How do I get divorced?
When going through a divorce or separation, there are a number of paths you can take. The most important thing at the end of the day is to get legal advice from a lawyer, so you understand your rights and obligations under the law.
The divorce or separation process generally proceeds as follows:
- information gathering
- exchange of financial documents
- problem solving and legal advice
- proposing solutions
- resolving the terms of the separation
- drafting final documentation
- signing an agreement or filing the final court judgment with legal advice
- wrapping tasks to complete all terms of agreement or judgment
- closing of lawyer file and receipt of certificate of divorce
The phases are the same, but there are very different approaches to getting from beginning to end. You can file for divorce before or after negotiations start, but the formal divorce is usually the last step once all matters under the divorce have been resolved, either by settlement or the court. The general rule is that you must be living separate and apart from your spouse for one year before you can get a divorce.
The Divorce Act covers a number of important issues to be determined in a divorce, including custody, access, child support and spousal support. Property division is governed by the Family Property Act. Naturally, only married people need a divorce. A divorce ends a formal marriage, the main result being that you can remarry again in the future. Couples who were not married likely still have important legal issues to be dealt with. For more information on these individual issues that can arise in a divorce or separation, visit our Family Law page.
Divorce sometimes involves both a settlement contract and the divorce judgment. A contract provides a more detailed record of the settlement and provides comprehensive protections. The contract usually includes a promise to complete the divorce documents, but does not actually get you divorced.
You must submit the proper paperwork to the Court of Queen's Bench and receive a judge's permission to be granted a formal divorce. A judge will review your documents, make sure that you qualify for a divorce and confirm that all issues under the divorce have been addressed.
If you and your spouse agree to the matters under the divorce, or if your spouse does not respond, you can submit your paperwork to the court in a package without having to appear in person ( a "desk divorce"). If you and your spouse are not able to agree on the matters under your divorce, you will have to go to trial to have a judge make a decision and grant the divorce in person.
The steps to get the formal divorce from the Court are created by the laws under the Divorce Act and the Alberta Rules of Court. The Court has designated forms and procedures that must be followed. Whether you have a lawyer or are representing yourself, everyone must follow the Rules of Court. The Rules cover over 700 pages, coinciding and cross-referencing one another. Because of the complexity involved, we highly recommend you have a lawyer review your consent documents, or hire a lawyer for your entire litigation.
There are a number of different routes that will take you from separation to that final, formal divorce. Below is information on all those routes: Mediation, Collaborative, Traditional Negotiation, Litigation, Arbitration and Experts. Our lawyers at Kinetic Law can help you with any one of these options.
Alternative Dispute Resolution is just what it sounds like, an alternative to resolving traditional legal disputes in a way that supports financial and emotional health. There are different options to try, but all have the same mission: to create a safe environment to explore interests and options, allowing you to decide your own solutions. Therefore, the people actually involved in the divorce decide on how to move forward in a way that works for both sides. Alternative Dispute Resolution could include Mediation, Collaborative Family Law, Parenting Coordination or more. For more information on these different options, see our Alternative Dispute Resolution page.
Litigation & Court Process
The process of seeking relief from the Court when parties can't agree is called “litigation”.
There is a strong consensus among psychologists, lawyers and judges that fighting in court on family matters does far more damage than good. Litigation is extremely stressful for those in it and is highly toxic for children. The court process is slow, expensive and public. You can expect a litigation to take a number of years and to be a significant burden in legal fees. At the end of the day, you do not get to make decisions. Steps are decided by the court rules and the final decision is made by a judge, who does not know you or your life.
You could try to take on the court process yourself, but without a lawyer, knowing how to navigate the process and what makes a fair result can be overwhelming and confusing.
Some matters simply can't be resolved outside of court and litigation is necessary. At our office, we have highly experienced and skilled litigators invested in presenting the best possible case before the court. We can represent you and will advocate for you.
Knowing the risk and cost of court for our clients, we look for efficient solutions whenever possible. We believe court should be a last resort only when other options have proven unsuccessful.
For more information on court services and to get help with court forms you can visit Resolution Services online or on the 8th floor of the Brownlee building at 10365 - 97 Street Edmonton. You can also find divorce forms on the Alberta Courts website. It is important to remember that these services and online resources do not give any legal advice. The same goes for our website: while we wish to provide you with general information, you should always meet with a lawyer to receive comprehensive legal advice on your divorce matter.
If you can't afford full-time representation but need help with forms, we can assist in drafting your forms, explaining procedure and provide advice on a limited scope basis.
Contact us to book an appointment to get advice on your divorce and help with the process.
Like litigation, arbitration is a way to have someone else decide when you can't reach an agreement. If you cannot come to an agreement, you go to a neutral third party to make a binding decision for you, like a judge. Unlike court, the process is private, controlled, and can be less formal and much faster, as you are not stuck with the scheduling constraints and lack of resources at the court house. Unlike mediation or collaborative, arbitration is an adversarial process and the final decision remains out of your control.
At Kinetic Law we can represent you in an arbitration.
DISCLAIMER: This web site is for convenience and informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a comprehensive or detailed statement concerning the matters addressed, legal or otherwise. The information provided is not legal advice or any other kind of advice. You should seek appropriate, qualified professional advice before acting or omitting to act in your personal or legal matter. To get legal advice, you can contact us directly and make an appointment to meet with a lawyer in person. We cannot and do not provide advice on our website or otherwise online.