How to File for Divorce in Alberta: 3 Methods

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You’ve separated from your spouse, moved out of the house, and are finally to sit down alone and think of your options in the future. To give you more clarity, here are three ways to file for divorce in Alberta:   

Joint Divorce: The Ideal Solution 

I’ve written before about how one party usually decides they want a divorce before the other; in most cases, the other spouse eventually catches up and agrees to the divorce as well. People in these cases still go through all the emotions and ups and downs of divorce. The difference is, they can put their feelings aside and see things from a practical perspective.  

What helps couples be able to do this is perspective. Neither of them is out to get the other; they just don’t want to be married anymore. There is still some trust left, and they both continue to want what’s best for each other. There is no animosity, neither is there a substantial power imbalance. Often they have gone to therapy to work those things out. While they weren’t able to salvage their marriage, they were able to preserve a working relationship as it pertains to shared property and responsibilities.  

If they have kids, they often decide together what they’ll do about custody, access and child support. They’re able to do this based on what’s best for the children, not what works best for them or what will most annoy their ex.    

Filing a divorce application for a joint divorce in Alberta is relatively quick, with fewer steps. Both parties feel equally involved and empowered to make decisions that are best for them and their children.    

If you can, this is the kind of divorce you should aim to secure. 

Uncontested Divorce: A Straightforward Solution 

In an uncontested divorce application, the parties typically separate for at least a few months, and then one of them decides to make the separation official by filing for divorce. The court refers to this party as the plaintiff.   

The other party is referred to as the defendant in court terms. They’re usually aware that their spouse has initiated a divorce and expect them to serve the Divorce Statement of Claim.    

If the defendant accepts the terms in the Statement of Claim, they don’t have to file any additional documents in court. The divorce is therefore uncontested, and the plaintiff carries on with the filing without the defendant’s involvement.    

Filing for an uncontested divorce in Alberta can take one or two months longer than a joint divorce does. This is because it includes the time allowed for the defendant to be notified and respond.  

Contested Divorce: An Unfortunate Situation 

A contested divorce is when parties don’t agree about one or more of the elements of their divorce. This can include division of assets, child custody, parenting guidelines or child support. Generally, people in this situation hire lawyers because they need someone to represent them in court. Each spouse needs their own lawyer. 

This type of divorce, and the involvement of lawyers each wanting to make sure their client gets the best deal, often inflames emotions. Parties tend to drift even farther from one another, which makes productive communication even harder. When communication becomes toxic or absent, the two parties can lose any amount of trust they had left in each other.   

Delays are common if the exes go into defensive mode, worried about their own outcomes to the exclusion of all others. In that case, a contested divorce can quickly escalate into a long, painful and expensive court battle. It isn’t unusual for legal costs to reach the high five figures and for the divorce to take years to finalize.   

Hiring a Divorce Pro   

For joint and uncontested divorces, parties can prepare the documents themselves and then file them with the assistance of court clerks.    

Another option is to hire a lawyer to prepare the documents for you. Each party needs their own lawyer, so this can be an expensive proposition, even if the divorce is uncontested.  

There is a third option. A divorce paralegal can offer the right kind of support and guidance to help you get through the divorce process for far less money. As we like to say at Trusted Divorce Services, it’s half the time and a third of the cost of hiring a lawyer.   

If all this is new to you, sign up to attend our free Alberta divorce webinar, here.

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