The breakdown of a marriage is often overwhelming and emotionally draining for those involved. The divorce process itself is different for all parties. Depending on the situation, some couples work together to settle the outstanding matters, through alternative dispute resolution such as a settlement meeting, mediation or negotiation, while other parties resolve matters through the Court process. The length of time and methods used to each resolution and ultimately finalize a divorce vary based upon the different issues and choices the parties make. If you have questions about your particular situation, please contact us.
Regardless of how your divorce matters are resolved, only a justice at the Court of Queen’s Bench has the ability to grant a divorce. As such, a Statement of Claim must be filed to initiate an action and to seek a divorce. A Statement of Claim can be filed by one party alone or can be filed by the parties jointly. A Statement of Claim is the court pleading that is filed to initiate your action with the court. It sets forth the grounds upon which the divorce is sought and also outlines the relief sought. A Statement of Claim for divorce allows a party to seek any relief that falls under the Divorce Act, being a divorce, custody, access, child support and spousal support but can also be combined with a claim under the Matrimonial Property Act and/or a claim in equity, which is typically used to gain an interest in property during a period of time when a couple cohabited but was not married.
While the divorce process is different for all parties, most divorces start with each party retaining legal counsel or agreeing to attend mediation or arbitration without lawyers. In most cases a file begins with an exchange of basic financial information or disclosure. A large part of the divorce process is gathering financial information about each party, to ensure that the divorce process is fair. The disclosure process is to meant to provide an overall picture of the income, real and personal property of the parties so that issues regarding support and division of assets and liabilities can be resolved.
In order to be legally divorced in Alberta, you need to meet certain requirements. First, you or your spouse must have been an ordinary resident in Alberta for at least one year. Second, in order to obtain a divorce, you must meet one of the following grounds: 1) be separated for one year; 2) either partner committed adultery; and 3) either partner performed some sort of mental or physical cruelty on the other partner. The most common ground for divorce is a one-year separation, since any ground must be proven. Thus, in order to seek a divorce on the basis of adultery or mental or physical cruelty, the party must prove that it actually happened. This usually occurs when the partner who committed the adultery or physical cruelty admits to doing so in an affidavit.
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