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The Provincial Court's jurisdiction in family law cases is determined not only by the subject matter of the proceeding but also by geography. There are, for instance, certain types of cases which cannot under any circumstances be commenced in the Provincial Court. These would include an application for a divorce judgment or any other order under the Divorce Act as well as an application for the division of matrimonial assets pursuant to the provisions of the Family Law Act.
It is equally important to note that while Rule 1.02 of the Provincial Court Family Rules, indicates that those Rules govern all proceedings in the Provincial Court under the Adoption Act, Change of Name Act, Children's Law Act, Children, Youth and Families Act , Family Law Act, Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act, Neglected Adults Welfare Act, Marriage Act, and Support Orders Enforcement Act, 2006, not all Provincial Courts in the province have a family law division.
For example, if you live on the Avalon Peninsula (as far as Holyrood and including Bell Island), then you are in what is known as the judicial area of the Family Division of Supreme Court and your family law application must be filed with that Court. This is also true if you live on the west coast of the province, including the Northern Peninsula. The Provincial Court in these areas does not accept Family Court applications.
If you live in what is referred to as the expanded service area of the Family Division of Supreme Court (from Holyrood to Port Blandford, including the Bonavista Peninsula), you will have the option of filing your application with that Court or with the Provincial Court as the two Courts have concurrent jurisdiction in family law matters.
In all other areas of the province (including Labrador), an application for custody of or access to a child and an application for child and/or spousal or partner support may be filed in either the Provincial Court or the Supreme Court (Trial Division). If you are applying to vary an existing order for custody, access or support, it is advisable to go to whichever level of Court granted the order that you want to change. Except where otherwise specified in the legislation, all other applications under the Acts mentioned in Rule 1.02 (see paragraph two above) may be commenced in the Provincial Court.
If an Act does not provide a procedure or forms for making an application, then the procedures set out in the Provincial Court Family Rules and the forms provided on this site may be used to commence or respond to an application filed in the Provincial Court. You are not required to have a lawyer prepare an application on your behalf or to appear at Court with you. However, it is always advisable to seek legal advice prior to commencing any court proceeding.