Alberta Divorce Basics
Divorces in Canada are governed by the Divorce Act (Canada). Each province sets up its own administration of the Act. Once the divorce has been filed, the clerk must order a "Clearance Certificate", which establishes that no other divorce has been filed anywhere in Canada under the same names as those of the parties to the current divorce. It takes between 6 and 12 weeks for the certificate to arrive back at the Court from Ottawa. No further steps, other than serving the Defendant, can take place until the certificate has been received by the Court.
Grounds for Divorce
There are three grounds for divorce contained in the Divorce Act (Canada) that can be used to get an alberta divorce. You must choose which one of the three you intend to rely on to obtain your divorce. Here are the three grounds:
LIVING SEPARATE AND APART FOR ONE YEAR: This is the most commonly used ground as it requires no proof of anything that the other person has done. You just have to tell the Court that there has been a breakdown in your relationship evidenced by living separate and apart. You should note that you can start the divorce action at anytime, you just can't file the final documents until the one year period has passed. You should also note that you and your ex-spouse should not conspire to say the separation date is earlier than it is. It is also possible to be separated while you and your spouse still live in the same house. There is additional information that you must supply to the Court if this is the case.
ADULTERY: While marriages end because of infidelity, you must be able to produce proof acceptable to the Court before you can use this basis for your divorce. In most cases, unless your former spouse is willing to admit the infidelity under oath, it is very hard to satisfy the Court unless you have very strong evidence. Also note that your former spouse can refuse to answer any question regarding infidelity. The right not to answer these types of questions is contained in the Alberta Evidence Act. If you can prove the adultery then you do not have to wait one year before proceeding with the divorce.
MENTAL OR PHYSICAL CRUELTY: The same standard of proof for this ground applies as noted above. Courts will consider police reports or possibly psychological reports to establish proof of cruelty. Once again, if you can establish the cruelty then you do not have to wait for the one year period.
By far the most common ground for uncontested alberta divorce is living separate and apart for one year. The other party has no defence to this ground unless they can prove to the satisfaction of the Court that you have not been separated for the required period. Once this fact is established then it is your right to get a divorce.
Two Types of Divorces in Alberta
Since the Alberta Rules of Court were updated in 2010 there are now two ways to obtain an Alberta divorce. The new joint divorce procedure was part of the Divorce Act (Canada) but there was no procedure in Alberta. You and your spouse can now file for divorce under either of the two procedures. The two procedures are:
STANDARD DIVORCE: In a standard divorce the person filing the divorce is known as the Plaintiff and the other party is known as the Defendant. Using this procedure is recommended in most cases unless the other person is available and willing to participate in every stage of the process. Under this path once the other party has been served and they do not respond, then they do not have to agree to any other steps of the divorce process. Also, with this path, the person filing the divorce is in control of the Court process and can speed up or slow down the process as needed.
JOINT DIVORCE: This is a new procedure in Alberta. Under this path the couple goes before the Court as husband and wife and asks the Court to dissolve their marriage. There is no allegation of one party being aggrieved, they are simply noted throughout the process as husband and wife. In the event the divorce becomes contentious during the divorce, either party can withdraw from the joint filing by notifying the Court and the other party that they are withdrawing. In the event this happens, then the divorce will continue through the Court as a standard divorce.
There are pros and cons to both systems. We can advise you of how each path works and let you choose which one is appropriate in your situation.
If you want an Alberta Divorce you must file the documents in the appropriate location a Calgary divorce is filed at the new downtown Court centre located on the LRT line. If you want an Edmonton divrorce, then the documents must filed in the Court of Queen's Bench in Edmonton. The addresses to file either a Calgary divorce or an Edmonton divorce can be obtained by visiting Alberta Courts website. If you are seeking an Alberta divorce in other than Edmonton and Calgary, you can find the right Court location on the website.
Our company is founded on the basis that getting a divorce should not be so costly that either party will be ruined financially. We can help you throughout the process at very reasonable prices. Our basic price for an Alberta divorce is $1,400. Our prices include the Court filing fee (currently $260) and all copying and mailing charges. GST must be added to the divorce price. The only extra cost will be to obtain a marriage certificate (if you do not have one). You must supply a photograph of your former spouse if it is a standard divorce. If you have children there is an additional charge of $300 to cover the cost of preparing the documents to determine child support amount based on information you supply. There are also additional charges if your spouse lives outside of Alberta or outside of Canada. Most divorces where one of the parties does not live in Canada will cost $1,800. If you are filing under the standard divorce path and we can serve your spouse by agreement, there is no charge for serving the documents. If you spouse is not co-operative then the cost to hire a process server is in addition to the standard fee.. There are also some situations that require extra work and we do charge additional fees to handle these situations. In most cases our standard fee will cover the cost unless there are some unusual circumstances. We will always give you the full cost of our services prior to starting the divorce so there are no surprises to you.
We offer all potential clients a FREE consultation by telephone or email. Please feel free to contact us with all of your Alberta divorce questions and we will advise you whether our services are suitable for your situation. In the event the matter is more complicated than we can handle, we provide you with a referral to a lawyer experienced with Alberta divorce law. We are here to help you while at the same time trying to reduce your costs to the lowest possible level.
Calgary office: (403) 560-8550 • Edmonton Office: (780) 761-1277 • Red Deer Office: (403) 986-9626