The Stages of Legal Separation in Alberta

Navigating a separation, especially when it leads to divorce, can be a complex and emotionally taxing process. If you’re an Albertan who has recently separated from your spouse, understanding the next steps can help in moving forward.

Read on for a guide to the stages in the separation process in Alberta.

1. Make the Decision to Separate

There is no formal process required in Alberta to become “legally separated” from one’s spouse. Being separated simply means that spouses have actively decided to live separate and apart. Being separated for one year is one of the grounds for divorce in Alberta. 

For most spouses, being “separated” means that the parties live in separate physical residences. However, separation can also occur while the parties are living under the same roof, as long as they clearly intend to end their married relationship and live separate lives.

2. Obtain Legal Advice

Seek legal counsel early on in the separation process to understand your rights and responsibilities. A family law lawyer can provide guidance on relevant laws, procedures, and potential outcomes. Obtaining legal advice in the early stages of your separation is critical, because once an agreement is entered into, it can be difficult or impossible to change.

3. Division of Assets and Debts

Alberta follows the principle of equitable distribution, where marital assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily 50/50. This involves evaluating and dividing property, finances, pensions, and debts acquired during the marriage. Your lawyer can help you understand if you are entitled to any exemptions when it comes the division of your martial property. 

4. Take the Parenting After Separation (PAS) Course

The Parenting After Separation (PAS) Course is mandatory if you are filing for divorce and have dependent children. Topics in this three-hour online course include how to help children cope with divorce, dispute resolution strategies, and parenting plans.

You must provide a certificate of completion for the PAS course as part of your divorce paperwork if you have dependent children.

5. Make Parenting Arrangements

If you have children, making a parenting plan is a mandatory step that must occur prior to the divorce being finalized. Focus on the best interests of the child, aiming for a parenting plan that accommodates both parents’ involvement. 

6. Determine Child and Spousal Support

In most cases, the amount of child support payable from one party to the other is calculated based on the federal Child Support Guidelines. Your lawyer can help you understand if it may be appropriate to deviate from the Guidelines.

Spousal support may also be considered based on various factors, including duration of marriage, financial disparities, and individual needs.

7. File for Divorce

In Alberta, you can make your separation agreement and start your divorce action at any time, even if you have not yet been separated for a year.

The divorce process involves filling out and filing the necessary court forms. If both parties agree on the terms of the divorce or have a signed separation agreement, an uncontested desk divorce may be pursued, which is typically less time-consuming and costly.

Separating? We can help.

The purpose of this overview is to provide a general understanding of the steps in a separation and divorce in Alberta. Every case is unique, and seeking legal advice tailored to your situation is crucial.

A professional and experienced family lawyer can guide you through these steps, ensuring a smoother transition during this challenging time.

Share This Post