What are the grounds for divorce in Alberta?
While the grounds for divorce in Alberta are stipulated by the Divorce Act – there are other statutes that also oversee divorce proceedings procedurally and give guidance on things such as child custody, child support, division of assets, spousal support and more. Every separation or divorce situation is very different from one another and if you are considering filing for divorce – we recommend you speak with an Edmonton divorce lawyer who can help you navigate the legal complexities surrounding divorces in Alberta and ensure that your rights are protected. Hiring a divorce lawyer to oversee your divorce not only protects your interests and legal rights – it can also help expedite the resolution of differences and contested issues surrounding your divorce. It is usually in the best interest of all parties to ensure a quick resolve to your divorce instead of letting it drag out unnecessarily – especially if there are children involved.
Currently there are 3 statues that govern divorces in Alberta. These include:
- Federal Divorce Act: Covers divorce proceedings, spousal support, child custody and child support. The Federal Divorce Act ensures divorce proceedings are administered equally across provinces and that the jurisdiction to deal with a petition for divorce is done at the provincial level.
- Alberta Family Law Act: Contains core principles of provincial family law. This statute applies to non-divorce situations such as child custody or determining who are the guardians of the child.
- Matrimonial Property Act: Oversees the division of assets when couples are divorcing or terminating their relationship.
According to the Divorce Act here are the 3 legally accepted grounds for divorce.
- Separation: If you and your spouse have been separated for more than one year (uninterrupted) you can file for divorce. In Alberta, if your marriage is broken down and you are still living under the same roof yet sleeping in separate rooms – the law will view you as separated in these circumstances. In order for the separation to be valid – there must be no sexual relations during the period of separation between the separating couple and essentially both parties must live as independently as possible if they are continuing to live under the same roof. The divorce proceedings can be triggered at anytime after separation and the judge will grant divorce after 12 months of separation has been completed. During the separation period – couples may opt to sign a separation agreement to matters related to custody of children, access or visitation rights of parents, financial support for children/dependant spouse and the division of matrimonial property.
- Adultery: If your spouse has committed adultery, you must establish a high probability that adultery has occurred. In the petition for divorce – you must swear that there is no collusion between the two spouses in order to validate that it is in fact the truth. If adultery is denied, examination for discovery and court appearances are other ways to prove adultery and this is something a divorce lawyer can help you with. Adultery cannot be used to fast-track divorces and does present some challenges when citing this as a reason for divorce. We encourage you to speak with a divorce lawyer if you can relate to this situation so you are advised of your legal rights and what to expect during the divorce proceedings.
- Cruelty: If your spouse has treated you with intolerable mental or physical cruelty, you may be eligible for divorce. In this type of situation, the courts interpret cruelty as repeated instances of unnecessary physical or emotional pain rendering in impossible continual cohabitation. For the courts to accept cruelty as a cause for divorce – the courts must be convinced that cruelty was of a grave and weighty nature and not due to temperament between the parties or trivial incompatibilities. In a situation like this we encourage you to seek legal counsel to ensure that your best interests and rights are prioritized during divorce proceedings.
Divorces are never easy on couples and can be very stressful, emotionally charged and financially taxing. The emotional and mental effects can be felt by all parties – especially if children are involved, extending stress to them as well. Hiring a divorce lawyer during your divorce proceedings come with many benefits especially if children are involved as they can help secure a child specialist to help them cope with the rigors of divorce.
At Verhaeghe Law Office – our divorce lawyers have helped clients across Alberta with their legal needs surrounding separations, divorce, division of assets, child custody and spousal support issues. We recommend you contact our office today for a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers if you are planning on separating or getting a divorce. Call us today at 587-410-2500. We are located in the Mayfield Business Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.
This blog provides only general information on divorce issues within the province of Alberta. This blog is not intended to act as legal advice. If you have a legal question or require legal assistance, please contact one of our family lawyers in Alberta to get advice on your specific circumstances.