Spectrum Family Law has many years of experience guiding clients through divorce and separation, so our family & divorce mediation experts will have many of the answers you are seeking.
The following questions and answers below provide general information about divorce for anyone who is considering or going through the divorce process in Alberta. If you still have questions after reading, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by selecting the office location nearest you and giving us a call, or sending us a message via the contact form below.
What do I need to do before I can file for Divorce?
Most people who file for divorce have a separation agreement. This document captures all of the decisions that you and your spouse have made about things like division of property, spousal support, child support, and parenting.
It is possible to apply for divorce without a signed agreement; however, this is rare unless there are no assets or children involved.
Statement of Claim for Divorce
Step 1: A divorce process starts with a document called a “Statement of Claim for Divorce”. If you are the person starting the divorce, you will be the Plaintiff and your spouse will be the Defendant. If your spouse is starting the divorce action, he or she is the Plaintiff and you are the Defendant.
You can also use a similar document which is called a “Statement of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property”. This second type will deal with property division at the same time – but it is not required.
Return the Statement of Claim for Divorce
Step 2: Once the Statement of Claim for Divorce is completed, it must be signed and taken to the Courthouse.
Serving the Defendant the Divorce Papers
Step 3: Once the Statement of Claim for Divorce is filed at the Courthouse, it must be “served” on the Defendant (your spouse). This means that it must be personally delivered to the Defendant. Please note that the Statement of Claim MUST be delivered to the Defendant by someone OTHER than you.
This can be a friend, family member, or a professional process server that you can hire to serve documents for you.
If it will be too difficult, or impossible, to serve the Defendant personally, you can ask the Court for an Order for Substitutional Service which will allow you to serve them in a different way. As well, if the Defendant lives outside of Canada, you will need to ask the Court for an Order to serve them outside of Canada.
Do not ignore the divorce statement of claim
If you are served with any legal document, never ignore it. This is especially important if you have been served with a divorce claim such as this. If you ignore the divorce claim, you will be noted as being in default. This means that you failed to participate in the process and that the process will continue without your input. Alberta Court orders can be granted without your knowledge, and they will bind upon you if this happens.
If you choose to ignore and avoid the process, it will more than likely result in your spouse receiving what they ask for from the court. It is very costly to try and reverse an ignored divorce statement of claim, if it’s even possible.
Remain calm when receiving the divorce statement of claim
When you are reviewing the divorce statement of claim document, it is important to remember that it is a template document. This means that your ex’s list of desired outcomes in the settlement is not realistic.
Although your ex may have requested certain things from the Alberta courts in their divorce statement of claim, this does not mean they are guaranteed to get them. In other words, try not to let anything in the document bother you too much.
If you can’t do that, then at least set up a consultation with one of our experienced divorce lawyers here at Aurora law, so we can help explain your rights and obligations under the law.
Pay attention to critical deadlines of dates served
Note any dates mentioned in the divorce statement of claim you were served. A divorce statement of claim is frequently accompanied by a financial disclosure request, which itself often has a court date on it. Add this date to your calendar and tell your lawyer about it.
Your lawyer needs all financial documents before the court date, so start working on gathering them as soon as possible. Do not give them to your spouse until after your lawyer has reviewed and discussed them with you.
What is presented and how it is presented are both critical when you receive divorce papers. For example, your lawyer will help you put together a monthly budget.
Learn More → Reasons why you should hire a family lawyer
Disputing the Statement of Claim of Divorce
Step 4: After service of the Statement of Claim, the Defendant has 20 days (1 month if he or she is out of province but still in Canada, and 2 months if outside of Canada) to dispute the Statement of Claim.
If the Defendant does not file a dispute (Statement of Defence), then you can go on with the other forms. If you are using one year of separation as your grounds for divorce, make sure that one year has passed before moving on to this step.
If the Defendant does not respond within the appropriate time period, the Plaintiff may file a Sworn Affidavit of Service, Noting in Default, Request for Divorce, Affidavit of Applicant, and a proposed Divorce Judgement. Your affidavit should include:
- Your original Marriage Certificate;
- A copy of any orders or agreements pertaining to your divorce, and
- A copy of any previous Certificates of Divorce, if applicable.
If you have children, you should also include Child Support Data Sheets, a Parenting After Separation Certificate or Exemption Form, and a Divorce Judgement that includes arrangements for the children.
The Signing of the Divorce Judgement
Step 5: The Clerk will then give the divorce file to a Justice to look at. Once the Justice is satisfied with the documents and evidence presented, he or she will sign the Divorce Judgement.
The Judgement will then be returned to the Clerk, who will mail one copy each to the Plaintiff and the Defendant at the addresses given in the Request for Divorce. This process usually takes 4-6 weeks.
Requesting a Certificate of Divorce
Step 6: Thirty-one days after the Divorce Judgement has been signed, it becomes final and the parties can make a request for a Certificate of Divorce from the Courthouse, which is the final document of the divorce action.
This is an important document for both the plaintiff and defendant to keep because it proves that they are no longer married. You will also need this certificate if you want to re-marry.
Other steps may be needed if the defendant lives outside of Canada, if the defendant cannot be located, or if the plaintiff is asking for maintenance (support) or other costs.
Contact Our Family Lawyers For Divorce Today
Due to the emotionally charged nature of divorce cases, it is important to have an objective advocate assist you.
The lawyers at Spectrum Family Law can provide you with practical divorce solutions so that you can get through this difficult time in a cost-effective manner.
Although it is always preferable to negotiate a resolution of the issues arising out of a separation, our family lawyers are prepared to go to court when necessary to ensure your rights are respected.
Please contact us now to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers. We look forward to meeting with you.
We currently have three offices across Alberta — Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer. We serve the entire province of Alberta (and BC). We also have the infrastructure to work with any of our clients virtually — even the furthest regions of Alberta.
We also have a dedicated intake form to help you get the ball rolling. Our intake team will review your specific case and advise you on the next steps to take as well as what to expect moving forward. That’s the best way to schedule an appointment
Our offices are generally open 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., Mon—Fri.
Allison provides a balanced approach to family law files and strives to help families in the midst of separation and divorce. She has a wealth of experience in litigation including appearing in trials, Special Chambers applications and case conferences.