Divorce Law in Alberta: 6 Things to Know

Divorce is a life-changing experience with emotional and financial consequences, especially for a couple with children. In order to make the process smooth and amicable, it is imperative to be conversant with the laws and procedures of divorce in Alberta. 

If you are going through a divorce, or planning to get divorce, you have come to the right place. Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions, including the applicable laws, the costs associated with the process, the division of property, the grounds for divorce, etc. 

Which law regulates divorce in Alberta?

The Divorce Act is a federal legislative instrument enacted in 1968 and amended in 2021 to regulate the matters related to divorce in Alberta. It outlines laws concerning divorce, separation, parenting, child support, and spousal support. Therefore, if you are looking for divorce, you should be conversant with the key provisions of the Act.

Who gets what in a divorce in Alberta?

One of the most frequently asked questions during divorce is the division of family property. Often, the family property becomes the most contested issue, which delays divorce, and the parties may end up in litigation. Therefore, clarifying what you are entitled to as a divorcing spouse is essential. 

The most significant legislation dealing with family property is the Family Property Act. It states that marital assets and debts must be divided equitably between the parties. Equitably is often interpreted as equal, and the property is split 50-50 between the parties. However, in some cases, the court may decide otherwise, considering the conditions of the particular case. 

When a couple divorces, both partners have to declare their assets. Among these assets, the properties accrued during a marriage are called family assets. These include;

  1. All legal titles such as land, cash, vehicles, etc.
  2. Any gifts are given to the couple jointly by friends, family, and acquaintances.
  3. Assets intended for joint use such as investment, bank account, etc.

The properties of the spouses that they have inherited individually or gifted to one partner from a third party, proceeds of personal injury lawsuit, are exempted and are not subject to division.

What are the grounds for Divorce in Alberta?

Although, each couple comes up with its own particular set of reasons for divorce. However, to claim divorce in Alberta, the law provides three grounds: cruelty, separation, and/or adultery.

  1. Cruelty

If one of the partners adopts a cruel attitude towards the other, it becomes a valid ground for divorce. Cruelty can be physical and mental stress, such as violence, constant verbal abuse, or excessive use of drugs. If you want to get a divorce on this ground, you must substantiate your claims with supporting evidence unless the other partner admits to cruelty. Therefore, in these circumstances, the case often goes to trial. It is essential to mention that unkindness or mood swings will not amount to cruelty. Secondly, if a partner accuses the other of cruelty but continues cohabitating, it becomes difficult to prove cruelty in court.

  1. Adultery

If one partner has sex with another person while in a marital relationship, it amounts to adultery. To prove this, the accusing partner has to provide evidence to support the claim. If the other partner admits the commission of adultery and signs the standard form affidavit, there is no need for evidence. It is also important to mention that the spouse who had an affair cannot file for divorce on this ground, and only the other partner, who has been cheated upon, can apply for divorce. 

  1. Separation

It is the most commonly used ground for divorce in Alberta. To avail of this ground, the spouses must live separately for at least one year. In the majority of the cases, the spouses live in separate homes, but even if the spouse lives under one roof, independently, it means they cook, sleep, and eat in separate rooms and do not attend social gatherings together, the court will consider its separation. 

You can file for divorce as soon as you are separated, but the court cannot finalize the divorce until the one year period of separation has been completed.

What are the types of divorce?

Divorce is generally categorized into two types, contested and uncontested divorce. 

Uncontested divorce refers to a case in which both partners have an agreement on the various issues relevant to their divorce. This can include issues related to the parenting and decision -making responsibility of the children, child support and/or other obligations. 

Whereas contested divorce refers to cases in which the parties do not agree on obligations, and it often goes to court and takes more time. In case of uncontested divorce, both the partners seeking divorce have to fill out different forms.

All these forms are available here: https://albertacourts.ca/kb/areas-of-law/family/divorce-forms

Section 7 of the Divorce Act

Section 7 of the Act deals with different provisions, which include;

  1. Best interest of children: It deals with the interests of children during and after divorce. It mandates the court to prioritize the child’s best interest while deciding parental responsibilities. To determine the child’s best interests, the court will consider the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs, as well as their age, gender, and cultural background. 
  1. Reconciliation: section 7.7 mandates the legal advisor to inform the parties about the provisions of law regarding reconciliation, marriage counseling and guidance related to facilities known to the legal adviser that might be able to assist the spouse in achieving reconciliation. Similarly, legal practitioners are bound to encourage their clients to resolve matters during divorce so the divorce becomes easy for both parties.

How much does a divorce cost in Alberta?

In general, an uncontested divorce in Alberta costs, on average, around $2000-$3000 CAD, whereas a contested divorce costs around $15000-$27000 CAD. Every divorce has different circumstances, and Alberta has no uniform divorce costs because individual factors determine the cost.

Should I hire the services of a lawyer for Divorce?

In cases of divorce, it is highly recommended to hire a lawyer with experience in dealing with family matters. A lawyer will help the couple decide the matters amicably and ensure his client’s interests in the parenting responsibilities and support of the children, division of the property, etc.

If you want to end your divorce amicably and protect your interest, Juriscorp Law is the place for you. We have a team of lawyers with years of experience in family law. Our lawyers are aware of the sensitivity of divorce and its impact on children, and we are committed to protecting the best interest of our clients. Our firm has been listed as one of the top divorce law firms in Edmonton on Attorney Finder.

Get in touch with us and free yourself from the stress of divorce. 

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