If you’re facing separation and divorce, you will have a lot of questions. Fairway has guided clients through this pivotal life change since 2006, so our mediation experts have many of the answers. Below you’ll find resources and information for commonly asked questions, explanations of terms and documents you should know, and insight into what to expect during the separation and divorce process. If you still have questions or want to request a consultation with our mediators select the office closest to your home.
A separation agreement usually accompanies a divorce application. While it is possible to apply for divorce before you have a signed separation agreement, it is not common unless there are no assets or children. The separation agreement is the agreement that captures all the decisions you and your spouse have agreed to either by consent or court order. The separation agreement will address, division of property, spousal support, child support and parenting.
The separation agreement is a culmination of all the negotiations you have made with your spouse. There are a few ways you can get to a consensus on the terms in your separation agreement.
The divorce process in Alberta may take approximately 2-3 months before the court enters a divorce judgment. This allows time for:
To file for divorce, you can either do it yourself or you can solicit a service to file for divorce for you.
The court filing fees for a divorce in Alberta is approximately $260. Divorce documents will be filed with the clerk of Court of Queen's Bench.
Self-representing in matrimonial issues is common if the couple is unable to mediate or negotiate together and they do not want to hire a lawyer to represent them. A person who chooses to self-represent is acting on behalf of himself or herself before a court.
This information explains how to make an application in court in Alberta. Representing Yourself In Family Court
There are many misconceptions about the term common law. In Alberta, the phrase “Adult Interdependent Relationships (AIR) is used instead of common law.
This booklet explains what constitutes an Adult Interdependent Relationship in Alberta. Adult Interdependent Relationships
Under the Family Law Act, there is a responsibility of the parent to support the child; even in the situation that one parent does not participate in the physical care of the child/children. Child support is the legal right of the child.
The parent who the child lives with the majority of the time is entitled to receive child support from the other parent. If a child spends time equally with both parents, the parent with the higher income will most often be responsible to pay the other parent child support.
Child support in Alberta is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines follow certain rules that the courts use to set child support amounts.
The amounts are based on how much the payer earns annually and how many children the payer is paying to support. Each province has its own calculation this is the table for support in Alberta.
Use the Federal Child Support Guidelines to calculate the amount of child support to be paid monthly. For a quick calculation try the child support calculator.
To figure out the correct child support amount in the Federal Tables, you need to know the paying parent's annual income. The income for determining child support in Alberta may be different from the income for determining taxes. More information can be found on how to calculate income in this Step-by-Step Guide.
Under the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the table amount is determined by:
Parents in Alberta receive the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). When parents separate, the parent who claims the child for tax purposes receives this UCCB payment. The Universal Child Care Benefit is not always included in guideline income. This benefit is not included in the income calculation when:
The age of majority in Alberta is 18 years of age.
The Federal Child Support guidelines do not assist those parents that are not making use of the Divorce Act. It is desirable to make sure that all children are treated the same for child support purposes. Therefore, the Alberta Guidelines were created as part of the Family Law Act to be used in all cases where the Divorce Act may not apply.
Child custody and parenting information: this booklet explains what constitutes an Adult Interdependent Relationship in Alberta. Child Custody & Parenting
Spousal support in Alberta is defined as financial support to assist with living expenses that is paid to a former spouse under an agreement.
A couple is considered to be in an “Adult Interdependent Relationship” if that couple is in a relationship of interdependence with another adult:
If parties are applying for spousal support as part of a divorce, the court will apply the spousal support provisions of the Divorce Act (Canada). The court will apply the spousal support provisions of the Family Law Act if:
These two statutes are similar but have some differences.
Both the Divorce Act (Canada) and the Family Law Act (Alberta) discuss the objectives of a spousal support order. The objectives are to:
Both statutes say that the misconduct of the parties is not to be considered when deciding whether or not to grant spousal support and the amount to be paid.
The Support Advisory Guidelines can help spouses figure out the amount of spousal support that should be paid. The guidelines take into account the income of both spouses, length of the marriage, and whether children are involved.
MySupportCalculator.ca is a website with a support calculator and can provide an estimated dollar amount that can be adjusted based on specific circumstances.
Once an agreement is received for spousal support, parties can enroll in the Alberta Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). MEP is a government program that can monitor payments and can take action to assist in receiving spousal support payments. Click Here to register with the Alberta MEP.
Financial support information: this booklet explains the law around financial support in Alberta around child and spousal support. Financial Support PDF
All provinces have rules regarding the division of property; however, each province is different. Be careful reading that you are looking at information that is specific to Alberta.
In Alberta, if you are married or Adult Interdependent Partners and separated on January 1, 2020 or later, the Family Property Act will apply. If you are married and separated on December 31, 2019 or before, the Matrimonial Property Act will apply.
Matrimonial/Family Property in Alberta (with a few exceptions) is the property and debts that have been acquired during the marriage or cohabitation (depending on which legislation applies in your situation).
It also includes debts such as:
In Alberta the total value of the property should be split equally unless it would be unconscionable to do so. This does not mean that each individual item is split (such as splitting a vehicle in half) but rather, the party who is not keeping an asset would receive half of the value of that asset in another form of payment.
There are items that are not part of matrimonial property in Alberta and are therefore not divided. These include items such as:
However, just because a spouse received one/some of these, it doesn't automatically mean that they are exempt. It also depends on a number of factors including:
Pensions are considered property under the Matrimonial/Family Property Act. There are two types of pensions: private pensions (by employment) and the Canada Pension Plan. Some pensions may have legislation that determines how the pension will be divided when a marriage is ending.
Property division information: this booklet explains the law around property division when a relationship ends in Alberta. Property Division PDF
Divorce mediation is a speedier and less costly way to dissolve a marriage than going through the courts and is mandated by the Divorce Act. With the help of a neutral third party such as Fairway, you and your partner will sit down together or perhaps apart to figure out an agreement encompassing all aspects of your divorce, from property division and spousal support to child decision making responsibilities. There are two types of divorce mediation, open and closed. Open mediation may be disclosed, while closed mediation is strictly confidential. Most family mediations are closed.
Divorce resolution through mediation requires teamwork. The mediator acts as a facilitator and guide, keeping the conversation moving forward and ensuring that all topics are covered. However, he or she will not provide legal advice. Therefore, it is best for both parties to seek legal advice from an independent lawyer before signing any final binding agreement.
Successful divorce mediation results in a non-binding, written agreement, that will be drafted into a binding separation agreement and then filed with the court. Upon court approval, it becomes legally binding. Enforcement may be sought in exactly the same way as a court order.
Divorce mediation can be challenging, as cooperation is essential. Through our proprietary process, though, which involves multiple professionals, we have helped many very contentious couples and financially complex families negotiate a fair and equitable settlement. Whenever possible, divorce resolution through mediation should be attempted, as it is much faster and less expensive than a court battle.
Deals with divorce, as well as claims for child and spousal support, and custody and access, in divorce cases. Federal Divorce Act
The Act is part of the Alberta Justice's Family Law Strategy aimed at creating a simple, integrated and effective family law system that promotes the well-being of children and families. Alberta's Family Law Act
The purpose of the MPA is to make sure that property is divided in a fair way between spouses when they separate. The MPA starts from a presumption that property and debts acquired by either party during the marriage are to be shared equally. The Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) collects court-ordered child support, spousal and partner support, and enforces as needed. Maintenance Enforcement Act