Many people wonder how to prepare for divorce in Alberta with as few obstacles as possible.

The court clerk’s main role is to look over the documents and ensure that the content meets the criteria, so one way to help your file go smoothly is to make sure they don’t find any errors.

If you’re filing for divorce on your own, here’s what you need to know.

Be Consistent

It may seem like a no-brainer, but when drafting divorce files one of the initial things you need to make sure you get right is the name of the parties. Okay, that sounds obvious. But if your spouse writes your middle name as “Shiela” instead of “Sheila,” that’s an automatic rejection by the clerk.

Another common mistakes in submitted divorce documents is a wrong place or wrong date of marriage. The clerk always cross-references that information as stated in the documents to the actual Marriage Certificate. Before submitting your documents, go over all your specific pieces of information, and also compare it to the other places it’s referred to in other documents.

Take the Parenting After Separation Course

…and submit your proof of income for calculating child support. Those two items are requirements and mandatory components to filing for divorce in Alberta if you have children under 18. They are put in place to give the parties the best chances at effective co-parenting, as well as the correct amount for child support that is specific to their incomes and parenting arrangement.

Notify the Other Party Correctly

In a divorce proceeding, the spouse who has received the notification of a divorce proceeding is referred to as the “Defendant” or “Respondent” or “opposing party”. If the Defendant lives in Alberta, they have 20 days to respond or file a defence. One of the clerk’s jobs is to make sure that the Defendant was given that time frame to do so, and that the Plaintiff did not file any documents to stop them from doing so.
The divorce clerk’s review process includes many elements and is designed to catch the smallest discrepancies.

Here are 10 things that clerks look for in your divorce file:

• The information in the file is not only accurate, but that it’s also consistent.
• The Defendant has been properly served with the divorce documents and notified of the proceedings.
• The Defendant was awarded the proper time to respond with a defence if he chooses to.
• There are no other similar divorce actions for the same parties filed anywhere else in Canada.
• The Civil and not the religious Marriage Certificate is attached to the Affidavit.
• The parties were separated for one year or more before they filed for divorce.
• Custody, access, and child support have been properly addressed.
• Financial Disclosure has taken place between the parties.
• Where appropriate, the consent or signature of the parties and their lawyer is included.
• All the required documents are submitted.

The clerk’s review procedure is detailed, but for good reason. The checks ensure both parties are adhering to applicable Alberta Rules of Court and Divorce Act mandates. It is also put in place to ensure that the parties’ respective rights as litigants in a divorce proceeding have not been violated.

The best way to avoid a “rejection” by the clerk is to make sure that the information you include is correct, you abide by the requirements related to minor children, and you complete all the information requested on the forms.