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Family Law Courts in NL

There are two levels of Family Court in Newfoundland and Labrador: Provincial and Supreme.

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has two divisions – Family and General.

The Provincial Court and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador hear family matters dealing with custody, access, child support and spousal support. However, only the Supreme Court has the authority to deal with divorce and the division of matrimonial property.

Judicial areas

In certain areas on the East and West coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division has exclusive jurisdiction for all family law matters which arise in its geographical jurisdiction. This means that in those areas (called judicial areas), all family law cases are dealt with in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division and none will be heard in Provincial Court.

The judicial areas that come under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division include:

East Coast: The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division has exclusive jurisdiction over all family matters arising on the Avalon Peninsula (as far as Holyrood and including Bell Island). This also includes the St. John’s metropolitan area. This means any family law applications arising in these areas must be filed with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division. The Provincial Court in these areas does not accept family court applications.

West Coast: The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division has exclusive jurisdiction over all family matters arising in the area from Grey River west along the South coast of the island portion of Newfoundland and Labrador to Channel-Port aux Basques, then north to include the whole of the Great Northern Peninsula and west to the turnoff of the Trans Canada Highway to routes 420 and 421 to Jackson’s Arm and the Beaches respectively, to include all of the communities along both routes 420 and 421. This means any family law applications arising in these areas must be filed with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division. The Provincial Court in these areas does not accept family court applications.

Expanded Service Area

There are some communities which are considered to come within the “expanded service area.” In these communities, people have the option of filing certain types of family law applications (such as custody, access, child support and spousal support) with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division or with the Provincial Court since the two Courts have concurrent jurisdiction in these communities. Communities which fall into the “expanded service areas” include:

East Coast: The expanded service area on the East Coast includes the communities from Holyrood to Port Blandford, including the Bonavista Peninsula.

West Coast: There is no expanded service area on the West coast of the province.

What about other areas of the province which are not located within the “judicial area” or “expanded service area” of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Family Division?

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 of Newfoundland and Labrador General Division. However, only the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador General Division has the authority to deal with divorce and the division of matrimonial property.