Divorce in Alberta

Filing for divorce in Alberta doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It is similar to other provinces in Canada. We outline the steps necessary to getting divorced in Alberta.

Alberta Divorce: How to File for Divorce in Alberta

Filing for divorce in Alberta has become a more streamlined process with access to two possible courts to receive a ruling. Along with the main Court of Queen’s Bench, which deals with everything involved in the divorce process, there is also the Provincial Court, Family Division. The Family Division only helps resolves disputes involved with child custody, child support and spousal support. It follows an informal process relative to the Queen’s Bench and can therefore help resolve issues quicker than the Queen’s Bench. Carefully review the following steps required to file for divorce in Alberta and receive your Alberta Divorce Certificate. While it is possible to file without the aid of a lawyer, the process can quickly become irritating, especially if there are disagreements. A family lawyer will often pay for themselves by helping resolve disputes and bring peace of mind to the entire process.

Step 1: File the Statement of Claim
The initial step in the divorce process in Alberta is to file the Statement of Claim for Divorce, which includes the date of marriage, birthdates of both the spouses and any children along with terms for child support, child custody and any spousal support. Both current addresses of each spouse must be included as well. These forms can be completed by you or by a lawyer and must be filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Step 2: Serving the Statement of Claim & Answering
If you were the one to file the Statement of Claim, then you became the plaintiff and your spouse will be served your claim and deemed the defendant. The statement must be served to your spouse in person by an adult that is someone other than yourself. Your spouse will have 20 days to ‘answer’ the service.

If Contested… Step 3: Negotiations, Financial Information Disclosure & Settlements
If your spouse answers your Statement of Claim by contesting your proposal, then it moves onto negotiations. At this stage both parties must disclose all financial information (a lawyer can help with this process) in order to more accurately dispute custody and support issues. Legal representation is strongly encouraged and negotiations can take place directly through the lawyers or through a mediator. A mediator is often encouraged by your counsel should an agreement be difficult to reach, and becomes binding. At this stage, if everything is resolved, the next step is the same as the uncontested process. If one side is not cooperating, then Step 4 is required and the courts become involved.

If Uncontested… Step 3: The Divorce Judgment & Alberta Certificate of Divorce
Assuming you’ve met the criteria for divorce (separated for at least one year), then you can file the three required documents along with your marriage certificate with a clerk at the Court of Queen’s Bench. The three documents include a Request for Divorce, Affidavit of Applicant and a proposed Divorce Judgment. A Justice of the court will review everything and sign the Alberta Divorce Judgment if she is satisfied. A copy will be mailed to both you and your spouse. The judgment becomes final 31 days after being signed. Once you have a final judgment, you can then request your Certificate of Divorce in Alberta, at which point you have proof you are officially divorced and can remarry if you wish.

Step 4: Last resort in court
The majority of divorces are settled without ever ending up in court. They are often resolved through submission of paperwork and correspondence through lawyers. That being said, if all avenues to negotiate and settle disputes have been attempted outside of court, then appearing in front of a Justice could be the only remaining option. At that point, each party will have the opportunity to be heard and a final decision will be made.

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