The Divorce Process in Alberta: The Steps to Follow and When You Need a Divorce Lawyer
If you are thinking of filing for divorce, you likely don't know where to begin. The end of your marriage may be emotional and overwhelming, and figuring out a legal process on top of the personal changes you're experiencing simply adds to this stress.
If this sounds like your situation, you're in the right place. This article will help you understand the divorce process in Alberta, what to expect, and why you should consider getting a divorce lawyer to help you navigate the process.
Steps to File for Divorce
Before filing, you need to determine if you are eligible for a divorce in Alberta. You must have lived in Alberta for a minimum of one year before filing for divorce.
There are certain grounds for divorce, including living apart from your spouse for one year or more, adultery, or cruelty, which may include violence, verbal abuse, drunkenness, or drug use.
If you meet these grounds, then you can begin the divorce process.
Step 1: File a Statement of Claim for Divorce
This document must be signed and taken to the courthouse for filing. If you are the person asking for a divorce, you are the plaintiff and your spouse is the defendant.
Step 2: Your Spouse is Served
Once you file the Statement of Claim for Divorce, your spouse must be served with the document. This means that it is delivered to the defendant (your spouse) by someone other than you. You can hire a professional process server to do this or have a friend or family member deliver it to them.
Step 3: Defendant Can Dispute
Once the defendant receives the Statement of Claim, they have a certain amount of time to dispute it. If they do not dispute it, then the divorce proceedings can proceed by way of a desk divorce.
Step 4: A Justice Reviews the Divorce File
The next step in the process is for a Justice to review the entire divorce file. They will review the evidence presented (including the actual marriage certificate) and if they are satisfied, will sign a Divorce Judgment. This is then mailed to the plaintiff and defendant.
Step 5: Divorce is Final
After the judgment is mailed to the plaintiff and defendant, the divorce becomes final and they can request a Certificate of Divorce from the Court after 31 days. This document is important because it proves that you are no longer married. You will also need it if you ever want to get remarried.
Once you meet the grounds for divorce, you can start the process with the Statement of Claim for Divorce. Once that is served to the defendant, they have 20 days to dispute it.
Once those 20 days are up, if they don't dispute the divorce, then the file will go to a Justice. It usually takes the Justice about 8-12 weeks to review the file and sign a Divorce Judgment.
Once the Divorce Judgment is signed, the divorce becomes final after 31 days. If everything moves along as scheduled, you can expect the entire process to take about 8 to 10 weeks from filing to the final judgment.
If you have a wedding planned, it is possible to expedite the divorce process but often the court wants to ensure your previous spouse and/or children have been financially looked after prior to granting the divorce.
Contact an Alberta Divorce Lawyer Today
The legalities of filing for divorce can be complicated. Don't try to do it alone.
Let an Alberta family lawyer handle the filing for you. They can ensure that all requirements are met and that everything is done in a timely fashion.
Contact the lawyers at First West Law LLP today to request a consultation. Our lawyers specializing in family law can handle every aspect of your divorce, from child support to alimony.