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I am adopted. Can I prevent my birth parents from finding out information about me?

Adoption records are controlled by the Alberta Post-Adoption Registry. As long as you are under 18 years old, your adoption record will remain sealed. After that, identifying information from your record may be released if it is officially requested and approved. Identifying information  could include names, date of birth, and place of birth.

Depending on when you were adopted, you may have some control over what information is shared.

If you were adopted before January 1, 2005, you can prevent the release of identifying information from your record by filing a Disclosure Veto form. For 6 months after your 18th birthday, your record remains sealed to give you time to do this.

If you were adopted after January 1, 2005, you cannot remain anonymous. Your identifying information will be released when an official request is approved. However, you may file a Contact Preference form saying that you do not wish to be contacted. This preference will be shared with the person requesting the information, however, it is up to that person whether they respect that preference. The contact preference is not legally binding.

No matter when you were adopted, non-identifying information (such as your province of birth or medical history) can be released once you turn 18.

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Last Reviewed: November 2016
How can I end guardianship of a child?

To terminate guardianship of a child, you must go through a court process. Before taking this step, you may wish to talk to a lawyer, as it can greatly affect your future relationship with the child.

Also, please note that if you are the biological parent of the child, giving up guardianship will not get you out of an obligation to pay child support.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
What does it mean to be “habitually resident” or “ordinarily resident” in Alberta?

The terms “habitual” or “ordinary” residence refer to where a person lives his or her daily life. This is different from where a person might occasionally stay, or even where a person often stays. It is where a person’s life is centred. Even if they are not always there, it is the place where they regularly return.

When deciding if a person is an “ordinary” or “habitual” resident, a court will consider different factors. These may include:

  • where a person was born;
  • where a person has spent, and continues to spend, most of his or her life; and
  • where a person has ties to family and the community.

In many cases, the issue of where a person is ordinarily resident will be clear. But sometimes it is not as easy to tell. For example: if you have 2 homes in 2 different provinces.

Last Reviewed: August 2016
What is the difference between the Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines?

The Alberta Child Support Guidelines are part of Alberta’s Family Law Act and can therefore apply to all non-married parents who are solving their issues using the Family Law Act. In addition, the Alberta Guidelines can also apply to married parents, if they choose to resolve their child support issues using the Family Law Act instead of the Divorce Act.

On the other hand, the Federal Guidelines are part of the Divorce Act and therefore only apply to parents who were married and are solving their separation issues using the Divorce Act.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines are similar, but have some significant differences. The four main areas of difference are:

  • when child support ends;
  • the details around deciding if someone “stood in the place of a parent”;
  • exactly what items qualify as “special expenses” and what is required to prove how much they cost; and
  • the exact rules around continued financial disclosure between the parents.

 

Last Reviewed: October 2015
I was reading an Act, but I couldn’t find any information about how much the fine for an offence would be. Why is that?

The practical details that allow laws to be enforced are generally included in “regulations.” So, a regulation is usually where you would find a detail such as what fines may be charged for an offence.

Not all laws have regulations, but all regulations are attached a particular law. The Act will state who has the authority to make regulations about that particular law. Regulations are easier to change than laws, as they do not have to be passed by the whole Legislative Assembly of Alberta or the Parliament of Canada.

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Last Reviewed: March 2016
Who does the Protection Against Family Violence Act apply to?

Under the Protection Against Family Violence Act (PAFVA), any “family member” can make a claim of family violence in order to get a Queen’s Bench Protection Order against another “family member.”

Family members” are defined as any of the following:

  • people who are related to each other by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • people who are currently married to each other, or were previously married to each other;
  • people who are currently in an Adult Interdependent Relationship, or were previously in an Adult Interdependent Relationship;
  • people who are currently living together in a romantic relationship, or were previously living together in a romantic relationship;
  • people who are the parents of children together (it does not matter if they have ever lived together or were married);
  • children who live with any of the people listed above; or
  • people who live together when one person is legally responsible for the care the other (such as a dependant adult).

This definition does not include friends, roommates, or couples who have never lived together and have no children together. In such cases, a different protective order (such as a restraining order, peace bond, or no contact order) may be an option.

Family violence” is defined as any of the following:

  • purposely causing injury;
  • breaking furniture or other items;
  • threatening the victim or creating a reasonable fear of injury or property damage;
  • forced confinement (that is, when a victim is held somewhere against his or her will);
  • stalking (including following, watching, and communicating in-person, over the phone, or online); or
  • unwanted sexual contact.

This definition does not include verbal or emotional abuse (other than threats). However, that does not mean that “family members” suffering verbal or emotional abuse cannot get a protective order under PAFVA. It just may be a bit harder. In such cases, a different protective order (such as a restraining order, peace bond, or no contact order) may be an option.

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Last Reviewed: June 2017
My former Adult Interdependent Partner has an illness that won’t allow him/her to return to work. Does that mean I have to pay partner support forever?

Not necessarily.


The law recognizes several reasons for providing partner support, and these reasons form the basis of “entitlement” to partner support. Your former partner must first show an entitlement to partner support. Once an entitlement is shown, there are many factors that go into deciding how much support should be given and for how long.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Can my roommate and I make a cohabitation agreement, or is it for couples only?

A cohabitation agreement can be made between both romantic and non-romantic partners. Keep in mind that between non-romantic partners, there is still a difference between an agreement for people who are or will be living in a “relationship of interdependence” and an agreement for people who are just “sharing space.” Depending on whether you will be living in a “relationship of interdependence” (that is, with close ties to each other beyond sharing space) or just as roommates, the issues you will want to deal with in your agreement will be very different.

For example, two people who are roommates are likely not worried about financially supporting each other if one person moves out. As such, partner support is probably not an issue that will come up in their agreement. But, two people who live together in a “relationship of interdependence” might have concerns about partner support if they were to separate, so they may address this issue in their agreement. As such, the difference between a cohabitation agreement and a roommate agreement results from both the nature of the relationship and the different issues that are addressed in the agreement.

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
My ex moved to another country and has now stopped paying child support. Is there any way I can get the support money?

Maybe. Alberta has “reciprocity agreements” with over 80 different jurisdictions, including all the Canadian provinces and territories, all of the U.S. states, and some other foreign countries. Under these reciprocity agreements, Alberta and these other jurisdictions (called “reciprocating jurisdictions”) will recognize and honour each other’s laws and orders about support.

If your ex now lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction, Alberta’s Maintenance Enforcement Program can forward your court order for registration and enforcement in that country.

If the country your ex moved to is not a reciprocating jurisdiction, enforcing the court order is much more complex and not always possible. Consider getting legal advice to discuss your options. 

Last Reviewed: October 2015
The daycare staff at my workplace are willing to bring my baby up to my office when he is ready to be breastfed. Can my boss refuse to allow that?

No. Your employer cannot refuse to let you breastfeed in public or in the workplace, and must accommodate breastfeeding. For example, by allowing you to time your breaks so you can breastfeed your child.

This protection against discrimination comes from both the Alberta Human Rights Act and the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Last Reviewed: February 2017
I have two children with two different mothers. Can I count the two children together, or do I have to calculate child support separately for each?

No. When there are separate families, there are separate calculations.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
How do I prove adultery to get a divorce?

Usually, the person who committed adultery will sign an Affidavit (a sworn statement) saying that he or she did so. That is enough proof for the court.

On the other hand, if your spouse is not willing to sign such an Affidavit, you will have to prove the adultery. You will do this in an Affidavit of your own, which is a public court record. As you can imagine, this is not easy to do. Also, dealing with this topic can make an already difficult situation even worse. This is one of the reasons why people sometimes choose the one-year separation option as their “grounds for divorce” instead of adultery.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Do I have to be a Canadian citizen to get married in Alberta?

No. To get married in Alberta, you just need to get a valid marriage licence. This is a document that shows that a couple has met all the requirements to get married in Alberta.

Be Aware

If one or both of the people getting married are not fluent in English, an interpreter is required. This is to make sure that each person understands the information that they are getting. If one of the people getting married is fluent in English but the other is not, an interpreter is still required. In other words, the people getting married cannot translate or interpret the information for each other. Finding an interpreter is the couple’s responsibility.


 
Last Reviewed: August 2016
What is a Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a document that gives another person the power to make your financial decisions for you.

There are different kinds of Powers of Attorney:

  • An Immediate Power of Attorney takes effect immediately and ends at a specific date or after a certain decision has been made.
  • An Immediate and Enduring Power of Attorney takes effect immediately and continues if you become unable to make your own financial decisions.
  • An Enduring Power of Attorney (also called a “Springing Power of Attorney”) takes effect only when you become unable to make your own financial decisions.

A Power of Attorney does not cover personal or medical decisions. For that you need a Personal Directive.

Last Reviewed: April 2016
My mother still has capacity. Can I help her with personal and medical decision-making without any legal paperwork?

Not necessarily.

It is sometimes possible for a person to “help” someone else with personal decision-making without legal paperwork in place. However, having the legal paperwork has additional benefits. For example:

  • Without the paperwork in place, you can be stopped from helping at any time.
  • With paperwork in place, a helper has the legal authority to access relevant personal information that might otherwise be protected under privacy laws. Sometimes it is not possible to help someone make personal decisions if you do not have this information.
  • When you are officially named as a helper by completing the legal paperwork, there is likely no one else who is authorized to help with personal decision-making. This can be helpful if you are trying to protect your mother from someone else who might be abusive.

Under Alberta’s Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act, there are two options for a person with capacity to formally get help with personal decisions.

  1. Supported decision-making. This is for people who still have capacity but who may need a bit of help from someone they trust when making personal decisions. The person being helped and the person doing the helping sign a document called an “Authorization.”
  2. Co-decision-making. This is an option for people who still have capacity but who need significant help in making personal decisions. The person being helped and the person doing the helping apply to court and, once an order is granted, they make decisions together.
Last Reviewed: April 2016

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