Divorce in Alberta Basics

The Canada Divorce Act is the main reference for Alberta divorce proceedings. This is also the basis for other divorces filed in other provinces. After filing, a Clearance Certificate must be requested – this would state that the parties involved did not file for a divorce elsewhere in Canada using the same legal names they are currently carrying. This certificate would be sent from Ottawa and may take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to arrive. Absence of such certificate precludes any further action in the meantime, except serving the party being filed against.

Why File a Divorce?

There are three reasons, or grounds for divorce that are considered valid in Alberta. You have to choose one of the three before filing an Alberta divorce.

The grounds are as follows:

  1. Living Separate and Apart for a Year – Generally, this is the simplest ground as there is no form of corroborating evidence required. “Living separate and apart” is self-explanatory, and all you have to mention to the Court is that this has been a result of some form of marital differences. The one-year time frame for living separately must be commenced before the divorce can be officially filed, though if this has passed, you should also inform the Court you are ready to file for divorce any time. There should also be mention that both parties are not intending to pre-date the separation. However, if you and your spouse still live under one roof, the term “living separate” may still be applicable. This would require supporting information to be provided to the Court.
  2. Adultery – Some form of evidence confirming an extra-marital affair must be provided before you use this case as the grounds for your Alberta divorce. This can be quite tricky, especially if your spouse categorically denies the allegations in Court, so it is important the evidence you supply be especially clear and obvious. However, your spouse has the legal right to decline to answer any questions pertaining to the alleged infidelity. This is pursuant to the Alberta Evidence Act, which contains such a provision. It is not required to wait the standard one year before filing for divorce if there is clear proof of an adulterous affair.
  3. Mental/Physical Cruelty – The requirement of proof for this ground would be the same as that for adultery. Domestic violence cases filed with law enforcement agencies or psychological evaluations can suffice as proof. The one year waiting period would again be waived if you can provide proof of cruelty.

Most, if not all of the time, Living Separate and Apart for One Year is the most frequently used ground for an Alberta divorce. Unless your spouse can refute your claim successfully to the Court, they have no legal fallback in such a situation. But if you are able to convince the Court that such a separation exists, then you can normally file for a divorce without a hitch.

Divorce in Alberta – Standard and Joint

The latest version of Alberta’s Rules of Court now states that filing for an Alberta divorce can be done in two ways. Updated in 2010, the new Rules of Court now include provisions for a joint divorce in Alberta, whereas said option was previously unavailable to Alberta residents. What follows is an explanation of the two types of divorces and what would be in it for you and your spouse should you go either route:

  1. Standard Divorce – The party filing for divorce would be known in such a case as the Plaintiff, while the Defendant would be the party being filed against. Except if the other party is happy to cooperate and take part in the entire divorce proceedings, this is the most advisable type of divorce to be filed. The other party may choose not to respond once served, which would exempt them from having to agree to the other stages of the divorce. The Plaintiff would have full control over the entire divorce proceedings, and can change the pace accordingly based on his or her needs or preferences.
  2. Joint Divorce – For Alberta residents, this is new territory. If you choose this type of divorce, both you and your spouse would appear before Court and announce your intent to end your marriage. Both you and your spouse would be listed as Husband and Wife, without mention of any Plaintiff or Defendant. However, we cannot discount the possibility of relations becoming strained between both parties – if this is the case, either individual has the right to abandon proceedings and inform the Court accordingly. Terms and conditions of a standard divorce would then apply afterwards.

Each type of divorce has its advantages and drawbacks. If you want to know which type is most applicable to your situation, we will be happy to review your situation.

Filing for an Alberta divorce can be done at the nearest Court – for example, you can go to the LRT line to visit the newest Court if you are planning to file a Calgary divorce. An Edmonton divorce, on the other hand, can be filed at Edmonton’s Court of Queen’s Bench. You can find exact locations for Calgary divorce or Edmonton divorce proceedings as well as other information at the website of Alberta Courts. This would apply for other locations for an Alberta divorce outside of Calgary and Edmonton.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

The process of filing a divorce is painful enough as it is, so the last thing you want is to get into a financial rut. And this is why we try to make things as affordable as possible for you and your spouse. In fact, we charge only $1,100 for an Alberta divorce. These costs would already cover the $260 Court filing fee and most other applicable charges. Typically, all you need to spend on your end would be the costs of obtaining a marriage certificate if needed. For standard divorces, you would need to provide us with any photo of your soon-to-be ex-spouse. For those who have children, we charge an extra $100 for the procurement of related documents that will help us come up with an amount for child support payments. If your spouse does not live in Alberta (or outside of Canada, for that matter), we will also charge extra fees. If you are filing a standard divorce and have come up with a mutual agreement to have us serve your spouse, we can do that free of charge. We charge additional costs for a process server in the event your spouse refuses to play along. There may also be other exceptional situations wherein we would charge some extra money to have them resolved. However, the standard $1.100 we charge would take care of most applicable costs in most divorce situations. Of course, the aforementioned cases and other peculiar circumstances would require extra costs, but we will be upfront with these costs and inform you about them before divorce proceedings begin.

Free consultation services are available to anybody, may it be via telephone or email conversation. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your Alberta divorce, get in touch with us – we’ll let you know the type of services we can best offer for your case. And if your case is especially overwhelming, we can refer you to Alberta Divorce Lawyers to sort out the matter. Our ultimate goal is to make the divorce process as stress-free and affordable for you as possible.

Divorce in Alberta – Standard and Joint