Divorce in Canada is governed by the federal Divorce Act. However, the procedures and documents used to obtain a divorce vary by province.
These steps outline the general desk divorce process in Alberta.
Step 1 - Prepare the Statement of Claim for Divorce
If you wish to apply for a divorce, a Statement of Claim for Divorce must be completed and filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
You or your spouse must have lived in Alberta for at least one year before filing for divorce in Alberta.
You also must also have one of the three legally accepted “grounds for divorce” in order to get divorced. The grounds for divorce in Canada are:
- mental or physical cruelty, or
- separation for at least one year.
The Statement of Claim must provide details about your marriage and why you are divorcing.
The Statement of Claim can be filed at the courthouse for a fee of $260.
Step 2 - Serve the Statement of Claim for Divorce
Once filed, the Statement of Claim must be served on your spouse. This means that the Statement of Claim document must be delivered to your spouse in person.
You cannot be the person to serve your spouse. It must be served by a third party, such as a process server.
The person who served the Statement of Claim will need to swear and file a document called an Affidavit of Service. This proves your spouse received the Statement of Claim.
Step 3 - Await response to the Statement of Claim for Divorce
Once the Statement of Claim is served on your spouse, they have 20 days to respond to the claim.
If your spouse lives outside of Alberta but within Canada, they have one month to respond. If your spouse lives outside of Canada, they have two months to respond.
If your spouse disagrees with the claims in your Statement of Claim, they may file their own documents. A Statement of Defence will contain objections to the claims in your Statement of Claim. A Counterclaim will contain claims against you.
If your spouse does not have any objections to your Statement of Claim, they may not respond at all. The divorce action can then continue without a hearing by what is known as a “desk divorce”.
Step 4 - File additional documents
If your spouse does not respond within the time period, you may file a Noting in Default, Request for Divorce, Affidavit of Applicant, and a proposed Divorce Judgment.
Your affidavit should include your original Marriage Certificate and a copy of any agreements related to your divorce (such as a separation agreement or a prenuptial agreement).
Step 5 - Court review of Divorce Claim
The documents are reviewed by a judge who will determine if you met all the requirements for a divorce.
If the Judge is satisfied that the requirements have been met, they will grant a Divorce Judgment. The court will mail copies of the Divorce Judgment to you and your spouse.
Step 6 - Obtain Certificate of Divorce
Your divorce is final 31 days after the Judge grants the divorce judgment. After the 31 days, you may request a Certificate of Divorce to prove that you are no longer legally married in Alberta.
A Certificate of Divorce can be requested online.
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS?
Keep in mind that every divorce is unique and may have additional steps or timelines. This article is intended to serve as a general overview of the typical divorce process in Alberta.
If you have further questions about divorce in Alberta, click here to schedule a free call with a lawyer.