Ending a marriage is a serious decision that should never be taken lightly. The reasons for ending a marriage can vary from one couple to another. Nonetheless, it is a significant life event that can be emotionally and mentally taxing. It is for this reason that having a solid plan in place can help alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that comes with ending a relationship.

While the decision to leave may be simple, the process of obtaining a separation and divorce can be complex and overwhelming. It is common for many people to be unsure of the differences between the two. A separation agreement outlines the terms of your separation, addressing issues such as division of property, parenting plans, child and spousal support. On the other hand, a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage.

In order to legally dissolve a marriage, a separation is required before obtaining a divorce. However, it’s important to note that ending a relationship does not necessarily require a divorce. Nevertheless, if your ultimate goal is to remarry, obtaining a divorce becomes a necessity.

The path you take when ending your marriage may depend on several factors, including how long you have been married. For instance, if you’re young and have been married for only a few years, you may have fewer assets and no children, unlike a couple who has been married for decades. Regardless of your situation, it’s vital to seek legal advice.

At Kurie Moore Law Group, we are always available to offer constructive and creative solutions to help you navigate the emotional and legal challenges that come with separation.

It’s wise to consult with a lawyer before separation, so you understand your rights and can prepare an exit strategy that won’t compromise your position moving forward. Practical strategies can also be discussed to assist you in these preparations.

Preparation is key

Divorce is a significant decision in one’s life, and it’s crucial to approach it with care and thoughtfulness. Once you’ve come to the realization that your relationship is no longer working, it’s time to start planning.

Consider not only the legal aspects of the divorce but also practical matters, such as where you’ll live and what belongings you’ll take with you if you’re the one leaving the marital home. Do you have a support system in place in case you need help? How will you manage your finances? And most importantly, what will happen with your children?

Ideally, you should take some time to plan before discussing your decision to end the relationship with your spouse. This will ensure that you’re not making any hasty decisions in the heat of the moment. Try to visualize what your life will look like after the divorce and how you can best prepare for it.

However, if you’re in an abusive relationship, extensive planning may not be possible. In this case, your safety, as well as the safety of any children involved, should be your top priority. Fortunately, the province of Alberta offers emergency funding for those escaping a violent relationship. Eligible individuals can receive help with expenses and other forms of support, including emergency transportation to a safe place such as a shelter or hotel if shelters are unavailable.

There are also other considerations that may not immediately come to mind, such as changing your will or beneficiaries. Seeking legal advice early on can help ease some of your concerns and ensure that you’re well-prepared for any legal proceedings that may follow.

Gather financial information

When it comes to ending a marriage, deciding how to divide assets can be one of the most challenging tasks. As a responsible parent, you are already accustomed to making decisions regarding your children’s well-being. However, determining how to divide your shared assets is equally crucial, and it is essential to approach this task with a clear head.

Gathering all the relevant financial information is the first step towards avoiding conflicts during the asset division process. This includes collecting bank account and credit card statements, investment details, and RRSPs. By having all the necessary documentation, you can prevent any misunderstandings or disagreements in the future.

In addition, collecting pension statements, automobile ownership documents, or evidence of personal assets such as artwork or jewelry can also be beneficial. It is equally important to document all debts, such as mortgages or lines of credit, to get a complete financial picture. If you brought assets into the relationship, it is crucial to have evidence of sole ownership.

Both you and your former partner have an obligation to disclose all relevant financial information in a sworn or affirmed statement. Providing false information or withholding important details is against the law and can have serious legal consequences.

To ensure a smooth and hassle-free asset division process, make copies of all important documents, no matter how insignificant they may seem. The more information you have, the better prepared you will be.

Remember that the goal is to approach this situation with empathy and understanding while ensuring that your rights are protected. By collecting all relevant financial information and having proper documentation, you can avoid an acrimonious divorce.

Date of separation

When a marriage or common-law relationship comes to an end, the date of separation becomes a crucial factor that affects several issues. To be recognized as legally separated, it is necessary to establish that you and your partner are living separately and apart with the intention of terminating the relationship.

It is worth noting that you can be considered legally separated even if you continue living under the same roof, provided you are not behaving as a couple. However, if you still share a bed, prepare and eat meals together, or maintain joint bank accounts, it could be challenging to prove that you are indeed separated.

If you wish to obtain a divorce, you must be separated for at least one year, unless you can demonstrate that your spouse committed adultery or has been physically or mentally abusive. This may include instances of violence, constant verbal abuse, excessive drug use, or alcoholism.

It is important to remember that in Alberta, you can resume your relationship with your spouse for up to 90 days during the separation period without having to start the one-year separation timeline again. The date of separation could play a critical role in matters of family property, especially if you were unmarried and separated before January 1, 2020.

You do not have to wait until the one-year separation period is over before starting legal proceedings or resolving issues such as parenting or the division of family assets.

Telling your spouse

Breaking the news to your significant other that you want to end your relationship is never easy. However, there are some important matters that you need to address, particularly if you have children.

The way you and your partner approach parenting decisions, including where your children will reside, how you’ll share parenting responsibilities, and how you’ll manage weekends, holidays, and vacations, is crucial. Additionally, you’ll need to decide if the children will still have access to other family members such as grandparents. Remember, any decision made by the court during your separation or divorce will prioritize the children’s best interests.

Another important topic to discuss is how you’ll divide any assets and debts you’ve accumulated as a couple. In the case of a shared property like your matrimonial home, you’ll need to decide if you’ll sell it and how you’ll divide the proceeds. Do you have the necessary funding to take over the debt associated with any assets you wish to keep? If you have a business enterprise together, you’ll need to decide if you’ll retain joint ownership or if one spouse will take full ownership. It’s also important to discuss whether or not one spouse will be entitled to support.

Although these are difficult and uncomfortable conversations to have, it’s crucial to approach them with an empathetic and understanding tone. The decisions you make now will have a significant impact on your future, your children’s future, and the rest of your family. It’s important to keep everyone’s best interests in mind and to seek professional help if needed.

We can help with your plan

In conclusion, ending a marriage can be emotionally and mentally draining, and having a solid plan in place can help alleviate stress and uncertainty.

Kurie Moore Law Group can provide constructive and creative solutions to help individuals navigate the emotional and legal challenges that come with separation. Seeking legal advice early on can help individuals understand their rights and prepare an exit strategy that won’t compromise their position moving forward. Please contact us now to schedule a consultation with one of our lawyers.

Divorce can be a challenging time for couples and their families, and one of the most complicated aspects of this process is the division of property. In Alberta, property division is governed by the Matrimonial Property Act, which provides guidelines for how assets and debts should be distributed among spouses. In this article, we will discuss what you need to know about property division in family law in Alberta.

The basics of property division in Alberta The Matrimonial Property Act applies to married couples who are separating or divorcing, and it outlines how property is to be divided in the event of a breakdown of the marriage. The Act states that all property acquired during the marriage is considered matrimonial property and is subject to division between the spouses. However, certain assets are exempt from division, including property owned before the marriage, inheritances, and gifts.

In Alberta, property is divided based on the principle of equalization, which means that each spouse is entitled to an equal share of the marital property. This is determined by calculating the net family property, which is the value of the assets and debts that each spouse acquired during the marriage. The spouse with the higher net family property must pay the other spouse an equalization payment to ensure that each spouse receives an equal share of the marital property.

What Factors Are Considered in Property Division?
When determining how property should be divided, the court will consider several factors, including each spouse’s financial contribution to the marriage, the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse and any children, and any agreements made between the spouses. In some cases, a court may also take into account any misconduct by either spouse that affected the value of the property or the other spouse’s ability to acquire property.

How to Protect Your Assets During Property Division
If you are going through a divorce or separation, it is important to take steps to protect your assets. First, it is important to document all of your assets, including bank accounts, investments, and property deeds. You should also avoid making any major financial decisions until after the divorce is finalized, as this could impact the division of property.

What is Considered Property?
Property can include any assets or debts that a person or entity owns. In the context of family law, property can include real estate, personal property (such as vehicles, furniture, and jewelry), investments, bank accounts, pensions, and debts (such as credit card balances, loans, and mortgages). It is important to note that property that was acquired before a marriage, or received as a gift or inheritance, may be exempt from division depending on the laws of the specific jurisdiction.

What Is A Matrimonial Home Under The MPA?
Under the Matrimonial Property Act (MPA) in Alberta, a matrimonial home is defined as any property that is ordinarily occupied by both spouses at the time of separation. This can include a house, condominium, apartment, or any other type of dwelling.

The matrimonial home is treated differently than other types of property under the MPA, and it is subject to special rules in terms of division and possession. Specifically, each spouse has an equal right to remain in the matrimonial home after separation, regardless of who owns the property.

This means that a court may order that one spouse be allowed to remain in the home, or that the home be sold and the proceeds divided between the spouses. The rules surrounding matrimonial homes can be complex, so it is important to seek the advice of a qualified family law lawyer if you have questions about your rights and obligations in relation to your matrimonial home.

What if We Can’t Agree on Property Division?
If you and your spouse cannot agree on property division, you may need to seek the assistance of a family law lawyer or a mediator to help you negotiate a settlement. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party helps the parties to reach an agreement. In some cases, the court may also be asked to make a decision on property division. If the court is required to intervene, it will make a decision based on the laws of the jurisdiction, and take into account various factors, such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, and the needs of any children involved.

It is also important to seek the advice of a qualified family law lawyer who can guide you through the property division process and ensure that your rights are protected. A lawyer can provide valuable advice on how to negotiate with your spouse, represent you in court, and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.

Navigating property division in family law can be a complex and emotionally challenging process, but it is important to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair settlement. If you are going through a divorce or separation, it is important to seek the advice of a qualified family law lawyer who can provide valuable guidance and support. The lawyers at Kurie Moore Law Group have extensive experience in all aspects of family law, including property division, and are committed to helping their clients achieve the best possible outcome.

COVID-19 is an unprecedented situation for everyone and has left many parents wondering how COVID-19 will impact their parenting orders or agreements that were in place before the outbreak of COVID-19, and whether or not one parent’s time with the child or children should be restricted. Fortunately, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (the superior court of the province) has released a decision and given some firm guidelines about how parenting should proceed during COVID-19.

In SAS v LMS (2020 ABQB 287), the father applied to the Court for a substantial change in parenting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Court summarized the principles used in making decision exactly as follows:

  1. Parents are expected to address COVID-19 issues and concerns with each other before taking any action (including applying for variations or relief from the Court) to resolve these issues and concerns in good faith and to act reasonably in exploring strategies that will first and foremost ensure the health and safety of their children;
  2. Where face to face access or parenting time presents different risks in the different households, the parties should consider strategies that have the children in the less risky environment but in a manner that maximizes virtual contact between the children and the other parent;
  3. Court orders are meant to be followed. There should be no unilateral withholding of access or parenting time except in true emergency situations as described above where there is imminent risk to a child’s health or safety;
  4. Whether under the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act, varying existing court orders requires a change in circumstances and will be determined on the basis of the best interests of the child or children. COVID-19 is not an automatic change in circumstances; the party seeking a variation must establish that their family circumstances have been impacted in a way that warrants temporary change in the order;
  5. The burden or onus of proof is on the parent seeking a change in the status quo or the existing court-ordered parenting. It is not satisfied by suspicion or speculation, but as with any matter involving circumstantial evidence, it may be satisfied by logical and reasonable inferences from conduct;
  6. If an application cannot be made because of the urgency of the situation an application by the defaulting party must be made as soon as possible after learning of the emergency;
    Applications based on speculation, mistrust, or fear without credible evidence of material non-compliance posing unacceptable risks to the children are unlikely to get permission to proceed as an emergency application, let alone be successful;
  7. Respondents must be prepared to unequivocally commit that he or she will meticulously comply with all COVID-19 safety measures; and
  8. Non-compliant parents can expect no second chances.

An important take-away from this decision is contained in #3 where the Court stated that orders are meant to be followed and that parenting time should not be withheld (unless there are exceptional circumstances). The Court is also very clear that if an application to change parenting is to be heard, then it must have some verifiable evidence on which the Court can rely in making a decision.

The Court in SAS v LMS also stated that “[the Court does] not think the default position should be that the household with the lowest risk level should be the home where the children reside at during the pandemic, with the other parent having virtual access only.”

SAS v LMS was decided on April 24, 2020 and (as of the date of this blog post) remains the leading case in Alberta on how parenting should proceed during COVID-19.

NOTE: This blog post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice regarding the content of this blog post and how it applies to your situation, please contact the office to schedule an appointment to consult with a family lawyer and they would be happy to assist you.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges for families wishing to resolve their disputes through court ordered processes. Despite these challenges, court operations have resumed, and both the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta are hearing new family matters.

The newly implemented Family Docket in Queens’ Bench strives to provide a more flexible approach to family matters and a presiding Justice will hear the matter and provide an opinion on the best way to proceed by way of “endorsement.” The Provincial Court of Alberta is dealing with family applications the same as before the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do I schedule a Family Docket Date in Queens’ Bench?

To secure a hearing date in Family Docket in Queen’s Bench, a claimant must select an available date (they go quick!) and file a Notice to Attend. Once the Notice to Attend is filed, it must be served on the opposing party no later than five (5) days before the scheduled hearing date.

Most hearings will be held via Webex or by telephone. Details will be included on the Notice to Attend form provided by the Court once the matter is scheduled.

What outcome can I expect from Family Docket?

Possible outcomes from a Family Docket hearing include, but are not limited to:

  • Consent order;
  • Referral to alternate dispute resolution, i.e. mediation, arbitration, collaborative processes;
  • Regular chambers date; and/or
  • A special chambers date.

How we can help

Our family lawyers have become familiar with the new Family Docket process and can help you secure a hearing date, file the proper materials, and serve the materials on the opposing party. For more information on the new Family Docket, please visit this link.

NOTE: This blog post is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Should you require legal advice regarding the content of this blog post and how it applies to your situation, please contact the office to schedule an appointment to consult with a family lawyer and they would be happy to assist you.