced, or are at risk of violence. Agencies support women to identify and access the services they need through supportive counseling, referral to community services and assistance with systems such as child protection and family court. Agencies provide community education to raise awareness about the effect of violence against women and the services needed to address it. As needed, agencies provide local transportation, accompaniment and advocacy. There are 69 Stopping the Violence Outreach programs in BC, funded by the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.
A subpoena (pronounced sub-pena) is an official court document, which orders a witness to come to Court to give evidence. See Suboena.
The overuse, misuse or dependency on any substance, but especially drugs or alcohol, to the detriment of the user.
The intentional killing of oneself. Counselling or aiding suicide is a crime.
To take a legal action against somebody to obtain something, usually compensation for a wrong.
Summary Conviction Offence
A summary conviction is generally considered for less serious offences. Many summary offences have a maximum jail sentence of six months and a maximum fine of $2,000.00. Tthe trial for summary offences is held in Provincial Court before a provincial court judge. See Hybrid Offence and Indictable Offence.
Summary Conviction Offence
Generally considered the less serious offences. Crown Counsel must approve charges within six months of the actual offence unless the accused consents. Maximum jail term is six months for most offences, but for a very limited number of offences may be to an eighteen months maximum. These cases are dealt with in Provincial Court.
A Summary Trial is a quicker and less expensive alternative to a trial, and does not usually include oral evidence. Evidence is provided by way of affidavit. It is intended to result in a final court order.
A summons sets out the charge as well as the time and place at which the accused is to appear in court. It is issued by a Justice of the Peace after an Information has been sworn, as a way to notify the accused of the charge and require his or her attendance to court on the date set forth in the summons.
A judge of Supreme Court that sits for at least half-time.
Supervised Parenting Time
The children can spend time with a parent but another adult must be present. See Parenting Time.
Payments made from one person to another to help pay the living costs of that person or of a child. Also called Maintenance. See Spousal Support and Child Support.
Support Order or Agreement
Specifies the amount one former spouse must pay to the other for spousal and/or child support. It may be a separate order or agreement, or may form part of a larger divorce order or separation agreement. Also called a Maintenance Order or Agreement.
To provide somebody with money and the other necessities of life over a period of time.
Supreme Court of British Columbia
Conducts civil and criminal jury and non-jury trials. Criminal trials relate to all indictable offences. This court also hears summary conviction appeals.
Supreme Court of Canada
The highest court in Canada. It hears appeals from the Appeal Courts of each of the provinces and territories, and the Federal Court of Appeal.
Surety is the person who vouches for the accused while he or she is on bail awaiting trial or appeal. The surety will provide assets to the Court which they risk losing if the accused does not abide by his or her bail conditions or fails to attend Court.
A suspended sentence can be given by the Court with directions that an offender be released under the conditions of a probation order. It may not be utilized for offences where a minimum term of imprisonment has been prescribed by Parliament. Swear An Oath
To swear an oath refers to when a witness places his or her hand on top of a Bible or other Holy Book or sacred object and promises to tell the truth.
An escorted or unescorted temporary absence may be granted to incarcerated offenders in order for them to receive medical treatment; have contact with their family; undergo personal development and/or counselling; and participate in a community service work project. It may also be granted for compassionate reasons (e.g. a funeral).
To declare or say something that can be taken as evidence under oath in a court of law.
Testimony is the evidence given by a witness who is under oath or affirmation.
A warning that something unpleasant is imminent. See also Intimidation and Threats.
A name or symbol used to show that a product is made by a specific company and legally registered so that no other manufacturer can use it.
Trafficking means the buying and selling of something, particularly if the trade is illicit. Trafficking may include drug trafficking, arms trafficking, and other illicit goods. Trafficking in humans includes, but is not limited to, domestic and international trade and transportation of individuals for the purposes of labour and prostitution. It can include women and children. It is illegal under Canadian and international law.
It is the written record of the trial.
Transition houses are safe, temporary shelter provided by BC Housing. They provide emotional support and crisis intervention, help in accessing housing, child care, schooling, parenting support, and financial, medical and legal assistance. They are staffed round the clock, every day. See also Safe Houses and Second Stage Housing.
A violation of the allegiance owed by somebody to his or her own country, for example, by helping an enemy.
A formal examination of the facts and law in a civil or criminal action before a court of law in order to determine an issue.
A formal meeting of the parties with a judge to prepare for trial.
A court in which a case is first decided, as opposed to a court of appeals.
A form which includes a statement of facts in the order in which the events occurred, a calculation of the amount claimed, copies of the relevant documents, and a list of witnesses with a brief summary of which each witness will say.
Trier of Fact
In a criminal case, the trier of fact refers to the jury who listens to the evidence and decides on the guilt of the accused based on the facts of the case against him or her.
Under the Family Law Act, the date of separation is the single triggering event that defines the scope of the property to be divided. Both parties are entitled to and responsible for family property and debts accumulated up until the date of separation.
Something agreed on by everyone, for example, a criminal jury must have all jurors agree on the verdict.
Undefended Divorce (Desk Order Divorce)
Also referred to as an Uncontested Divorce. An uncontested divorce is one in which no response is filed. This is one way to obtain a divorce when the parties agree about the divorce and related issues such as property division, parenting arrangements, support, and guardianship.
Circumstances that allow a payor to avoid paying the full amount of Child Support under the Child Support Guidelines. The payor must prove that the payments would be "undue" or exceptional, excessive, or disproportionate.
An unmarried couple may be a boyfriend and girlfriend who have lived together. Sometimes an unmarried couple can be involved in a family law problem even if they have been together only for a very short while. Children may also be involved.
Something that is not decided.
Using the Children
Children may be used to exert power and control over an individual. Examples include: using children to relay negative messages, using the children to "spy" on parental activities, threatening to harm or kidnap the children, using parenting time to harass, abusing the children emotionally, physically or sexually, taking the children out of Canada to a country of origin, not paying child support, or talking negatively about a parent to the child.
Using the Legal System (Using the Courts)
Some partners or parents use the legal system to harass their former partner. They may: file repeated affidavits in court, or file repeated court requests for variations in parenting time or arrangements orders (court harassment), falsely file multiple requests by using different file numbers, make counter-accusations or misrepresent information in court, fail to notify the partner of court requests, miss child support payments as set out in a court order, or threaten to take their partner to court to pressure that partner to do what he/she wants.
Vary (Variation, Variation Order, Change Order)
To change an existing Order.
Verbal Abuse is abuse using language to demean, shame, attack, intimidate, blame or dismiss. Examples include blaming, criticizing, insulting, name calling, sarcasm, threatening, yelling or screaming. Profanity may or may not be present.
A verdict is the judge or jury's decision (or finding) of a case. In criminal cases, the verdict must be unanimous.
The victim is an individual who suffers physical or mental injury, or economic loss as a result of a crime. Primary victims are those who were the direct victim of a crime. Secondary victims may have been victimized by some association with the crime, but not as a direct target.
Victim Impact Statement
A Victim Impact Statement is a written account of the personal harm suffered by a victim of crime. In some cases, the statement may be read by the victim in person or on video. The statement may include a description of the physical, financial and emotional effects of the crime. Where victim impact information has been presented, it must be taken into consideration by the judge or parole board.
A victim surcharge is a monetary penalty imposed on offenders, in addition to any other punishment imposed, at the time of sentencing. It is collected by the provincial and territorial governments, and the revenue is used to provide programs, services and assistance to victims of crime within their jurisdictions. It is not paid directly to the victim of the specific crime.
Violence Against Women
Violence Against Women includes a range of abusive behaviours in which the abuser uses threats and violence to gain power and control over a woman and tries to undermine and/or take away her self-worth. It includes intimidation, threats, physical abuse, sexual abuse, economic/financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological harassment, using the children and using the legal system. The United Nations defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
A voir dire is a trial within a trial. It is a hearing held, without the presence of the jury, to determine whether an issue of fact or law would be admissible. For example, a voir dire may be used in order to decide whether certain aspects of an expert witness' testimony will be allowed.
After an information has been sworn, a Justice of the Peace can issue a warrant for the arrest of the accused. The Justice of the Peace must have reasonable grounds to believe that the arrest is in the public interest. An endorsed warrant has been signed by a Justice of the Peace and a person arrested on such a warrant can be released from custody by the police. An unendorsed warrant has not been signed by a Justice of the Peace, indicating to the police that the person arrested is to be held for court.
Weighs the Evidence
The process of looking at all the evidence to decide which parts carry the most weight or are more believable.
A statement of what somebody wants to happen to his or her property after he or she dies, or a legal document containing this statement.
Witnesses are persons who testify in court because they have some information about the case. A witness may volunteer to testify or may receive a subpoena (a legal document which orders him/her to come to court at a certain time to testify). Usually a witness is only permitted to be in the courtroom to hear the testimony of other witnesses once his or her own testimony has been completed. This is to ensure that one witness is not influenced (affected) by what another witness says in court.
The person who works for Crown counsel whose job it is to ensure witnesses know the trial date. He or she can give the witness general information about Court procedure.
Work release is a correctional program that enables inmates to leave the correctional facility to work during the day and return to the facility at night.
A written court order demanding that the addressee do or stop doing whatever is specified in the order.
Writ of Summons
See Notice of Family Claim. Previously the first step in starting a family law proceeding in Supreme Court.
Under the YCJA (Youth Criminal Justice Act) youth 12 years old or older, but younger than 18 at the time of committing the offence are known as young offenders.
In Canada, those aged twelve to seventeen are considered youth under criminal law, and fall within the scope of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.