Divorce in Alberta

Divorce in Your Province

Fairway Solutions

We have five offices in your province and offer remote mediation across Alberta.

General

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.

What do I need to do before I can file for Divorce?

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.

How Do I get a Separation Agreement in Alberta?

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.

  1. You and your spouse can use the traditional approach of hiring lawyers to fight and litigate on your behalf.
  2. You can do it yourself if you and your spouse are in agreement on everything.
  3. Or you can choose to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. Mediation is more commonly used now, given that the 2021 changes to the Divorce Act requires alternative dispute resolution, which may include mediation, unless it is inappropriate (ex. Situations of family violence). The divorce laws in Canada are well defined, and families find the outcome of fighting with lawyers does not justify the time or the cost. With the new Divorce Act, mediation is the first choice, even for divorces that are financially complicated and conflicted. Contact the Fairway closest to you to find out how to get started.

How do I file for Divorce in Alberta

The divorce process in Alberta may take approximately 2-3 months before the court enters a divorce judgment. This allows time for:

  • Time for the court to obtain a divorce clearance certificate from Ottawa
  • Time for any waiting periods
  • Time for the courts to complete the processing of a divorce

To file for divorce, you can either do it yourself or you can solicit a service to file for divorce for you.

  • DIY divorce filing is done by obtaining the documents from the courthouse, filling out the documents together and filing the documents with the courthouse. It sounds simple. However, for couples with properties, support and children the forms are more complicated.
  • Obtaining assistance to file for divorce requires an additional fee, however you will leave the cumbersome paperwork and court running up to the professionals.

What is the cost to file for Divorce in Alberta?

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.

How to Self-Represent yourself in Alberta Family Court

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.

Families and the Law – Representing Yourself in Family 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.

Families and the Law – Living Together – Adult Interdependent Relationships

This booklet explains what constitutes an Adult Interdependent Relationship in Alberta. Adult Interdependent Relationships

Custody, Parenting & Child Support

Child Support in Alberta

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.

What are the child support guidelines in Alberta?

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.

How do you calculate child 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.

How is annual income calculated for child support?

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:

How does the Universal Child Care Benefit apply to child support?

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:

  • You are calculating how much each parent should pay for special expenses
  • There is a special expense for the child for whom the Universal Child Care Benefit is paid.

What is the age of majority in Alberta?

The age of majority in Alberta is 18 years of age.

Why are there Alberta Guidelines as well as Federal Child Support Guidelines?

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.

Families and the Law - Child Custody & Parenting

Child custody and parenting information: this booklet explains what constitutes an Adult Interdependent Relationship in Alberta. Child Custody & Parenting

Spousal Support

Spousal Support in Alberta

Spousal support in Alberta is defined as financial support to assist with living expenses that is paid to a former spouse under an agreement.

When can spousal support be ordered in Alberta?

A couple is considered to be in an “Adult Interdependent Relationship” if that couple is in a relationship of interdependence with another adult:

  • For three years; or
  • For less than 3 years if you have signed an Adult Interdependent Partnership agreement; or
  • For less than 3 years if the two of you have a child together.

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:

  • The parties are applying for spousal support after living in an Adult Interdependent Relationship; or
  • The parties were married but have not yet started a divorce action.

These two statutes are similar but have some differences.

What are the Objectives of Spousal Support?

Both the Divorce Act (Canada) and the Family Law Act (Alberta) discuss the objectives of a spousal support order. The objectives are to:

  • Recognize any economic advantages or disadvantages to the spouses coming out of the marriage or occurring because the marriage has ended
  • Divide up any financial costs arising from the care of the children over and above the child support
  • Lessen any financial hardship of the spouses which may have taken place because of the end of the marriage
  • As much as possible, encourage the spouses to become able to support themselves within a reasonable period of time

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.

How do I calculate the amount of support 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.

Can I enforce the spousal support agreement in Alberta?

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.

Support Advisory Guidelines.

Families and the Law - Financial Support

Financial support information: this booklet explains the law around financial support in Alberta around child and spousal support. Financial Support PDF

Property/Financial

Property Division in Alberta

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.

What is considered family property in Alberta?

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).

This includes:

  • Vehicles
  • RRSP’s
  • Pension plans
  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Matrimonial homes
  • Recreational property
  • Investments

It also includes debts such as:

  • Credits cards
  • Lines of credit
  • Mortgages
  • Credit cards
  • Income tax

How is property divided in Alberta?

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.

Are there assets not considered matrimonial/family property in Alberta?

There are items that are not part of matrimonial property in Alberta and are therefore not divided. These include items such as:

  • Assets brought into the marriage/cohabitation
  • Inheritances
  • Gifts intended for one person
  • Personal injury settlements
  • Insurance proceeds not in respect of party compensating for a loss to one person

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:

  • The current value of the item
  • If the item has decreased in value
  • If the item was sold
  • If the money was put into a joint asset or how the money was used

How is a pension divided in Alberta?

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.

Families and the Law - Property Division

Property division information: this booklet explains the law around property division when a relationship ends in Alberta. Property Division PDF

Divorce Mediation and Resolution

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.

Laws

Federal

Federal Divorce Act

Deals with divorce, as well as claims for child and spousal support, and custody and access, in divorce cases. Federal Divorce Act

Provincial

Alberta’s Family Law 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

Get Started with an initial Consultation

Do you think Fairway might be for you? Talking to us can help make sense of what your next best step is. Just 30 minutes and you’ll have more clarity.

Please fill out this form and we’ll be in touch to schedule your consultation.
Please verify that you’re a human. *

We offer our prospective clients a no charge consultation with one of our senior divorce mediators. They will discuss your situation, needs and concerns to find out which of our services is best suited for you. Whether it is mediation, financial guidance or litigation support, our team will set the stage for a timely resolution. Stay empowered and in control of your future, finances and freedom.


Before you call a Lawyer, call us.