Divorce, Separation and Common Law Separation Lawyers
We understand that divorce and separation is a difficult and emotional time in your life.
Our family lawyers are committed to helping you settle your divorce matter and if need be, navigate the Court system, ensuring that you do not feel lost or overwhelmed with the legal process.
Common Divorce Questions
Some common questions we see when considering getting divorced or separating from your spouse are:
- Can you get a divorce without the consent of your spouse?
- How long will the divorce process take?
- What will a divorce cost?
- When can I legally change my last name?
- Can you be separated and live in the same house?
- How do you get legally separated?
- My ex cheated on me, does that mean the court will take my side?
Some common questions when looking at separating from your common law partner are:
- Do I have any rights to our property?
- Can I get spousal support?
- How long do you have to live together to be considered common-law?
- Do you have the same rights as a married couple?
- Can a common-law spouse take half of my assets?
Divorce comes at a stage in life where you no longer wish to be married and have decided to separate from your spouse.
Divorces have many factors that need to be taken into consideration such as property, children, spousal and child support, access and custody.
Divorces are not granted by the court until you and your spouse have been separated for one year. However, you do not need to wait the entire year to settle your property, custody and support issues or to file a divorce (although the time to complete the divorce will be at least one year from your date of separation)
There are, generally speaking, two different types of divorce that we usually see:
What Is A Contested Divorce?
If either your or your ex dispute the grounds for divorce or if you are unable to agree on the terms of your divorce, including property, child care or support arrangements, then it is a contested divorce.
In cases that are contested, the court usually will not grant the divorce until you have settled the all of the disputes between yourselves.
If you cannot agree, you could end up in trial to have a Justice listen to both sides of the case and make the decisions for you.
If you can reach an agreement on property, child care and support, you can apply to the Court for a divorce judgment once you have been separated for one year.
What is An Uncontested Divorce?
If either of you do not dispute the grounds for divorce and are able to reach an agreement regarding child care, property and financial arrangements, you can apply to the Court to grant a divorce without appearing in Court.
Once again you will need to wait for a one year period before asking for the Court to grant your divorce judgment. However, you can have a Minutes of Settlement, or agreement, in place prior to asking for the divorce that sets out the terms for your divorce.
Once your divorce has been granted, you will need to wait for 31 days before the Court provides you with a Certificate of Divorce. They will not provide you with a certificate until the 32nd day.
You cannot remarry until you have a copy of the divorce certificate. If you want to be married outside of the province or country, you may need a court-certified copy to do so.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce In Alberta?
- You and your spouse have been separated for one year.
- Your spouse has committed adultery.
- Your spouse has treated you with intolerable mental or physical cruelty.
Who Can Apply For A Divorce?
You can apply to the courts to be divorced at any time after your separation, but in order for the Courts to grant your divorce, you must meet the following requirements:
- Separated for One Year.
- You or your spouse must have resided in Alberta for at least one year prior to commencing your divorce proceeding.
- You and your spouse must agree to the terms of the divorce. If you do not agree, the divorce cannot proceed until all outstanding matters have been settled or you have an order from the court.
- If there are children of the marriage, all issues with respect to custody and child support need to be resolved between you and your spouse.
- You and your partner have an agreement with respect to the division of matrimonial property. If you have not resolved property issues, you will need to have an order from the court ordering what is to be done with all of the property.
- You will need your original Certificate of Marriage. If you were married in Alberta, it will need to be a copy from Vital Statistics. The ceremonial certificate you received on the day of your marriage will not be accepted by the provincial court’s divorce registry. You can obtain your Certificate of Marriage from VitalCertificates.ca if married in Canada or from USVitalRecords.org if married in the United States.
- If you were married outside of Canada or the United States, you need to apply for your original Certificate of Marriage or certified copy of the Marriage Registration from the equivalent of Vital Statistics in that country.
- If your Certificate of Marriage is not in English, you will need to have it translated. Each province has its own requirements for how the Certificate of Marriage is to be translated. Please contact us for more information.
Common Law Seperation
By definition, in the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, a common-law relationship is not a marriage. A common-law relationship arises in one of three ways:
- The two unmarried people have lived together for a continuous period of at least three years in which they share each other’s lives, are emotionally committed to each other, and function as an economic and domestic unit; or
- The two unmarried people have lived in a relationship of some permanence and have a child of the relationship by birth or adoption and in which they share each other’s lives, are emotionally committed to each other, and function as an economic and domestic unit; or
- The two unmarried people have entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement with each other.
Changes To The Matrimonial Property Act
On January 1, 2020, the Matrimonial Property Act will be renamed to the Family Property Act.
What that means is that the rules for married and unmarried couples will now be the same starting January 1, 2020.