The Impact of Alberta’s Family Law Act on Separating Couples in Alberta

The Impact of Alberta’s Family Law Act on Separating Couples in Alberta

The termination of a relationship can be an emotional and complex situation. When two people separate in Alberta, several key laws that govern family matters come into play. The most significant one is the Family Law Act, which helps couples navigate disputes over support issues, guardianship decisions, and more.

At Verhaeghe Law, our Alberta family lawyers have decades of experience in all areas pertaining to family law. From the division of assets to child custody, we offer tailored legal solutions, in-depth case consultations, and a team that is committed to serving your best interests.

Defining Separation and Separation Agreements

In Alberta, a married couple may have decided to separate, which is often considered the step preceding a divorce. When not married, a couple is considered to be in an adult interdependent partnership (AIP). Often referred to as "common law", an AIP is established if they have lived together for at least three years, have a child together, or have entered into an adult interdependent partner agreement. AIPs may terminate the relationship by written agreement or by living apart for one year.

For both AIPs and married couples, when the two parties start living apart from one another, they are considered separated. There are also instances where couples are considered separated even if they live under the same roof. When couples temporarily reconcile their relationship or are separated but still live together, defining an ongoing separation may become complicated. In these particular situations, it may be useful to file a separation agreement.

A legally-binding document, separation agreements may provide a clear outline of how the two parties intend to divide property, debts, and assets. It may also lay out plans for child and spousal support, and other child-related decisions and responsibilities.

Contactl our offices to have a Verhaeghe Law family lawyer review your separation options and help you make the next step.

Child Support after Separation

Under the Family Law Act, regulations surrounding child support during a separation include the guardianship of children and establishing parentage. It also addresses a child's contact with a non-parent or non-guardian, and spousal/partner and child support obligations for previous spouses/partners who are not seeking a divorce or were never married. The Alberta Child Support Guidelines provides specific details about child support obligations of non-married parents.

You may qualify for child support if you have care and control over a child, even if you are not the parent. Child support amounts are decided based on the income levels of both parents and the child's needs. Parenting agreements may also be taken into account, as well as additional expenses such as a child's extracurricular activities or health care requirements.

Both parents are expected to financially contribute to the best of their ability. If you are experiencing an ongoing separation and have inquiries about child support in Alberta, it is recommended to consult with a family lawyer.

Spousal Support after Separation

Unlike the mandatory nature of child support, spousal support guidelines during a separation are advisory, meaning there is flexibility in how support is calculated and determined. Some factors include:

  1. Length of the marriage or relationship: The marital/relationship duration may increase the probability of spousal support being granted, especially if one partner has been financially reliant on the other.
  2. Financial need: Both spouses' financial circumstances will be examined, encompassing their income, assets, and capacity for earning. If one spouse requires financial assistance and the other has the means to provide, spousal support might be allotted.
  3. Standard of living during the marriage/AIP: Maintaining a lifestyle similar to what it was during the marriage might be considered, particularly if one spouse significantly contributed to the household but may suffer financially post-separation.
  4. Childcare responsibilities: If one spouse serves as the primary caregiver and cannot work full-time due to childcare duties, this could impact the decision regarding spousal support.
  5. Age and health of the spouses: The age and health of both partners may be considered if it affects their capability to work and support themselves financially.
  6. Agreements between spouses: Couples can also come to spousal support agreements through direct negotiation or mediated settlements, subject to court approval.

It is important to note that spousal support may be temporary or long-term, based on the specifics of each case and the needs of the separating couple. Spousal support is determined under the Family Law Act if the parties are applying after living in an adult interdependent relationship, or if the parties were married and are now undergoing separation, but have not yet commenced divorce proceedings.

Parenting and Custody

Under the Family Law Act, the term "parenting" is used instead of "custody" to describe the plan created by separated parents that will outline how decisions will be made for shared children. It also outlines how the parents' time with the child will be split.

Similar to custody options under the federal Divorce Act, parenting arrangements may take many different forms. Children may see an equal 50-50 split of their time between parents. In these shared situations, major decisions tend to be made together by both parents and responsibilities tend to be split evenly.

In the case of two or more children, one child may live mostly with one parent while the other child lives mainly with the other. In these situations, parents may still have split responsibilities.

Sometimes, the agreed parenting arrangement may dictate that the child live with one parent only, meaning that parent has the right to make all major decisions. The other parent may still have access to the child on a less frequent basis.

These plans may alter as children grow and their needs change. Alberta's Family Law Act addresses all areas of parenting agreements between couples who were never married or are married and not yet seeking a divorce. Contact our legal team to learn more about your parenting rights.

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Other Areas

Another noteworthy section of the Family Law Act as it pertains to separation is its emphasis on alternative dispute resolution. The act advocates for mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods to facilitate separating couples in reaching agreements concerning their separation, particularly surrounding support and parenting arrangements. These processes are in place so that court can be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

The act also addresses protection orders in instances of family violence. These may involve restraining orders aimed at keeping an abusive partner away from the threatened partners and any children.

Plus, Family Court Assistance provides many educational seminars regarding family law matters, including:

Contact Our Legal Team For a Consultation

The end of a relationship can take an emotional toll on all parties involved. If you are undergoing a separation and are uncertain about spousal or child support obligations in Alberta, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from a family lawyer who can offer expert guidance. We aim to work with clients to reach a satisfactory resolution in a timely manner. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about separation and other family law matters.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

Considerations for an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement in Edmonton

Considerations for an Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement in Edmonton

In Alberta, many people are in committed partnerships and relationships outside of marriage. Adult interdependent relationships may occur when two people live together in a relationship of interdependence. In the past few years, the Alberta government has made amendments to their adult interdependent relationships section, specifically pertaining to partnership agreements.

To navigate these changes, it may be useful to seek legal counsel. Lawyers at Verhaeghe Law provide residents of Edmonton, Athabasca, and Whitecourt with legal assistance in many areas including family law. They approach each client with detail-oriented care, adhere to your particular needs, and work to ensure you have the required support to make informed decisions.

To schedule a first consultation, contact us today to learn how our Edmonton family lawyers might be able to help you understand your adult interdependent partnership.

Defining Adult Interdependent Partnerships

As defined under the province's Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, adult interdependent partnerships (AIPs) are made up of two people who are living together in a state of interdependence:

  • For at least three continuous years
  • In some permanence (for at least three years) if they share a child, or
  • Those who have entered an adult interdependent partner agreement

A relationship of interdependence is between two people who are unmarried that still share a life together, are emotionally committed to each other, and operate as a domestic and economic unit.

The Adult Interdependent Relationships Act sets out factors to consider when analyzing the economic and domestic function of two people. These include the exclusivity of their relationship, support and care of children, property ownership, the degree of financial dependence between them, and more.

Types of Adult Interdependent Relationships

Having replaced the term "common-law partnerships" in Alberta legislation, there are now a wide range of committed partnership types that fall under the interdependent relationship umbrella. They may include:

  • Two people in a romantic, marriage-like relationship
  • Two people in a non-romantic partnership
  • Two family members

In 2020, the Alberta government amended the Matrimonial Property Act to include adult interdependent relationships as well as married spouses, renaming it the Family Property Act.

To be considered adult interdependent partners, two people who are related to one another (by blood or adoption) must sign an adult interdependent partner agreement (AIPA).

Entering an AIPA

An adult interdependent partner agreement may be used by two people who are living together or plan to live together in an interdependent relationship. A document that legally recognizes the status of their partnership, the form is provided by the Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation.

The agreement may entitle parties to benefits and protections, including health insurance coverage and pension benefits. It may also make them eligible for spousal support and/or division of property and assets should the relationship end.

The agreement calls for a specific format that must include certain information, and may need to meet circumstantial requirements at the time of signing in order to be valid. Plus, entering an agreement may affect both parties' obligations and rights.

When considering the specificity of drafting, signing, and adhering to an AIPA, it may be beneficial to get legal assistance. Lawyers may also be able to answer any questions about entering an agreement or review an existing one.

Our family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law may be able to include all necessary provisions so that both parties feel represented and heard. This may include outlining financial arrangements, property rights, and other responsibilities. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the next steps.

Knowing Your Rights as an AIP

Adult interdependent partners are entitled to similar rights and responsibilities as married couples, irrespective of whether they have a formal adult interdependent partnership agreement or whether their relationship is romantic or platonic.

AIPs can expect:

  • Eligibility for partner support or an obligation to provide it under Alberta's Family Law Act if the relationship ends.
  • The ability to seek support and maintenance from a partner's estate under the Wills and Successions Act, especially if the partner dies without a will or inadequately provides for the other partner in their will.
  • Property division as per the guidelines established in the Family Property Act, (if the relationship concludes after January 1, 2020).
  • Entitlement to partner benefits under various legislations such as the Workers Compensation Act, the Victims of Crime Act, and the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act.
  • The option to insure an AIP's life and receive insurance benefits.

Similar to married couples, AIPs can also choose to customize or opt out of the regulations concerning property division or partner support outlined in the Family Property Act and the Family Law Act by creating a cohabitation agreement or separation agreement.

To safeguard property and assets effectively, AIPs may want to consider establishing a cohabitation agreement. A document that gives both parties the chance to outline their responsibilities and roles in the relationship, the agreement may also specify how property will be divided and whether support should be provided if separation occurs.

Terminating an AIPA

Similar to the divorce process for married couples, ending an AIPA may require certain legal procedures, particularly if both partners cannot reach an agreement to the terms. This process might encompass the division of property and assets accrued throughout the partnership.

Every situation is different - some AIPs may have to sign a written agreement stating they plan to live separately without the possibility of reconciliation, while others may have to obtain a declaration of irreconcilability under the Family Law Act. It all depends on the terms of their agreement.

Under an AIPA and in accordance with the Family Property Act, partners must make a claim for property division within two years from the date the applicant knew the relationship had ended. Should conflicts arise concerning the distribution of property, financial assistance, or any other aspects outlined in the AIPA, a lawyer can advocate for a partner's concerns during legal proceedings and assist in managing the process.

Schedule a Consultation with Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today

Adult interdependent partnerships are increasingly common amongst Canadians. In Alberta, the government has amended their legislation to ensure all family structures have similar rights and responsibilities.

Our family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law may be able to assist you with aspects of adult interdependent partnerships and agreements. Samongeeking legal counsel may be useful for not only drafting and terminating AIPAs, but also for amending existing agreements as your personal situation shifts, or for mediating term negotiations and disputes as they arise.

Contact our office to book a first consultation and discuss how we may be able to assist you through the AIPA process.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

Property Division in Edmonton: The Basics of Matrimonial Property

Property Division in Edmonton: The Basics of Matrimonial Property

For many people, the end of a marriage or adult interdependent relationship involves a disentanglement of property the spouses have shared over the course of their partnership. This may be a very emotional process. While the ideal situation may be for both parties to collaborate in good faith on their property division, this may not always be the reality as a relationship ends.

Our Edmonton family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law approach each client with individual care, understanding that no two cases are the same. When you book your initial consultation with our team, we will listen to your story and work hard to address your questions and concerns. Contact us today to learn how we might be able to help.

What Is Matrimonial Property?

Matrimonial property refers to assets and liabilities you may have shared with your spouse over the course of your marriage or adult interdependent relationship. In the case of the matrimonial home, there may be special provisions. The house in which the parties lived together may be subject to property division even if only one of the parties was on title.

Generally, matrimonial property subject to division may include real estate properties, bank accounts, investments, businesses and business assets, cars, household goods, and more. If you would like to discuss a particular item of property and whether it may be subject to division in a separation or divorce, speak with our Edmonton family lawyers today.

What Is Not Subject to Division?

If the two separating parties agree on how they will divide their property, they may do so according to their wishes. However, if the parties cannot agree, there are provisions to guide the process under Alberta's Family Property Act.

With some exceptions, assets that a spouse had before entering into the marriage or adult interdependent relationship may not be subject to division. However, the amount of value an asset has accrued over the course of the marriage may be considered matrimonial property, and therefore subject to division.

Assets that may not be considered matrimonial property can include an inheritance directed to only one of the spouses, individual gifts, and tort settlements from personal injury or other civil claims.

If you have a prenuptial agreement or other kind of formal agreement that provides for particular protections regarding your assets, this may dictate how you and your former spouse divide your property. Likewise, drafting a separation agreement might help clarify each partner's priorities regarding property, should their relationship end.

Our team of Edmonton family lawyers understands the highly personal and individual nature of each relationship. We strive to approach each client with tailored dedication, listening to your unique needs and offering insights aimed at helping you navigate your separation with as much ease as possible. Contact us today to learn more.

Considerations During a Dispute Regarding Property Division in Edmonton

While most property division disputes are settled out of court, the intervention of a judge may be available should the separating parties be unable to come to an agreement. The parties may go through an equalization process, aimed at recognizing the financial losses one party may have incurred to benefit the other while they were together. The party with a higher net family property value at the end of the relationship may be required to remit equalization payments to the party with a lower net family property value.

When assessing a matter of property division, a judge may consider the following factors:

  • The net family property value of each spouse
  • How long the parties were married or an in an adult interdependent relationship
  • Whether there are children involved
  • Who owns what property
  • When any relevant property was acquired
  • Whether one spouse engaged in conduct that dissipated assets, causing disadvantage to the other spouse (e.g. gambling)
  • The value that each spouse brought into the relationship, in terms of contributions
  • Whether there are business interests involved
  • Whether there are existing agreements between the spouses, such as a prenuptial agreement, an adult interdependent relationship agreement, a separation agreement, or more
  • Whether either spouse has debt and/or tax liabilities
  • Whether there are Court orders against either of the spouses
  • And more

Many factors go into the decision-making at the root of property division in Edmonton. As with any dispute, the best way to resolve an issue may be to collaborate and come to an amicable agreement. However, because of the emotional, vulnerable nature of an intimate partner relationship, navigating property division during a separation may not always be graceful.

Our team at Verhaeghe Law recognizes that each relationship is different. From mediation and collaborative divorce to preparation for court, our Edmonton family lawyers are here to discuss the options that may be available in your unique case.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today For a Consultation

Disentangling property can be a stressful process in the aftermath of a separation or divorce. Under ideal circumstances, the separating couple comes to an agreement about how their matrimonial property should be divided. Unfortunately, the reality is often more complicated, and contentions may arise.

At Verhaeghe Law, our Edmonton family lawyers understand the emotional nature of property division. We strive to approach each case with compassion and diligence, working together with our clients to clarify your particular needs. Contact us today to book your initial consultation and learn what a difference we might be able to make for you.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer

Spousal Support Guidelines in Edmonton: How Are Payments Determined?

Spousal Support Guidelines in Edmonton: How Are Payments Determined?

The end of a marriage may leave the separating spouses in different financial situations. Over the course of the marriage, the distribution of household labour may have placed one partner in a financially advantageous position, for example, while the other partner may have put their career on hold in order to care for children. In some cases, one partner may have been wholly dependent on the other, and may need support to transition to independent life as the marriage dissolves.

In some cases, spousal support may be ordered to relieve the financial challenges of the partner who is left in an economically disadvantaged position as a result of the marriage and subsequent divorce. To learn more, including how our Edmonton family lawyers might be able to help you calculate and obtain support, contact us today and schedule your initial consultation.

What Is Spousal Support?

Spousal support, governed by Alberta's Family Law Act and the Divorce Act of Canada, is a payment that one former spouse pays to the other in order to provide assistance with their financial transition out of the marriage. Spousal support may be paid in a lump sum, it may be divided over a series of ongoing payments for a set period of time, or it may be indefinite.

Unlike child support, the guidelines outlining spousal support are advisory, meaning there may be leeway in decision-making associated with how spousal support is calculated and paid.

Who Is Eligible for Spousal Support?

Questions of spousal support typically arise with regards to the end of a marriage or adult interdependent relationship. In Alberta, you may be considered to have been in an adult interdependent partnership if you have been in a relationship of interdependence with another adult for:

  • three years;
  • less than three years, with a signed Adult Interdependent Partnership Agreement; or
  • less than three years, if the two of you share a child.

Sharing a child with someone does not necessarily mean you may be eligible for spousal support. Typically, there must be proof of a relationship of substance between the two separating spouses. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers to discuss your particular situation.

The purpose of spousal support is to recognize and reconcile economic disadvantages one party may have incurred as a result of the marriage. Neither party's conduct - be it deemed good or bad - is taken into consideration. Spousal support is not intended to be a reward or punishment. It is aimed to provide support towards an equitable financial transition out of the partnership.

How is Spousal Support Calculated?

In order to calculate how much spousal support may be ordered, both parties must produce a comprehensive financial disclosure. This may include:

  • Tax returns dating back to at least three years
  • Notices of Assessment from the past three years
  • Proof of income, such as pay stubs, for the past tax year
  • A list of monthly expenses
  • A list of debts and assets
  • Proof of registration in educational institutions, if relevant
  • Proof of medical issues, if relevant
  • And more

When calculating spousal support, disparities in income alone may not warrant entitlement. Two main formulations guide the calculation of spousal support:

  1. Where there are no children, or the children are adults, the range may be calculated thus:
    1. Low end amount: Calculate the difference between the two parties; gross incomes. Multiply this amount by 0.015, then multiply that number by the years of the parties' cohabitation.
    2. High end amount: Calculate the difference between the two parties; gross incomes. Multiply this amount by 0.2, then multiply that number by the years of the parties' cohabitation.

The maximum that may be paid in spousal support would render the parties equal in terms of income.

  1. Where there are children, the calculations are more complicated, and may be conducted in tandem with child support calculations. You may be able to estimate a general amount by adding each party's net disposable income (after childcare expenses, taxes, and deductions). In some cases, between 40-46% of the combined net disposable income may be paid to the receiver spouse. This amount may vary significantly, depending on where the children live, how parenting time and decision-making responsibility is shaped, and more.

In order to learn more about spousal support, including what may be available in your case, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our Edmonton family lawyers. We are here to discuss your particular circumstances, and provide insights on what may be possible for you.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today For a Consultation

Spousal support is intended to recognize economic disparities that may have arisen as a result of a marriage, and to provide the disadvantaged partner with support as they transition out of the partnership. Where relevant, it may be calculated in conjunction with child support.

Many different factors may influence a person's eligibility for spousal support, as well as the amount that may be ordered. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law to discuss the details of your particular case, and learn how we might be able to serve you.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

What Is the Difference Between an Adult Interdependent Relationship and a Marriage in Edmonton?

What Is the Difference Between an Adult Interdependent Relationship and a Marriage in Edmonton?

Alberta couples in long-term committed relationships may choose to get married, or may choose to continue living together in an adult interdependent relationship. Both forms of relationship are legally recognized as legitimate forms of domestic and economic interdependence. Both forms of relationship provide the parties involved with a set of similar rights and obligations.

However, there are key differences between an adult interdependent relationship and a marriage in Edmonton. For specific insights, and to discuss the particulars of your circumstances, contact our team of Edmonton family lawyers today and schedule your initial consultation.

What is an Adult Interdependent Relationship in Alberta?

An adult interdependent relationship is sometimes colloquially referred to as a common law relationship. In legal terms, two people can be in an adult interdependent relationship in Edmonton in the following three situations:

  1. If they have lived together in a relationship of interdependence for a minimum of three years.
  2. If they live together in a relationship of interdependence and have a child together, either by birth or adoption.
  3. If they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement.

Within the context of Alberta’s Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, a “relationship of interdependence” is one where two people share one another’s lives, function as an economic and domestic unit, and are emotionally committed to one another. This relationship may be conjugal (sexual) in nature, or it may be platonic (as between friends).

Many of the rights that adult interdependent partners have in Alberta are similar to, or indeed the same, as the rights of married couples. Should an adult interdependent relationship end, the parties may have the right to divide property, access spousal support, and more. 

However, there are some key differences between an adult interdependent relationship and a marriage, which you may wish to consider when deciding how to formally structure your relationship. Our team of Edmonton family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law would be happy to discuss your particular circumstances, and provide tailored insights.

Key Differences Between Adult Interdependent Relationship and Marriage

In many ways, an adult interdependent relationship is very similar to a marriage. The couple is seen as living interdependently as a domestic and financial unit. If a person dies without a will, the Wills and Succession Act provides the surviving partner access to their property, whether they were married or in an adult interdependent relationship.

However, there are key differences in the way both relationships are navigated in terms of the law.

In Alberta, you cannot be married to two people at the same time. If you wish to remarry, you have to first divorce your previous spouse. If you are separated from but still legally married to your ex, and wish to enter into an adult interdependent relationship with a new partner, you may legally do so. However, you cannot sign an adult interdependent agreement with your new partner unless you are divorced.

If one of the spouses dies, the surviving spouse has certain rights to the matrimonial home. A surviving spouse who was married to the deceased is protected by the Dower Act, which gives them the right to live in the matrimonial home, ensuring that the home is not to be mortgaged, sold, or transferred without the surviving spouse’s approval.

If a surviving spouse has been in an adult interdependent relationship with the deceased but is not on title for the matrimonial home, they may be entitled to possession of said home for 90 days.

Separation in Adult Interdependent Relationships vs Divorce

When an adult interdependent relationship ends, you do not need to file for divorce. You may wish to make a written agreement stating that the relationship is over, but this does not need to be filed anywhere. It may be useful in the future, should a legal dispute for property, spousal support, or another matter arise between you and your former partner.

Simply put, an adult interdependent relationship is over when one or both partners intend it to be over, and when you and your former partner live separate and apart for at least one year. There are particular circumstances that may hasten the end of an adult interdependent relationship. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers for insights into what may be relevant in your case.

Alberta’s Family Property Act provides for adult interdependent partners to divide property in the same way as separating married couples. You each retain the property you purchased on your own, and property you purchased together is divided. The division may not necessarily be split 50-50. 

If you and your former spouse share children, they are provided for under the Family Law Act regardless of the parents’ spousal relationship. Likewise, if you have been in an adult interdependent relationship, you may be entitled to access spousal support from your former partner. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers to discuss the possibilities in your case.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today For a Consultation

Formalizing a romantic partnership can be a beautiful rite of passage. The recognition of an adult couple as a domestic and financial unit is likewise important in broader society, offering the partners certain rights to one another’s property. Whether the relationship is formalized as in a marriage or an adult interdependent relationship is up to the couple in question, but there are differences that may be important to consider.

Each relationship is different, and the form of spousal arrangement you wish to have may reflect that. Our team at Verhaeghe Law would be happy to discuss your particular circumstances, and see how we may be of support to you. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with our Edmonton family lawyers.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

What Is Family Docket Court in Edmonton?

What Is Family Docket Court in Edmonton?

Family law is, by its nature, highly personal. When navigating matters of divorce or separation, particularly where children are involved, individuals may face some of the most emotional decision-making challenges of their lives. Court involvement may be necessary to help resolve disputes on crucial matters such as parenting time and decision-making responsibility. 

Family Docket Court in Edmonton is an important step in the process of a family law case involving the Court of King’s Bench. For more specific information, including how you might access and navigate Family Docket Court, contact our Edmonton family lawyers to schedule a dedicated consultation.

What Is Family Docket Court?

If you have a family law matter, including a divorce file, that involves the Court of King’s Bench, you must schedule a court date with Family Docket Court before proceeding to a formal hearing. Family Docket Court is intended as a place for the Court to consider your matter, and assess the specific needs of your case. They will then direct you to next steps, with a focus on making your process the most efficient it can be, and reducing the amount of conflict to which children are exposed.

Family Docket Court may direct you to an alternative dispute resolution process, such as mediation. When is family mediation a good option? In mediation, an impartial third party helps guide discussion, with the goal of arriving at a mutually agreed-upon resolution. Therefore, a willingness to collaborate is essential.

If Family Docket Court determines that alternative dispute resolution may not be appropriate for your situation, they may direct you to a more formal court process. This may apply in a case where the matter is urgent, or if you have already attempted a dispute resolution process that did not yield agreement.

What Happens In Family Docket Court?

Typically, the Family Docket Court process begins with the Court assessing the particulars of your case. They will examine the possibility of a Consent Order on the given issues. A Consent Order is a record of an agreement the relevant parties have reached, and it outlines what the parties have agreed to.

If no agreement is possible at this moment, and the parties have not yet attempted alternative dispute resolution, Family Docket Court may refer the parties to seek mediation, an Early Intervention Case Conference, Family Resolution Council, or another form of dispute resolution. This decision will depend on the particular circumstances, including the degree to which the given matter is urgent, and whether the relationship between the parties is appropriate to seek alternative dispute resolution.

If it is appropriate to do so, Family Docket Court may schedule the given matter for a formal Court process. This may include desk application, chambers, special chambers, and more.

The Court will complete a Family Docket Court Endorsement that outlines their recommendations based on the assessment. This will be provided to the parties and their Edmonton family lawyers, where relevant. Where required, a formal Order may also be prepared.

Sometimes, due to circumstances, the family law matter may not be ready to proceed. In such a case, Family Docket Court may adjourn the matter to a future date.

Each case is unique, and the particular needs of you and your family may vary from those of others. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation, and discuss what process may best serve you.

How To Get Into Family Docket Court

The process of getting into Family Docket Court in Edmonton is fairly straightforward. Take the following steps:

  1. Select a date from the Family Docket Court online availability. To save time, it may be prudent to coordinate so that all parties involved are available.
  2. Complete a Notice to Attend Family Docket Court and a filing request form.
  3. File the documents with the Clerk, as well as sending a copy to the other party.

For more specific information, and to see how Verhaeghe Law might be able to assist you through the process, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to book your consultation.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today For a Consultation

Separation can be a tremendous change for a family to undergo, and the stress of administrative tasks and important decision-making can be overwhelming when combined with the understandable emotional toll of a relationship’s end. You do not have to navigate the legal side of a divorce or separation alone. 

At Verhaeghe Law, our Edmonton family lawyers are here to listen, and to see how we may help clarify your process. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

What Is Indefinite Support in Edmonton?

What Is Indefinite Support in Edmonton?

Money is often a major question when it comes to the end of a marriage or adult interdependent relationship. Because it is not uncommon for partners to share finances, the end of a relationship may mean significant financial changes for one or both individuals as their lives take on new directions.

Depending on the circumstances, spousal support may be ordered to help a spouse transition to financial independence. It may be ordered for a set amount of time, or it may have no determined end date, which would make it indefinite. 

To learn more, and see how our Edmonton family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law may be of service in your particular case, contact us today to set up your consultation.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is a regular payment from a higher-earning spouse or adult interdependent partner to a lower-earning spouse or adult interdependent partner following their separation. It is intended to help the lower-earning partner bridge the gap between financial circumstances in light of the relationship’s end, and transition to a financially independent life.

Every relationship is different, and the ways in which couples navigate their financial interdependence may vary vastly. In some cases, one partner may forgo their career in favour of sustaining the children and the matrimonial home while the other partner pursues income. Without spousal support, the non-earning partner may face immense financial hardship following a separation.

In some cases, spouses may set up the terms of spousal support in a separation agreement, which may indicate a period of time in which the higher-earning spouse will provide support to the other. There is no official set period for spousal support, however. If the spouses do not have a mutual agreement, a judge may decide whether spousal support is applicable, and how long it must be paid. 

Considerations for Determining Spousal Support

The court will consider many factors in determining how much spousal or partner support must be paid, and for how long. Spousal support is paid to a lower-earning spouse by a higher-earning spouse. Factors considered in determining whether it is applicable may include:

  • How long the parties were married
  • Both former spouses’ financial circumstances
  • The roles both spouses played during the marriage, e.g., homemaker/primary earner
  • Whether the spouses share children
  • Whether there are existing orders or agreements for spousal support in place
  • And more

For tailored insight into your particular circumstances, contact us to set up a consultation with our Edmonton family lawyers today.

The length of time support must be paid typically depends on how long the spouses were together, and always ends when the recipient passes away. In some cases, spousal support may end earlier. It may end when the payor passes away, unless they leave behind assets such as life insurance or RRSPs, which may continue to pay spousal support. 

Likewise, spousal support may end when the recipient spouse remarries or enters into a new adult interdependent relationship (for more details, read our blog “How Does Getting Remarried Affect Spousal Support Payments in Alberta?”) 

Spousal support orders or agreements may specify events or dates that might trigger an end to payments. Examples include when the payor spouse retires, or when the recipient spouse remarries. 

If no end dates are specified, the spousal support is indefinite. However, even indefinite spousal support in Alberta may be altered, depending on the circumstances.

When Might Spousal Support Be Indefinite?

Sometimes, a judge may order indefinite spousal support as a means of keeping the support open-ended, with the opportunity for the order to be changed or terminated in the future.

According to the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, there are two main situations in which a court may award indefinite support in Alberta:

  • When a marriage or adult interdependent relationship has lasted 20 years or longer (“Rule of 20”)
  • When the length of a marriage or adult interdependent relationship, added to the recipient’s age, equals 65 or more (“Rule of 65”)

Both situations consider the age of the recipient, and the difficulty of transitioning to financial independence after a substantial time of interdependence.

How to Change a Spousal Support Order

A spousal support order may be altered or terminated under circumstances that indicate a material change. Examples of such a change include:

  • The recipient spouse remarrying or entering a new adult interdependent relationship, in which their financial circumstances change
  • The recipient spouse having a change in their own financial status, such as receiving a substantial raise in salary, which may render them self-sufficient
  • The payor of support becoming no longer able to sustain a certain level of income, such as due to retirement, injury, or illness

To learn more, including how to change spousal or partner support in Alberta, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to schedule a consultation.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

Spousal support can be a challenging aspect to navigate in family law. What may be possible depends on the particulars of your and your former spouse’s circumstances, and may change as time goes on. For a dedicated consultation on what may be possible for you, contact us today to speak with the Edmonton family lawyers at Verhaeghe Law.


** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

How Do Relocation Rights Work in Alberta for Divorced Couples with Children?

How Do Relocation Rights Work in Alberta for Divorced Couples with Children?

When a couple with children separates, part of the divorce or separation agreement involves setting in place a parenting plan. Fundamental to what to consider when making a parenting plan, parents must settle on where the child or children will live.

Living arrangements may involve the child splitting time between both parents, or living primarily with one while frequently visiting the other, or more. Complications may arise when one of the parents decides to move far enough away that the relocation will affect the parenting schedule. Canadian law has guidelines in place to help clarify how relocation rights work in Alberta for divorced couples with children. 

Working with a legal professional may help ensure you have the information you need to make decisions. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to schedule a consultation, and learn how we may be of service in your particular case.

What Counts as a Relocation?

Under the Divorce Act, not every move is considered a relocation. A relocation is a move that renders the parents no longer able to maintain the agreed-upon parenting schedule. For example, if both parents have been living in Alberta, but one moves to New Brunswick, an equally split parenting schedule is likely no longer possible. 

While distance is often a factor, a move even within one city may sometimes be considered a relocation. The defining factor is that the parenting schedule is considerably impacted.

Giving Notice Regarding Relocation

If you are a divorced parent and have a court order that outlines certain parenting responsibilities under the Divorce Act, you are required to give notice regarding your plans to move. Within the notice, you must stipulate what your intentions are regarding where your child will live.

In a move that is not a relocation, such as within the same city, you must let the other parent know the date of your move, your new address, and updated contact information. 

If your move is a relocation, you are required to give the other parent at least 60 days’ notice of your move by filling out the formal Notice of Relocation. This form overviews:

  • When you will be moving
  • Your new address
  • Your new contact information
  • Your proposal on how the parenting and contact schedules may be altered in order to support the child in their ongoing relationships with their parents and/or guardians

If you are planning to relocate with your children, anyone who has parenting responsibility for said children has the right to formally object. If an Objection to Relocation has been filed, no one may relocate with the child until the court makes an order allowing the move to occur.

If you have questions regarding whether your move counts as a relocation, or would like support in filing notice and structuring a proposed change to your parenting schedule, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to discuss your options.

Exceptions to Notice Rules

In circumstances where one parent is afraid for their and their child’s safety, an exception may be made wherein the parent does not need to give notice to the other prior to relocating. Without telling the other parent, you may apply to the court for a change of the notice rules. The court will require evidence of domestic violence, such as calls to emergency services, police reports, and/or photographs.

Following a Notice of Relocation

Under the Divorce Act, parents are expected to continue negotiating in the efforts of coming to an agreement. Considerations may involve whether it may be possible for the moving parent to stall the move until the child is older, or whether the other parent might also relocate to the same place. If the relocating parent is moving in order to live together with a new partner, might it be possible for the new partner to instead move to the parent’s location?

If the relocating parent does move, the parents are encouraged to consider ways in which the parenting time may be rebalanced to represent the previous parenting plan. For instance, the parent who is relocating might receive extra time with the child over summer break, or over holidays, or long weekends.

It can be challenging to come to an agreement with a former spouse. The support of a professional may be invaluable in providing external support through the potentially emotional flows of negotiation. Contact us today to learn more about alternative dispute resolution, and how our Edmonton family lawyers may be able to help.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

Moving to a new jurisdiction, whether for work or personal reasons, can be a tremendously challenging decision when you share parenting responsibility of a child. As always, the best interests of the child are the priority in Canadian law. This means a relocating parent must adhere to the regulations concerning relocation under the Divorce Act. 

Whether you are a parent who is relocating, or if you are the former spouse of a parent who has told you they plan to relocate, our team of Edmonton family lawyers are here to address your questions and concerns. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and see how we may be of service to you.


** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

What You Should Know When Getting Married Outside Canada

What You Should Know When Getting Married Outside Canada

Most marriages performed legally in another country are valid in Canada, and do not require special registration when you return. However, whether you are planning a destination wedding, or are marrying a foreign national abroad, there are certain things you should know about initiating a marriage overseas.

For information specific to your circumstances, and for insights into how you might best plan for getting married outside Canada, contact our Edmonton family lawyers and schedule a consultation today.

Validating Your Marriage in Canada

In order for your marriage to be recognized within Canada, it must have been legal in the country where the union was established. Ensure that you and your spouse follow the legal requirements of a wedding, including any relevant documentation, as specific to the jurisdiction where you are getting married.

Your marriage must also be legal by Canadian federal law. In Canada, for instance, you are not permitted to marry a close relative by blood or adoption. While some countries allow polygamous marriages, in Canada you cannot legally be married to more than one person at the same time.

One of the most common roadblocks to initiating a legal marriage is the existence of a prior marriage that has not yet been dissolved. A marriage can be ended through annulment, divorce, or death. However, some countries have different laws surrounding the termination of a marriage, which may give you trouble. If you require assistance ending a pre-existing marriage, contact our Edmonton divorce lawyers today.

What If My Marriage Is Not Legal in a Foreign Country?

Countries have different laws surrounding what constitutes a marriage. The requirements for divorce may differ, and a person who may be recognized as single in Canada may still be considered married in another jurisdiction. Likewise, same-sex marriage is legal in Canada, but many countries still do not recognize it.

If you are planning to get married outside Canada as part of a destination wedding, it may be of benefit to ensure your marriage will be legal where it takes place. Alternatively, you may choose to get legally married in Canada and perform the ceremony abroad.

If you hope to sponsor your spouse to Canada, but your marriage is not considered legal where it occurred, you may still be eligible as conjugal or common-law partners. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to learn more. 

How Marriage May Affect Citizenship

In some cases, marrying a citizen of another country may give you automatic citizenship in that country. Your Canadian citizenship will not be affected, and you will continue to be recognized as a Canadian citizen when you return. 

Some countries do not recognize dual citizenship, and may not recognize you as a Canadian citizen after your marriage. This may mean the Canadian consulate in that country might not be able to help you should you need aid. In some countries, a spouse may restrict their partner’s ability to travel, and may also prevent you from seeking a separation or divorce.

For considerations specific to spousal sponsorship and other immigration concerns, contact our Edmonton immigration lawyers to set up a dedicated consultation.

Documents You May Need When Getting Married Outside Canada

Local authorities in the country where you are getting married may require you to provide specific documents to prove that you meet the requirements of that jurisdiction. Required may include, in any combination:

  • Valid Canadian passport(s)
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage search letter(s), as evidence that you are not already married
  • A single status affidavit, which is a notarized document certifying that you are single
  • Divorce certificate, if either you or your intended spouse have been previously married
  • Death certificate for a former spouse, if either you or your intended spouse are widowed
  • A certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad, which confirms there is no objection to your intended marriage
  • Premarital blood test certificate
  • Statement of parental consent
  • And more

Contact the consulate, high commission, or embassy of the country where you will be getting married. They should be able to provide you with a list of requirements specific to being married in that country. 

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

If you are getting married outside Canada, there are specific steps you will need to take in order to ensure your union is recognized. Our Edmonton family lawyers are here to help you navigate the process from beginning to end. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and learn how we may be of service to you.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.

How Does Getting Remarried Affect Spousal Support Payments in Alberta?

How Does Getting Remarried Affect Spousal Support Payments in Alberta?

A marriage or adult interdependent relationship often involves the sharing of finances. In some cases, one partner may fully support the other. If the relationship ends, the dependent partner may need support as they transition into financial self-sufficiency. This is where spousal support may come into play, with a payor spouse providing financial support to their former partner.

If a payor spouse who has been ordered by court or through a divorce or separation agreement fails to meet their spousal support obligations, they may land in legal trouble. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to discuss your particular circumstances, and learn more about your rights and obligations regarding spousal support.

What is Spousal Support?

Spousal support is a payment one former spouse makes to the other following their separation. Both the Divorce Act of Canada and the Family Law Act of Alberta outline its objectives as follows:

  • To appreciate the economic consequences, both advantages and disadvantages, to each spouse as a result of the relationship ending;
  • If there are children involved, to divide financial costs connected with their care, in addition to child support;
  • To reduce financial hardship that may have been caused by the relationship’s end; and
  • To assist in both spouses becoming financially independent within a reasonable timeframe.

A common example may be where one spouse has been financially supporting the other for a long time. When the partnership ends, the dependent spouse may need to seek further qualifications, such as re-enrolling in school, in order to pursue work. If they have been out of the job market for many years, they may require financial support while they make this transition.

Notably, spousal and partner support is not intended as a punishment, nor a reward. The actions of both spouses, positive or negative, are not taken into consideration when deciding whether or not spousal support is to be granted. The decision is made based on factors such as the length of the relationship, the functions each spouse performed during the relationship, as well as other specific conditions and/or needs of each spouse.

Each circumstance is unique. Contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to discuss what may apply in your case.

When Does Spousal Support End?

In Alberta, there is no set end for spousal support. The unique factors of each case will determine how long spousal support is to be paid. The Spousal Support Guidelines offer that in a relationship with no children, spousal support should go on for between six months to a year for each year that the spouses lived together. If the length of the relationship exceeds 20 years, or if their years of cohabitation plus the recipient’s age exceeds 65, then the payments are indefinite.

If there are children involved, the Spousal Support Guidelines advise the same guidance, with additional provisions for partnerships shorter in length. In a shorter marriage or adult interdependent relationship with children, spousal support may end when the youngest of the children begins or finishes school. There can be a wide range in the timing of spousal support, in which, ideally, the separating spouses will agree. Otherwise, a judge may order a decision based on the particulars of the case.

What Happens to Spousal Support When You Get Remarried?

Spousal support may be varied, or changed, through an application to the court. If there has been a material change in circumstances for the payor or payee spouses, affecting either their ability to pay (in the case of the payor) or their need for support (in the case of the payee), then there may be grounds for terminating spousal support. Remarriage or re-partnering can be an example of a material change in circumstances.

If a payor spouse gets remarried or enters into a new adult interdependent relationship, they are usually still obligated to pay spousal support to their former spouse.

If a payee spouse gets remarried or enters into a new adult interdependent relationship, their eligibility to receive spousal support may be affected. Getting remarried does not automatically end the spousal support - however, upon reevaluation it may be reduced, suspended, or terminated. Decisions are made case by case. Guiding factors typically include the standards of living in this new partnership, the age of the payee spouse, the new spouse’s income, and the likelihood of the payee becoming financially independent.

Contact Our Edmonton Family Lawyers Today for a Consultation

The nuances of spousal support payment can be challenging to understand, especially when one or both of the spouses gets remarried. To learn more about your legal rights and obligations, and see what support may be available to you, contact our Edmonton family lawyers today to schedule a consultation.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of family law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta family lawyer.