Divorce in Alberta

Alberta Divorce Forms: Information

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Do I qualify to apply for divorce in Alberta?

To apply for divorce in Alberta you, or your spouse, need to "ordinarily reside" in Alberta. That is the legal term used in the divorce act. It is open to some degree of interpretation. For example, someone serving abroad in the armed forces who maintains a permanent home in Alberta can still say they ordinarily reside in Alberta.

Furthermore, you, or your spouse, must have maintained your ordinary residence in Alberta for at least the past 12 months. This 12 month ordinary residency requirement is a jurisdictional issue which the courts cannot waive under any circumstances. In other words, there is no way around this requirement. It does not matter where you were married, or what your citizenship status is, all that matters is where you (or your spouse) live now and whether you have lived there (or somewhere else in Alberta) for the past 12 months.

It does not matter which of you or your spouse meets the 12 month residency requirement. As long as one of you meets the requirement then either one of you can apply for divorce in Alberta.

Does it matter whether my spouse cooperates or agrees to the divorce?

Not really. There are no joint divorces in Alberta. So whichever one of you or your spouse applies for divorce, that person will be the plaintiff and the other will be the respondent. This is what is known as a sole application. The plaintiff will file all the paperwork and have the documents served on the respondent. If the respondent does absolutely nothing then the plaintiff can go ahead and get the divorce issued by the court without difficulty. If the respondent files papers of his/her home, that turns the preceding into a contested divorce and you should then higher a lawyer. About 90% of all divorces are uncontested.

Your spouse's cooperation could be an advantage when it is time to serve him or her with the court documents. If he or she will cooperate then all you have to do is send the documents to your spouse by mail and your spouse can arrange for someone he or she knows to "deliver" the documents to your spouse and sign an affidavit of service. That affidavit then is sent back to you for you to file with the court.

Do I need to know my spouse's address?

You will need to serve your spouse with a copy of the documents you filed with the court to start your divorce proceeding. In order to do this you will need to know your spouse's address. If you can prove that you have tried to locate your spouse and you have been unable to do so, you will need to hire a lawyer to obtain a court order for substituted service. That is a special court order allowing you to leave the documents with someone who has contact with your spouse, or place a notice in a newspaper, instead of having to have the documents delivered to your spouse personally. This is only permitted after you have made all reasonable attempts to locate your spouse.

If you do not know your spouse's address you will need to hire a process server to attempt to locate your spouse. If they fail to do so they will provide you with a document you can use to prove to the court that you have indeed made reasonable efforts and been unable to locate your spouse. That is usually sufficient.

To locate a process server you can do a search on the Internet using the keywords "process server" and the name of the largest community in the area you believe your spouse resides or was last known to reside. You will need to provide the process server with as much information about your spouse as possible including such things as date of birth, social insurance number, or other personal or business records. A photograph is also important.

You can go ahead and get the divorce started before hiring the process server. That way you will have the documents from the course you will need to give the process server to serve on your spouse if the process server succeeds in finding him or her.

How long should it take before my divorce is final using your service?

From the time we receive your order it will take up to two business days for us to prepare and deliver (via email) your documents to you. We encourage you to review them and make us aware of any necessary revisions. Then you can either print them yourself or ask us to send them to you via regular mail. Once you have the printed documents in hand you will need to file them at your nearest divorce court office. We suggest you allow 3-4 months from the date you file them to the date your divorce will become final. This allows time for the court office to obtain a divorce clearance certificate from Ottawa, time for certain mandatory waiting periods to expire, and time for the court office to actually process your paper work.

Throughout the process, if you have any questions about procedure or need any revisions made, we will respond promptly to your emails so that we can help keep the time required to finalize your divorce to a minimum.

Are there any documents I need before I can fill out your order form?

No, but you will need the original or a certified copy of your marriage certificate at some point to file with the court. If you cannot locate your marriage certificate you will need to obtain a certified copy from the jurisdiction in which you were married. If you were married in Alberta you can find information about obtaining a certified copy at this website: http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/vs/marriage/certificate.cfm. (You should order the large size certificate.) If you were married in some other jurisdiction you can contact us and we will provide you with information about how to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate.

Do you charge any additional fees beyond the $249 and are there any other costs of any kind I should be aware of?

We do not charge anything other than our initial fee of $249. For this fee we provide your uncontested divorce documents and instructions and we also answer all your questions. We also will make whatever revisions you or the courts require at any time and for whatever reason. So the answer to the first part of your question is "absolutely not", "no", and "never!" You can print that out, circle it in red, tape it to your wall, and be prepared to hold it against us if we ever break our promise - but we won't - we never charge our customers any more than our initial fee.

However, there are some additional expenses you should be aware of. The core office will charge you a filing fees when you file your documents. This fee varies from province to province. In Alberta the filing fees come to $210. That is fairly reasonable compared to the other provinces. For example, in Ontario the filing fees are well over $400. Keep in mind that the filing fee has to be paid no matter who prepares your divorce documents and regardless of whether you are represented by a lawyer. If you want a divorce, these fees have to be paid.

There will be two documents called "affidavits" included among your documents. These will need to be witnessed by someone authorized to accept oaths, such as a commissioner of oaths or notary public. You will find such a person at the court office, most other government buildings, or at any law office. Some will charge a small fee for this (it should be less than $50). Your best bet would be to look for a commissioner of posts in a law office who might do it for free as a public service.

When it comes time to serve your spouse with some of the documents you file there may be another expense. You, yourself, are never allowed to be the person who officially delivers a copy of the court documents to your spouse. However, if you are on good terms with your spouse, you may be able to arrange for a mutual friend, family member, or other acquaintance to serve him or her with the documents. Otherwise, you will need to hire a process server who will charge you a fee of up to approximately $100 for delivering the documents to your spouse. Whoever it is that serves your spouse with the documents will need to complete & the affidavit of service before a commissioner of oaths or notary public and return it to you so you can file it with the court.

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