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What is the difference between kinship care, foster care, and guardianship of a child?

“Guardianship” describes the legal decision-making powers, rights, and responsibilities that adults have about a child. In other words, a “guardian” of a child is an adult who is legally responsible for taking care of the child.

Kinship Care is a program of the Alberta government. Through this program, children who have already come into the care of Child and Family Services are placed with extended family members. For example: children may be placed with grandparents, or a family member that the child already knows.

Foster Care is a program of the Alberta government. Through this program, children who have come into the care of Child and Family Services are placed in temporary homes with people they do not know. Children may stay in a foster home for only a few days, or many years.

Last Reviewed: November 2016
Do I have to do what the court order says?

Yes. If you do not follow a court order, you are in “breach” of the order. Someone who does not obey a court order could be found to be “in contempt of court.” If someone is found in contempt of court, they may be fined, imprisoned, or both. Although rare in family law cases, the penalties can be serious.

If you think you have a good reason not to follow the court order, there are steps you may be able to take. But, you cannot do this without first taking the matter back to court.

For information about your options, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

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Last Reviewed: July 2017
I missed my court hearing. What can I do?

If you were the person who applied for the hearing, then your matter was likely dismissed. If that happened, you will need to start over.

If you were the person responding, a decision will probably have been made without your input.  You may be able to apply to the Court to “set aside” the decision that was made. This means you are asking the Court to cancel the decision. This is not an easy thing to do.

In either case, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

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Last Reviewed: July 2017
My court order is out of Edmonton but I live in Lethbridge. Do I have to go to Edmonton to make my next court Application?

You might. The rules about what to do depend on:

  • which court gave the Order (Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench); and
  • what the Order is about.

For more information, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

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Last Reviewed: July 2017
What is the difference between an “Affidavit” and a “Statement”?

Statements and Affidavits are similar in many ways. They are both documents that you can use to give the Court “evidence.” In them, you include the facts that you will rely on when making your claim. Both kinds of documents must be “sworn” or “affirmed” to be true.

Statements are used for actions under the Family Law Act. The Family Law Act was introduced as a way for families to resolve their issues more quickly and cheaply than under other laws. To do this, special forms were created (the Claim and the Statements), and simpler rules we created to go along with those forms. These forms are mostly fill-in-the-blank.

Affidavits are generally not fill-in-the-blank forms. Instead, you include what you want to say in numbered paragraphs. Also, there are additional rules that must be followed.

Affidavits are used in all actions are that are not under the Family Law Act. However, under the Family Law Act, Affidavits can be used for specific purposes, such as:

  • to prove that court documents have been properly served (the “Affidavit of Service”);
  • to provide more evidence than can be included in a Statement; or
  • to provide evidence from someone else.
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Last Reviewed: July 2017
What is an Affidavit and what can go in it?

An Affidavit is a written statement that is sworn, or affirmed, to be true, and used as evidence in legal proceedings. Usually, you include what you want to say in numbered paragraphs.

Information that you include in an Affidavit must be limited to facts that you personally know. In other words, you can only include what you saw, heard, did, or said. The information should not be an opinion. Also, the facts must be relevant to the issues between the parties.   

You can attach copies of evidence (for example: letters, bank statements, or pictures) to Affidavits as “exhibits.”

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Last Reviewed: July 2017
Can I serve documents to someone who lives outside of Alberta?

If the person that you need to serve lives outside of Alberta, it is possible to serve them “outside of the jurisdiction.” This is called “service ex juris.”

The exact requirements to do this will depend on whether you are going to Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Be Aware

The time limits for service are different than those for service within Alberta. You will need to find out about this, as it will likely affect the timing of your court date.



If the person you are serving lives permanently outside of Alberta, there will be many other things to consider before making an application to court. For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.
Last Reviewed: July 2017
What can I do if I’m not available to go to court on the court date? Can I get an “adjournment” to delay the court date?

Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond their control, one or both of the parties will not be able to attend court, or will not be prepared for court. It is possible to ask for a court hearing date to be moved. This is called an “adjournment.”

If both of you agree, you can arrange for an adjournment in advance of the court hearing date. You would do this by contacting the court clerks in your judicial centre.

Or, either one of you could ask for an adjournment on the date of the court hearing. Judges often grant such adjournments, but not always. You must have a good reason to ask for an adjournment. The Court is not pleased if adjournments are just requested as a delay tactic. The Court keeps track of all adjournment requests. If there are too many requests for adjournments, the Court may deny the request or even impose penalties.

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Last Reviewed: March 2017
Do you have to report elder abuse?

It depends.

Elders who are receiving publicly funded services that support their physical or mental health are protected from abuse under Alberta’s Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA). These services include:

  • nursing homes,
  • approved hospitals,
  • lodge accommodation,
  • mental health facilities,
  • certain shelters or hostels, and
  • day programs.

People who are protected under the PPCA are often called people “in care.” If you believe that a person in care has been abused, you are required to report it as soon as possible. It is the law. However, victims are not required to report their own abuse. Elders may have strong reasons for choosing not to report abuse themselves. In fact, it is common for elders to resist help if abuse is reported without their consent. But it is still important to help elders recognize the abuse and get help.

If the person is in immediate danger, call 911. Otherwise, call the Protection for Persons in Care Information and Reporting Line at 1-888-357-9339. Staff at the reporting line can tell you whether the care situation is covered by the PPCA, and whether you should report elsewhere (for example: to the police or a health profession regulatory body). 

Be Aware

The Protection for Persons in Care Information and Reporting Line is not a crisis line. It only operates during the day on weekdays.

There is no legal requirement to report elder abuse that occurs in settings not covered by the Protection for Persons in Care Act.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
If an elder is being abused, why don't they just tell someone about it?

Elders are often very reluctant to report being abused. They may not be ready to leave the relationship, to insist that an abusive adult child move out, or to ask for a new caregiver. There are many possible reasons for this.

For example, victims might:

  • care about the abuser and not want the abuser to get into trouble,
  • fear being put in an institution,
  • think that they deserve the abuse,
  • not be able to leave due to illness, disability, injury, or other physical problems,
  • not have any other family or friends to go to,
  • be scared that the abuser will hurt them if they try to leave,
  • think that the situation will improve soon and that the abuser will stop hurting them,
  • be scared that the abuser will hurt their pets if they leave,
  • not realize that they are being abused,
  • think that the abuse is not that serious,
  • not have any money of their own because the abuser controls the family finances, and/or
  • not know about services and places that can help victims of elder abuse.
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Last Reviewed: June 2017
What makes elders vulnerable to abuse?

Abusers want to have power and be in control. Some aspects of aging can make it easier for an abuser to take advantage of an elder.

For example, elders may:

  • have physical or mental health issues,
  • be socially isolated,
  • have difficulties with memory,
  • be more dependent on others for help with daily tasks like transportation or shopping, and/or
  • not understand modern technology, such as online banking.

Also, elders may have certain beliefs about family that could make them vulnerable. For example, an elder who is abused by their adult child might think: “I raised this child, so I am responsible for this behaviour.” Or, an elder might feel a duty to care for the abuser, because the abuser is their partner or adult child with “problems.” An elder may also want to protect the abuser because “families have to stick together no matter what.”

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Last Reviewed: June 2017
My friend no longer has capacity. I think he is being mistreated by the person who is making his decisions for him. Is there anything I can do?

Yes, you can report suspected abuse to the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. This includes suspected mistreatment by:

  • an Agent named in a Personal Directive;
  • a Guardian appointed under a Guardianship Order; and/or
  • a Trustee appointed under a Trusteeship Order.

If you suspect abuse by an Attorney named in a Power of Attorney, you can report it to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
Can I do anything to protect myself so that I don’t become a victim of elder abuse in the future?

Yes. As you age, there are some steps you can take to make yourself less vulnerable to abuse. The most important thing is to make plans for the future while you are still healthy and independent.

You can take some general steps, such as:

  • staying connected to other supportive people,
  • being cautious about your living arrangements,
  • keeping control of your finances for as long as possible,
  • developing strong professional supports, and
  • practicing good personal safety.

To prepare for future incapacity, you can make a Personal Directive and an Enduring Power of Attorney to name who you would want to make personal and financial decisions on your behalf. Be aware that there are safeguards you can put in place to make it less likely that the person you name will be able to abuse you.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
Are there shelters available specifically for elders?

Edmonton and Calgary each have a shelter dedicated to helping seniors who are being abused. In other centres, seniors may be able to get help in leaving abusive situations through general shelters or other organizations. 

You can call the Family Violence Info Line to learn more about what services are available around the province. Their toll-free phone number is 310-1818, and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 170 languages.

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Last Reviewed: June 2017
Does elder abuse actually happen in care facilities?

Yes, abuse does happen in situations where elders are receiving care for their physical or mental health. The abuser could be a staff member, another client, or even family members.

Alberta’s Protection for Persons in Care Act (PPCA) requires the service providers to:

  • protect their clients from abuse within the care situation, and
  • keep their clients safe from abuse by others.

The PPCA also requires that anyone who believes that a person in care has been abused must report it as soon as possible.

Be Aware

People in care who have experienced abuse are not required to report their own abuse. If an abused person decides to report the abuse, they must make that report no later than two years from the date the incident occurred.

Under the PPCA, consolidated statistics on the reports of abuse are made available to the public. For more information, see PPC statistical reports.

Last Reviewed: June 2017

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