Child Support under the Family Law Act (non-married & married parents)

Law

Separating parents can use Alberta’s Family Law Act to deal with child support matters. See the sections below to learn more about:

  • The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines
  • Who can get child support
  • Calculating child support
  • Tax issues about child support
  • The rights and responsibilities of non-biological parents
  • Changing child support (including retroactive child support)
  • Enforcing child support agreements and orders (including arrears)
  • Solving child support matters out of court
  • Going to court to deal with child support issues

Choose the Process tab above for checklists, forms, and detailed information about the court process.

Be Aware

The Family Law Act may not apply to you. Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” just below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here.

Last Reviewed: March 2017
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page contains information about child support for parents whose relationship is breaking down.

It is important to understand that child support is directly linked to the issues of guardianship and parenting, so you will need to know about that as well. See the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page for more information.

This Information Page is mainly for parents who were not in a married relationship and whose relationship is breaking down.

  • The law that applies to parents who were not in a married relationship is the Alberta Family Law Act. The information on this Information Page is all about the Family Law Act.
  • To be clear, if you were not married, Canada’s Divorce Act and Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act do not apply to you: both of these laws can only apply to people who were married.

This Information Page can also apply to married parents, depending on the choices they are making. This is because, for parenting and support issues, married parents have a choice which law they use when they separate: the can use Canada’s Divorce Act, or Alberta’s Family Law Act.

  • If you were married and you choose to deal with your child support issues using Canada’s Divorce Act, this is the wrong Information Page—see the Child Support under the Divorce Act Information Page instead.
  • If you were married and you choose to deal with your child support issues using Alberta’s Family Law Act, this is the correct Information Page.
  • The choice of which law to use is extremely important. If you are not sure which law you want to use, see the Ending a Married Relationship Information Page, which explains what to consider when choosing.

If you are not sure if you were married or not, see the Getting Married Information Page.

In general, the law and processes described on this Information Page are about people who live in Alberta. This is because Alberta’s Family Law Act generally requires that the children and at least one of the guardians should live in Alberta. It may not be possible for your matter to be heard in Alberta if:

  • any of your issues will involve courts in another province (or have already);
  • any of the parties live in another province; or
  • any of the parties have been “ordinarily resident” outside of Alberta during the past year.

For more information about out-of-province issues, including how “ordinarily resident” is defined, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

You are currently on the Law tab of this Information Page, which has information on what the law says in Alberta. For information on the process you need to follow to ask for what you want, click on the Process tab above. There is also important information in the Common Questions and Myths tabs above.

The law and legal system are complex: this will take a while. Be sure to give yourself enough time to read the information below, understand how it applies to your situation, and know what actions you may need to take.

What the words mean

These words are not listed alphabetically—they are in the order that makes it easiest to understand the complete legal picture.

If you are looking for a specific term, you can use the Glossary, which is in alphabetical order.

child support

Money paid by a parent or someone who “stood in the place of a parent” to help pay for the living expenses of a child after a separation or divorce. Child support is sometimes called “child maintenance.”

Federal Child Support Guidelines (also called the “Federal Guidelines” or “FCSG”)

The Federal Child Support Guidelines, along with the Federal Child Support Tables, are a set of rules and tables for calculating the amount of support that a paying parent should contribute toward his or her children after separation or divorce. The Federal Child Support Guidelines are part of the Divorce Act. As a result, they only apply to parents who were married and are solving their child support issues using the Divorce Act.

However, many provinces have adopted some parts of the Federal Guidelines into their own child support laws, including Alberta. Alberta has its own Alberta Child Support Guidelines (also called the “Alberta Guidelines” or “ACSG”), which are based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

The Federal Guidelines and the Alberta Guidelines are very similar but have some significant differences. For more information, see the “The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines” section below.

Alberta Child Support Guidelines (also called the “Alberta Guidelines” or “ACSG”)

The Alberta Child Support Guidelines are a set of rules for calculating the amount of support that a paying parent should contribute toward his or her children after separation or divorce. The Alberta Guidelines use the Federal Child Support Tables for calculating this amount.

The Alberta Guidelines were created to help children whose parents were not married. This is because the Federal Child Support Guidelines only apply to parents who were married and are solving their separation issues using the Divorce Act. The Alberta Guidelines were created as part of the Family Law Act to be used in all cases where the Divorce Act does not apply. In other words, the Alberta Child Support Guidelines apply to:

  • all non-married parents; and
  • married parents who choose to resolve their child support issues using the Family Law Act instead of the Divorce Act.

The Federal Guidelines and the Alberta Guidelines are very similar but have some significant differences. For more information, see the “The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines” section below.

financial disclosure

The process of giving your financial information to someone else. This information usually includes such things as:

  • tax returns
  • income information (such as pay stubs)
  • a list of property you own (including the current value)
  • statements about investments you have (including the current value)

Depending on the situation, it may include much more information.

When separating or divorcing, parties give each other this information so that fair solutions can be reached. If you are going to court about child support, spousal/partner support, or division of property, this information will be required by the court.

Declaration of Parentage

An official document from a court saying that someone is either:

  • a parent of a child; or
  • not a parent of a child.

in loco parentis / “in the place of a parent”

In loco parentis is a Latin term meaning “in the place of a parent.” This phrase describes a situation where someone who was not the parent of a child nevertheless acted as a parent to that child. As a result, this person may wish to (or be required to) take on legal rights and responsibilities as if he or she were a parent. In the Family Law Act, this concept is called “in the place of a parent” (but you may still hear it called “in loco parentis”).

“best interests of the child”

The factors that parents, guardians, and/or the Court must consider when making decisions about a child. The best interests of the child “test” is made up of many considerations that focus on the well-being of the child.

For example: 

  • the physical, psychological, and emotional safety and well-being of the child;
  • the child’s need for stability, taking into consideration the child’s age and stage of development and attachment;
  • the child’s history of care;
  • the child’s cultural and religious background; and
  • the child’s opinion (if the child is mature enough to form an opinion).

payor

The person paying child support to another person.

recipient

The person getting child support from another person.

party

Any person involved in a dispute. It can also refer to each of the people who sign a contract.

application

A court process where one party (the “applicant”) asks the Court for something, and gives the Court evidence about why he or she should get it. As part of the process, the “other side” (the “respondent”) can show the Court evidence about why the applicant should not get what he or she is requesting. The respondent may even ask for something different. The applicant could then respond to that request.

Applications are smaller, individual parts of the court action, but they are related to an ongoing case. One case may have several applications. Court hearings (when the parties appear before a judge) are part of the application process, but not all applications involve going to court hearings: it is possible for the parties to come to an agreement before the hearing.

Applications can deal with:

  • preliminary matters (for example: whether the Alberta courts have the authority to hear a case);
  • temporary matters (for example: how much child support will be paid for now, while one parent looks for a job);
  • procedural matters (for example: what a person should do if they cannot find the other party to give them a copy of all the paperwork);
  • “pre-trial” matters (for example: where the children will live for now, until there is a trial on the bigger of issue of whether one parent can move away with the children); and
  • things that come up after the trial that are still related to the case.

The Court’s decision in an application is called an “order” and is generally not the final decision in the matter. Usually, a final decision comes only after trial. That decision is called a “judgment.” However, many parties choose to never go to trial. Instead, they just accept the Order(s) granted in applications as a permanent solution, without ever getting a final “judgment.”

applicant

The person who starts a court application to ask the Court to do something. The applicant is one of the “parties” in a court application.

respondent

The person who has a court application brought against him or her. The respondent is one of the “parties” in a court application.

“swearing” or “affirming” something

When you “swear” something, you are making a promise that what you are saying is true. This promise is often made over an object that is holy to you (such as the Bible, the Torah, or the Koran), or in the name of a deity you believe in (such as God or Allah). This is also called taking “an oath.” For people who do not want to swear over a holy book or in the name of a deity, this promise is called “affirming.”


If you swear that something you wrote is true, it may be called a “sworn” statement.

enforcement

Forcing something to be done or forcing someone to act in a specific way because of a law, rule, or court order.

The laws that may apply to you

As you work through your child support and separation issues, you may wish to read the laws (also called “statutes” or “acts”) that apply. The laws included on this Information Page are:

Web Family Law Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Alberta Child Support Guidelines
Government of Alberta
English

Web Federal Child Support Guidelines
Government of Canada
English

Interactive Child Support Table Look-up
Government of Canada
English


Web Alberta Rules of Court
Government of Alberta
English

Web Provincial Court Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English


Web Alberta Evidence Act
Government of Alberta
English

Web Canada Evidence Act
Government of Canada
English

Web Indian Act
Government of Canada
English

When reading laws, you also need to know about the “regulations” associated with those laws. Each of the links above takes you to a page that lists the laws as well as the regulations that go with them. For more information on laws and regulations, including what they are and how they work, see the Our Legal System Information Page.

If you plan on representing yourself in court, you will also need to understand the concept of “common law” (also called “case law”). In general, these terms refer to the idea that it is up to judges hearing individual cases to decide:

If you plan on representing yourself in court, you will also need to know about “case law.” In general, “case law” refers to the idea that it is up to judges hearing individual cases to decide:

  1. the exact meaning of the words in the laws (called “interpretation”), and
  2. how that meaning applies to the people in those cases (called “application”).  

This means that what happens in other cases can affect what happens in your case. It also means that there are cases decided before that govern how cases are decided now. For more information on case law, see the Our Legal System Information Page and Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

The following resource lists some of the leading cases in family law.

Alberta’s two-court system

In some provinces, any “family law” matter goes to a specialized family court: everyone is in the same court. This is not the case in Alberta. In Alberta, you will have to choose one of two courts. Your choice can depend on what law you use and exactly what you are asking for.

Remember

This Information Page discusses the Alberta Family Law Act.Under the Family Law Act, if you need to go to court, you have to choose between two courts: Provincial Court and Court of Queen’s Bench.

Although you may not ultimately go to court (for example, if you and the other guardian/parent reach an agreement out of court), you need to consider your court options anyway, because some legal options may only be available in one of the two courts.

  • On this Law tab of this Information Page, if certain options regarding child support are only available to you in one of the two courts, we will note it below with one of these icons:
Provincial Court

 

Queen's Bench

 

  • On the Process tab of this Information Page, you will be asked to choose either Provincial Court or Court of Queen’s Bench, and the related processes will appear.

Also keep in mind that this Information Page deals only with child support. When you are using Alberta’s Family Law Act to address your child support issues there may be other things to consider, such as guardianship and parenting and partner support. Which court you choose also affects each of these topics, and there may be parts of these topics that can only be dealt with in one of the two courts. In addition, you should keep in mind that dividing property can only be dealt with in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

As a result, if you do decide to go to court, be sure to read about ALL of the topics that you need to address, before deciding which court is best for you.

Be Aware

Wherever possible, the Alberta courts prefer to keep all matters relating to one family within one level of court.

For detailed information on the differences between the 2 courts, see the following resources and the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page [FLProblems001].

PDF The Canadian Legal System: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Tip

You do not have to go to court to solve your separation issues. There are many ways to resolve legal issues out of court. These are often faster and less expensive than going to court. For more information, see the “Out of court resolution options” section below.

If there has been family violence

Has there been any domestic abuse in the family—whether it was toward you, the children, or both? It is very important to recognize and admit this, both to yourself and to any organizations you approach for help. Everyone involved must be kept safe.

Also, family violence is often a critical factor in what happens in family law proceedings. If there was violence against the child, it could even dictate how you must proceed. See the rest of this section for more information.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, there are a few places to start.

  • Be honest and upfront about it. Violence does not go away on its own. See the What is Family Violence? Information Page for more information.
  • Know that it is never your fault, or the fault of the child. The responsibility belongs only to the abuser.
  • If you are planning on leaving a violent situation and deciding which steps to take first, see the Safety Planning Information Page.
  • There is no single right way to proceed—it will depend on the exact details of your case. Sometimes, mediation and other collaborative processes may not be possible. On the other hand, sometimes going to court may not be the best option. Learn about Family Violence and the Legal Process.
  • A court can grant orders quickly if necessary. These are called “interim” orders. For information about these, see the Process tab of this Information Page.
  • There are criminal laws and protective laws that might be able to help.
  • Abusive situations are complicated. Consider talking to a lawyer (or another person who is helping you with your legal issues) about the best way to proceed. For more information, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help and Working with a Lawyer Information Pages.
  • Do not just believe an abuser who has told you that “You can’t leave me” or “You’ll get nothing.” It is not up to the abuser; it is a question of law. Keep reading to find out more.

Parents’ rights and children’s rights

As a starting point, under law:

  • both parents generally have guardianship of their children;
  • the children have a right to see both parents; and
  • both parents are responsible for financially supporting their children.

Sometimes even violence against the children does not affect the basics of family law as much as you might expect. For example, some people believe that if one parent has been abusive to a child, that parent would not be allowed to have guardianship of the child, or get to see the child. That is not necessarily true. The Alberta court system always places a high value on contact with both parents. It is very rare that a parent will not be granted parenting time (even if the parent is in jail).

However, there are options available to help keep both you and the children safe, such as safe transfer and supervised access. For more information about these, see the Family Violence: Resources to Help Information Page.

Parental abduction

A non-abusive parent may be tempted to just take the child, leave the area, and not allow any contact with the other parent. This can lead to legal problems. A parent who takes the child in this way may be criminally charged with abduction.

Or, an abusive parent may try to take the children as a way to further abuse and control you. If your children have been abducted by the other parent, call 911.

Be Aware

“Child abduction” refers to one parent taking a child to another jurisdiction without consent from the other parent. It is much more serious than simply not returning the child on time after a visit.

For more information about parental abduction, see the “Child abduction” sections of the Family Breakdown & Out-of-Province Issues Information Page and the following resources.

Web What is child abduction and is it a crime?
Legal Aid Alberta
English

Web Child Abduction
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Kids
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English



Web Parental Child Abduction
MissingKids.ca
English

Web Custody, Child Abduction and the Hague Convention
Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
English

Web Abduction Information
Child Abduction Legal Information
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Episode 213- Child Abduction with Crystal Dunahee
AdviceScene
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Child abuse and involving Child Protective Services

Child abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Neglect
  • Emotional abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

For information about recognizing child abuse, see the Child Abuse Information Page.

Under Alberta law, anyone who believes that a child might be in need of protection must report it to Child Protective Services. This is required by Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Be Aware

A non-abusive parent may decide to call Child Protective Services (CPS). CPS has a duty to investigate any reports of abuse. However, once the parents have separated, Child Protective Services may view the matter as a “custody dispute” and prefer that it be dealt with through the family law court system.

If you think a child is in need of protection, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1‑800‑387‑5437 (KIDS) to speak with a caseworker.

When you report a child in need of protection, Child Protective Services will investigate the situation. For more information about what happens after a report is made, see the Child Protection Information Page.

For more information about your duty to report suspected child abuse, see the following resources.

Web How can I help?
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Responding to Child Abuse in Alberta: A Handbook
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 1 of the Handbook.

Web Teachers: How to recognize and report child abuse
John Howard Society of Alberta
English

How to use this website

Many of the resources on this Information Page have both general family law information as well as how that information applies in situations of family violence. Where appropriate, resources specific to situations of domestic violence are noted with this icon:

Family Violence

 

Be sure to read these resources thoroughly, because it is sometimes difficult to understand what to do in situations of violence without understanding the legal picture in general.

More information

The following resources have general information about what you can do in situations of family violence. There is also more information on the Family Violence and the Legal Process Information Page.

Web Kids
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Family Law in Alberta: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 10-11.

Web Domestic Abuse and Your Legal Rights
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
See “Family Law Issues.”

Presentation Overview of Family Law
YWCA Canada
English

PDF Parenting After Separation (PAS) Parent's Guide
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 22.



PDF Live Safe — End Abuse: Parenting
Legal Services Society
Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Punjabi, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Making Appropriate Parenting Arrangements in Family Violence Cases: Applying the Literature to Identify Promising Practices
Government of Canada
English
This is a research paper. Although it has important general information, it is long and can be a challenge to read. Start on p. 31.

At the start: Breakup has just occurred

Sometimes, a separation can come as a bit of a surprise. Perhaps your partner has just told you that he or she is leaving. Maybe it is you who is ready to leave. If there is a child in the relationship, one of your first thoughts will likely be “What do we do about the child?” This can be scary and overwhelming. That is natural. For detailed information on things to consider when family breakdown has just occurred, see the Immediate Issues for All Separating Couples Information Page.

The following resource is a good overview of things to consider when leaving a relationship. Although the title refers to women, this is good information for men as well. Be aware, this is a resource out of Prince Edward Island, so purely legal information about provincial laws do not apply to Albertans, but there is much other good information.

PDF Moving On: A Practical Guide for Women Leaving a Relationship
Government of Prince Edward Island
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Aller de l’avant: Guide pratique à l’intention des femmes qui décident de mettre fin à une relation
Government of Prince Edward Island
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

In terms of parenting and child support in particular, there are a few initial things to know. The rest of this section has information about:

  • Keeping the children in mind
  • The rights of both parents
  • The right of the child to support
  • Coming to an agreement
  • Making temporary arrangements
  • Moving away
  • Getting important documents
  • Slowing down
  • Learning

Keep the children in mind

Separation and divorce is often very difficult on the children. They see things differently than their parents, and their needs are different than those of their parents. At this time, more than ever, the children need help and support from their parents. This is especially challenging for parents since it is such a stressful time.

It is normal to be concerned about what the other parent may do. For example, you may worry that he or she may keep the children from you and not let you see them. Or that he or she may leave with the children. While these concerns are normal, they very rarely occur. Remember that if the other parent has been a good parent up to now, they will probably continue to be a good parent and consider the children’s needs.

For information on how to help your children successfully manage the situation, please see the following resources.

Web Parent Guide
Justice Education Society
English

Web Guide de Parents
Justice Education Society
French




Web Co-Parenting Tip Sheets
Calgary Catholic Immigration Society
Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Spanish, Swahili, Vietnamese
See “Co-Parenting Tip Sheets” at the bottom of the page.

Video Your Children are Suffering
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Divorce et séparation : Considérations juridiques
Family Law NB
French
This resource is from outside Alberta.Learn more here. Cette ressource a été créé pour les couples mariés, mais beaucoups de concepts s’appliquent aux couples non-mariés.

The following resource is not available online. The link below will give you an overview of the resource, and you can find the full text at libraries across Alberta. For more information about using these libraries, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

Both parents have rights

In most cases, unless ordered otherwise by a court, both parents have guardianship of a child and the child generally has the right to spend time with each of the parents. Similarly, until ordered otherwise by a court, both parents have a say in decisions that affect the child. This means that neither parent, not even the parent who did most of the child care, is presumed to have a legal right to parenting time over the other parent. Similarly, unless ordered otherwise by a court, both parents have a say in decisions that affect the child. The parenting arrangement you end up with will directly affect the child support.

Child support is the right of the child—not the parents

Just like both parents have rights, the children also have rights. When their parents separate, the children have a right to financial support from both parents, and both parents have a legal responsibility to provide this support. There are also rules about how much financial support must be provided.

Many parents do not realize that child support is the right of the child, and they may try to negotiate for too little child support, or no child support at all. For example: one parent may suggest that he or she will give up decision-making power over the children in order to avoid paying child support. Or, one parent may suggest that the other parent get all of the property, and in exchange, the parent without the property will pay less child support. This sort of arrangement is very difficult to make with child support. This is because child support is the right of the child. Parents cannot just negotiate away the rights of the children.

You can agree

If possible, you can come to an agreement with your partner. Going to court is not a requirement. You can even agree on child support before you actually leave. For more information about how to do that, see the “How is child support calculated?” and the “Out of court resolution options” sections below.

Temporary arrangements are possible

Whether you come to an agreement on your own or have to involve a court, you can start with temporary solutions. You do not have to decide about the rest of the child’s life right now, or even in the next month. Temporary, or “interim,” arrangements can be made, and this includes child support. If the parents cannot agree on initial arrangements for the children, they can get an “interim” (temporary) order from the Court that makes arrangements for the children in the first few weeks or months. This can be done quite quickly.

As the children age, there will need to be changes. So it is best to consider what needs to be done now and not worry about possible future changes until they occur.

For more information about going to court to get an interim child support order, see the “Filing court paperwork for the first time” section on the Process tab of this Information Page.

You can’t just move away and take the kids

You might think that you don’t need, or want, child support and that you can just move away with the children. That is not the case. Remember: child support is the right of the child—you cannot simply decide that the child should not have it.

A parent cannot simply leave, or move away, and the take the child without letting the other parent know. If they do, they may be criminally charged. If a parent removes and hides a child under the age of 14 from the other parent, without that parent’s consent, it is a crime. Even if the child is over 14, this could create legal issues for the parent. This could lead to many more problems later on.

This does not mean that you cannot leave with the children, if you do so, you must make arrangements right away for the other parent to have parenting time with the child. See the following resources for more information.

Web Unilateral Relocations – Don’t Do It!
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Can I take my child with me when I leave my abusive partner?
Community Legal Education Ontario
English
This resource is from outside Alberta.Learn more here.

For more information on the possibility of getting charged with abduction, see the following resources.

Web Child Abduction
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

 

For more information about moving while dealing with child support and other family law issues, see the information about making parenting plans on the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page.

You also might not want to just move out and leave the children

Some parents simply move out (or away) and leave the child with the other parent without making any arrangements to see the child. Some parents do this because they think they can “get out of” paying child support. That is not true.

Also, moving out at this stage could make it look like you thought leaving the child with your partner was in the best interests of the child. This could make it harder for you in the future to get an order for your child to live primarily with you. These living arrangements will also affect the issue of child support.


See the following resource for more information.

Get any important documents you need

Once you leave, it may be difficult to get any important documents that you may need. Take a moment to get copies of items such as:

  • your last 3 years’ tax returns,
  • financial documents,
  • birth certificates,
  • health care cards, and
  • personal identification.

For more information, see the following resource.

PDF Living Together or Living Apart
Legal Services Society
Chinese, English, French, Punjabi, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See p. 10.

Slow down if you can

If at all possible, try not to make rash decisions. Taking time to think and plan can save you trouble later on. For example: not letting the other parent see their children for several weeks could lead to resentment that takes months to die down.

However, if safety is an issue for either you or the children, see the family violence-related information above.


For general tips on transition challenges and how to make the separation process easier on everyone involved, see the following resource.

PDF Tips for Separated Parents
Government of Alberta
English

Learn

Take the time to learn about the law that applies. It is important. Consider talking to a lawyer (or legal advocate) about your options and how best to proceed. See the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid and Working with a Lawyer for more information about your legal options.

If there was a domestic contract (cohabitation agreement)

A cohabitation agreement is a contract created by two people who are living together, or are about to start living together. In this agreement the couple can address many issues. For example, it can include partner support and what the property rights of both partners will be if they separate.

In general, if you and your partner have a cohabitation agreement and you separate, you must follow the terms of that contract to settle the legal issues that come up. In other words, usually you must obey the contract.

However, that is not always the case. For example, the agreement may be challenged if:

  • You or your partner provides a legal reason that the agreement should be cancelled or “set aside.” For example, if you can prove that one of you did not understand the contract because of something that was going on when the agreement was made. Or, if one of you did not provide full financial disclosure to the other.
  • One or more parts of the agreement are not enforceable. For example, you may have included an agreement that no child support would be paid. This is not allowed. It should not have been agreed to, and it will not be honoured. This is because child support is the right of the child.

Also, you would still have to deal with any legal issues that were not covered in the agreement.

For more information about how cohabitation agreements are treated and the law around setting them aside, see the Relationship Breakdown if You Had a Domestic Contract Information Page.

The Parenting After Separation (PAS) course

Parenting After Separation (PAS) is a free course that is offered through Alberta Courts both in-person and online. PAS teaches parents about:

  • the separation process;
  • the effects of separation on children;
  • techniques for communication;
  • legal information that affects parents and children; and
  • how to work together to meet children’s health, social, educational, and emotional needs.

PAS is offered online throughout Alberta and in-person in some areas of Alberta.

Family Violence

If you attend PAS in person, you do not have to attend with your former partner, and there are safety precautions in place for families experiencing domestic violence. You may also attend PAS online.

PAS is offered in every region of Alberta, but the rules about whether you must take it are different depending on which court you are going to:

Queen's Bench

If you end up going to court for child-related issues through the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, the PAS course will be mandatory. This means you must take it. You will have to prove that you have taken the course before you can make your application (although there are exceptions: ask court staff).

Provincial Court

If you end up going to court for child-related issues through Alberta Provincial Court, the PAS course will not be mandatory. You do not have to take it. However, a Provincial Court judge can order you to take the course if he or she believes it is in the best interests of the child.

Given that you may be required to take the course, and the course provides very helpful information on parenting, you may wish to take the course as soon as you can. It cannot hurt to take it.


For more information, see the following resources.

Web Parenting After Separation (PAS) course
Government of Alberta
English

Web Children and Divorce FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See the first 2 questions.


PDF Parenting After Separation (PAS) Parent's Guide
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Le rôle des parents après la dissolution/séparation de la famille (PAS)
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Alberta
French

For high-conflict separations, there is also the option of taking an additional 3-hour course, Parenting After Separation for High-Conflict Families (which is also free). However, that course is only offered in Edmonton and Calgary, and is not available online. See the following resources for more information.

For more information, see the following resources.


What exactly is child support and why do we have it?

Child support is money paid by a parent toward the living expenses (also called the “necessaries of life”) of his or her child. People other than parents can also be required to pay child support, including guardians and step-parents.

Child support is a requirement in both:

  • the federal Divorce Act (which deals with divorce issues all across Canada); and
  • the Alberta Family Law Act (which deals with family breakdown in Alberta, and was intended specifically to deal with family breakdown for non-married persons, as the Divorce Act does not apply to them).

The concept of “necessaries of life” is also included in the Criminal Code of Canada, where the failure to provide the “necessaries of life” can be a crime.

For more basic information about child support, see the following resources.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 1:00.

Web Child Support
Justice Education Society
English

Web Pension alimentaire pour enfants
Justice Education Society
French

Web Fact Sheet - Child Support
Government of Canada
English

The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines: What are they and what are the differences?

When resolving issues of child support, you will have to use either the Federal Child Support Guidelines or the Alberta Child Support Guidelines.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines (also called the Federal Guidelines or the FCSGs), along with the Federal Child Support Tables, are a set of rules and tables for calculating the amount of support that a paying parent should contribute toward his or her children after separation or divorce. The Federal Child Support Guidelines are part of the Divorce Act. As a result, they only apply to parents who were married and are solving their child support issues using the Divorce Act.

The Alberta Child Support Guidelines (also called the Alberta Guidelines or the ACSGs) are also a set of rules for calculating the amount of child support. They were created as part of the Family Law Act, to help children who need support and whose parents were not married. They are used in cases where the Divorce Act does not apply. In other words, the Alberta Child Support Guidelines apply to:

  • all non-married parents; and
  • married parents who choose to resolve their child support issues using the Family Law Act instead of the Divorce Act.

The Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines are very similar, but have some significant differences related to:

  • when child support ends;
  • people who “stood in the place of a parent” (such as step-parents);
  • special expenses; and
  • the requirements for financial disclosure between the parents.

These differences are described in more detail just below


Be Aware

Some of the resources on this Information Page might talk about the 2 different Guidelines as if they are the same. When learning about child support, you must keep in mind which set of Guidelines applies to you.

Difference #1: When child support ends

Federal Child Support Guidelines

  • Child support must be paid for as long as the child is under the age of majority (in Alberta that is 18).
  • Child support can continue past the age of majority if the child is dependent on his or her parents because of illness, disability, or “other cause.”
  • “Other cause” generally means that child support is payable up until a child has finished their first post-secondary degree or diploma.
  • There is no age limit mentioned for when child support must end.

Alberta Child Support Guidelines

  • Child support must be paid for as long as the child is under the age of majority (in Alberta that is 18).
  • Child support can continue for a child between the ages of 18 and 22 if that child is a full-time student and therefore is dependent on his or her parents (this is also called “being in the parents’ charge”).
  • The ACSGs say nothing about disability or illness.
  • Child support ends completely once the child turns 22.

Difference #2: “Standing in the place of a parent” (also called in loco parentis)

Federal Child Support Guidelines

A judge can decide that a spouse, who is not a parent, has “stood in the place of parent” and can order that person to pay child support. However, exactly how and when a spouse is “standing in place of a parent” is not very clearly defined. It has mostly been up to the individual judges hearing the cases.

Alberta Child Support Guidelines

There are clear rules about when a person stands in the place of a parent and becomes responsible for paying child support. The Family Law Act defines in detail the factors that should be considered when deciding if a person has treated a child as their own child—see the “Who is responsible for paying child support?” section below for more information.

Difference #3: “Special expenses”

Federal Child Support Guidelines

  • Only parents (or those who have “stood in the place of a parent”) are responsible for a child's "special expenses" (also called "Section 7 expenses"). This means that only these people can ask a court to require the other parent(s) pay toward the child's special expenses. For more information on what special expenses are, see the “How is child support calculated?” section below.
  • The types of expenses considered “special expenses” are more limited than the ACSGs.
  • To apply for “special expenses,” you must know the exact amount of money you will need.

Alberta Child Support Guidelines

  • Anyone who has a child in their care and is eligible to apply for child support can also apply to have other parents (or those who have “stood in the place of a parent”) contribute toward a child’s special expenses. For example, a grandmother who is caring for a child can ask for the child's parents to help her pay for the daycare she uses when she has to go to work.
  • More types of expenses are considered “special expenses” than those listed in the FCSGs.
  • The amount needed for “special expenses” can be estimated—you do not need to know the exact cost of the expenses to apply for them.

Difference #4: Continued disclosure of financial information

Federal Child Support Guidelines

  • A spouse (or former spouse) may make a written request to the other spouse (or former spouse) for financial disclosure once per year.

Alberta Child Support Guidelines

  • Anyone who is named on a child support order can ask someone else named on the child support order for his or her income information once per year.

If you are married, these differences may be a factor in deciding whether you want to use the Divorce Act to resolve your child support issues, or whether you want to use the Alberta Family Law Act. The choice of which law to use is extremely important. If you are not sure which law you want to use, see the Ending a Married Relationship Information Page, which explains what to consider when choosing.

In almost all cases, it is mandatory to use one of the sets of child support guidelines. There are very few times when a court can depart from the guidelines—for more information, see the “How is child support calculated?” section below.

Who is responsible for paying child support?

As non-married parents, you must use the Alberta Child Support Guidelines when resolving child support issues.

Under the Alberta Guidelines (which are part of Alberta’s Family Law Act), there are various people who can be considered “parents” for child support purposes, and may therefore have to pay child support.

These include:

Whether you will have to pay child support, as well as how much you must pay, will depend on your exact circumstances.

Biological and adoptive parents

Canadian law generally assumes that both parents (biological or adoptive) have a legal responsibility to provide for their children.

To be an adoptive parent, you must have gone through a formal adoption process. It is not enough simply to live with the other parent.

Sometimes, a father may not be certain whether he is the biological parent. If you are unsure if you are the biological parent of the child, see the following resources to learn how parentage is determined.

PDF Families and the Law: Young Parents
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 10.

Web Child & Spousal Support
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
See "Who is a Parent?"

PDF Alberta's Family Law Act: An Overview
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 5.

PDF Parenting: Legal Rights & Responsibilities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English
See p. 11.

Audio/Web Paternity Rights
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Guardianship, Parenting, Custody, and Access
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start at “Who Is a Parent?”
Be Aware

Sometimes people want or need a court order declaring parentage. For example, they may want to add or change information on a birth certificate. Getting a “Declaration of Parentage” is a specific application process that can only be done in the Court of Queen’s Bench. However, for the purposes of ordering child support, a Court (either Queen’s Bench or Provincial Court) does not require a Declaration of Parentage. In other words, if child support is the only child-related issue the Court is dealing with, the Court can hear the application for child support, order a DNA test, decide whether a person is the parent of the child, and award child support if needed. For more information, see the Process tab of this Information Page. For more detailed information about applying for a formal Declaration of Parentage, see the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page.

Sometimes, when couples are separating, there are religious issues that they wish to take into consideration.Religious rules and laws, like all foreign law, are not recognized or applied in Canadian law. The following resource points out key differences between Canadian family law and traditional Muslim approaches to child custody and child support. Although the focus is mainly on married couples who are separating, the principles are similar and seeing the comparison may be helpful.

PDF Custody and Child Support: Muslim & Canadian Family Laws
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.
Be Aware

Parents sometimes believe that if they do not see the child they do not have to pay child support. This is not so. Child support and parenting time are separate issues: they are not linked. Courts have made it very clear that it is wrong for a parent/guardian to refuse to pay child support just because he or she is not able to see the child.

People who “stand in the place of a parent” (also called “in loco parentis”)

Separating partners sometimes believe that if they were not the biological or adoptive parents of a child, they will never have any rights or obligations with respect to that child.

This is not necessarily true.

In Alberta, you may be responsible for child support even if you are not a biological or adoptive parent. Under the Family Law Act, if you “stood in the place of a parent” (such as step-parents might), you may find yourself with the same rights and responsibilities as a biological or adoptive parent.

There are several reasons why the law has taken this approach:

  • the law wants to ensure that a separation will affect the children as little as possible;
  • people are entitled to separate from each other, but not the children who were part of the relationship (and the financial responsibility towards those children); and
  • this is what serves children best. Children should be able to expect that a parent-like relationship should continue, and not end simply because of a separation.

As a result, if someone “stood in the place of a parent” during the relationship, he or she cannot just turn away from that because he or she does not want the responsibilities that come with it. If there was a “parent-like” relationship, the law believes that the parent-like relationship generally should continue even when the parents’ relationship breaks down.

This means that many separating couples find themselves having to figure out whether or not one of the partners “stood in the place of a parent.” A couple can agree on the issue of who is a “parent” for the purposes of child support, and because they agree, they can set up their child support arrangements on their own. However, couples sometimes don’t agree, and as a result, a person can find himself or herself in court trying to prove to the Court that their former partner is (or is not) responsible for paying child support.

If it is shown that a person did “stand in the place of a parent,” that person can have the rights (such as parenting time) and obligations (such as child support) toward the child. However, it will not always be found that in every adult-child relationship the adult stood in the place of a parent. Every case must be determined on its own facts and it must be proven that the adult acted in such a way that he or she stood in the place of a parent to the child.

See the following resources to see what the Court considers when deciding if someone stood in the place of a parent.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 12.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 2:30.

Web Child Support – Different Parenting Situations FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 20.

Web A Brief Primer on Child Support: Part One
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Who has to pay support?”


Web Separation and Divorce: Child Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Webinar Child Support: Dealing with a Difficult Ex-partner
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta.Learn more here. Start at 9:20.

Web Who is a Parent? Not a Simple Question!
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Step-parents and support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 29.

Video Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video In Loco Parentis: The Law Surrounding Parenting and Child Support in Alberta
Balbi and Company Legal Centre
English
This is a private source.Learn more here.

Video Ontario Child Custody: Who is Considered a Parent? – video
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web If a Biological Parent is Paying Child Support, Does a Step-Parent Still Have to Pay?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

The following resources are not available online. The links below will give you a preview of each article, and you can find the full articles at libraries across Alberta. Please note that these articles are sections in whole books. For more information about using the libraries listed below, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

Book Child Support, Step-parents and in loco parentis: What's love got to do with it? (article included in "42nd Annual Refresher Course, Family Law")
Legal Education Society of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. Get the full article from a library: Alberta Law Libraries / The Alberta Library.

Which children are eligible for child support?

Under the Alberta Guidelines, children who are under 18 are eligible for child support from anyone found to be their “parent” (see the “Who is responsible for paying child support?” section above).

If a child is over 18 but under 22 years old, he or she is still eligible for child support if he or she is a full-time student and still in the care (also called “charge”) of the parents. Child support ends completely once a child turns 22.

In addition, a child is no longer eligible for child support if he or she marries, becomes someone else’s Adult Interdependent Partner, or lives on his or her own without either parent’s financial support.

For more detailed information, see the following resources.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 7.

Audio/Web Child and Spousal Support
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Divorce and Retirement
Moe Hannah LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.
Who can apply for child support?

Under the Alberta Family Law Act:

  • a parent or guardian can ask a parent to pay support;
  • a person who has “care and control” of the child can ask a parent to pay support; and
  • the child himself or herself can ask a parent to pay support.

For more detailed information, see the following resources.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 5.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 2.10

Web A Brief Primer on Child Support: Part One
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Who can ask for support?”

Audio/Web Child and Spousal Support
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Video When Can A Parent Apply For Child Support‬ – video
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
How is child support calculated?

Starting point: The Guidelines are almost always mandatory

If you are going to court for child support under the Alberta Family Law Act, both you and the judge must use the Alberta Child Support Guidelines. This is to make sure that reasonable arrangements have been made for the financial support of the children. See the following resources for more information.

PDF Family Law in Alberta: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p.12.

Video When do the child support guidelines apply?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This is a private source.Learn more here.

Presentation Pension alimentaire pour enfants
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario
French
This resource is from outside alberta. Learn more here.

There are only 2 very rare situations when a court can depart from the Guidelines:

  • Special provision: unusual circumstances. For example: in a case where there are multiple parents and step-parents all providing some support or if a judge thinks that following the guidelines in a particular situation would lead to the children receiving less support than they need. Some of the resources below give further examples. In addition, you can find examples in case law—for more information on researching case law, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.
  • Consent: everyone who is required to pay child support must agree on the amount of support each person will pay, and the judge must be satisfied that reasonable support will be paid. To assess if the amounts are reasonable, the judge will still consider what the Guidelines suggest. In other words, parents cannot simply “consent” to not pay child support, or to pay only a small amount of child support. If the judge does not think that a child will receive proper support under the parents’ agreement, he or she can ignore the agreement and still apply the Guidelines.

Calculation

As required by the Guidelines, the calculation of child support has 3 steps:

  1. figure out the “basic amount” using the tables
  2. figure out any “additional expenses” (these are also called “section 7 expenses”)
  3. look at whether there is a claim for “undue hardship

Step 1: The “Basic Amount”

This part of the calculation is completed by looking at various factors, including:

  • How many children are eligible for support?
  • What is the parenting arrangement for these children? The amount of time that each child spends with each parent is the key factor. For example: if all of the children spend 50% of their time with each parent, the parents may technically pay child support to each other. For more information about such situations, see the section called “Shared parenting” below.
  • Where does the payor and the recipient live? Each province has its own set of provincial guidelines—you must use the guidelines for the province where the payor lives at the time the child support application is made. If the payor lives outside Canada, and the recipient is in Alberta, you would use the chart for Alberta.
  • What is the income of the payor and the income of the recipient? For the purposes of child support, “income” is calculated differently than it it is for other purposes, such as income tax. To clear up confusion, the correct term for calculating child support income is “guideline income.” For more information on how to figure out “guideline income,” see the section called “Guideline income” below.
  • Are any adjustments necessary? See the section called “Adjustments” below for more information.

Shared parenting and the myth of the “40% rule”

“Shared parenting” is when the child spends at least 40% of his or her time with a parent who pays child support. This living arrangement may result in each parent paying support to the other. For example: Dad owes Mom $600 per month for child support, while Mom owes Dad $400 per month. In practice, Dad writes Mom a cheque for $200 every month. This is often called a “set-off calculation.”

This has led to a myth that if a parent has the child for at least 40% of the time, he or she will pay less child support, or no child support. Sometimes, you may see this myth called the “40% rule.”

To be clear:

  • there is no set “rule”;
  • a payor having “care and control” of a child for at least 40% of the child’s time only means that child support may be calculated differently than in other circumstances: it does not automatically mean that the more time that is spent with the child, the less support will be paid;
  • a set-off calculation is only one way of dealing with child support and it is not automatic; and
  • in all cases, a court will make a decision based on what it thinks is in the best interests of the child.

For more information about child support in shared parenting, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 13.

Webinar Child Support: Dealing with a Difficult Ex-partner
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.Start at 53:30.

Web If we have shared custody, does anyone have to pay child support?
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Child Support and Shared Residency of the Child
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Guideline income

In many cases, figuring out the guideline income begins with Line 150 of a parent’s tax return—Line 150 is the parent’s gross income for the year. See the following resource for a full list of what can be deducted from the gross income.

Web Schedule III (Section 16): Adjustments to Income
Government of Canada
English

This works well if the parent’s income comes from regular employment (in other words, if they have a job where an employer pays them). However, this would not be fair in cases where the parent is self-employed, as people who are self-employed have all kinds of deductions that change the amount in Line 150 but do not accurately reflect the actual amount of money available for the children. For example: a person who is self-employed can deduct a portion of the utility bills, car payments, and household expenses. A parent who is “regularly employed” does not have this option. As a result, figuring out the guideline income of a parent who is self-employed is more complicated. For more information, see the following resources.

Web Self-Reporting Your Income: How to Go Wrong
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Financial Disclosure to the Ex: Do I Have to Report All Self-Employment Income?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video The Potential Child Support Pitfalls When Dealing with a Parent or Spouse who is Self-Employed or Operates a Corporation
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

There are also other situations in which using Line 150 of the last year’s tax return would not be a good way of figuring out guideline income. For example: if the parent recently lost his or her job, or if the parent had a large change in income that will continue into the future. In such cases, it might be better to estimate the coming year’s income based on recent pay stubs.

Another factor that can affect guideline income is any additional money given to salaried employees. Sometimes they are added in, sometimes they are not: in many cases it depends on the evidence given as to how they are used. Examples include: living allowances and danger pay.

This is also true of tax benefits: sometimes they are included in certain guideline calculations, sometimes they are not.

In all cases, a court has the power to determine what the correct guideline should be, in whatever way it sees fit.

A court can even “impute” income to a parent—this means that the court can assign an amount of income to a person. This most commonly happens when:

  • the payor parent is unemployed (or underemployed) on purpose, and the court thinks that he or she could earn more;
  • the payor parent is receiving income that is not properly documented—for example, receiving cash payment for work and not reporting it for taxes (this is often called “working under the table”);
  • the payor parent has not provided financial information;
  • the payor parent is not using a rental property as he or she should; or
  • the payor parent lives in a country with much lower tax rates.

A particular kind of imputing income is called “grossing up.” The Guidelines are based on the assumption that the payor pays income tax. However, not all kinds of income are taxed in the same way. As a result, the standard calculations would not be correct. If this is the case, the guideline income has to be recalculated so that it is comparable to a person's income who does pay taxes.

For example: an Aboriginal person earns $40,000 per year and pays no taxes. $40,000 is not the correct guideline income. To calculate the correct guideline income, you must figure out what a taxpaying payor would have to earn pre-taxes (“gross”), in order to have $40,000 left after taxes (“net”). Let’s assume that a taxpaying payor would have to earn $50,000 gross, in order to have $40,000 net—then the correct guideline amount would be $50,000.

Examples of situations when an income might have to be grossed up include: if a person’s income is from the Workers' Compensation Board or Social Assistance, or if the payor is a Status Indian working on reserve. This is a complicated calculation that must take into account many factors—you may want to ask for help from an accountant or someone who has legal training in this area.

For more information about imputing income, see the following resources.

Web What is imputing income?
Luke's Place
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Webinar Child Support: Dealing with a Difficult Ex-partner
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Start at 104:20.

This is a private source. Learn more here.
Video Imputation of Income When Parent or Spouse is Intentionally Unemployed or Underemployed
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Worried About Having Your Income Grossed-Up for Support Purposes? Here’s Some Court-Inspired Insight
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Adjustments

Sometimes adjustments might need to be made to the “basic amount.” This most commonly happens when:

  • there is “undue hardship” (see the “Undue hardship” section below for more information about that);
  • the children are over 18 (especially if they have some income of their own); or
  • the payor parent has an income of over $150,000 per year.

More information

For more information on calculating the base amount, see the following resources.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 3:30.

Web Child Support Guidelines FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 5.

Web The Calculation of Child Support: A Basic Guideline
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Webinar Child Support: Dealing with a Difficult Ex-partner
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Start at 43:40.

Web Separation and Divorce: Child Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Child Support Guidelines
Clicklaw
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video The Fundamentals of Child Support
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Family Law Access
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here. Start at 20:10.

PDF 2011 Simplified Tables in PDF Format
Government of Canada
English

Interactive Child Support Table Look-up
Government of Canada
English

Web What financial documents are needed to calculate support payments?
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Back to School: Who Pays for What?
Connect Family Law
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support
Family Law Nova Scotia
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web The Finer Points on Court-Ordered Interim Support
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here. Note that this resource discusses interim (temporary) support orders.

Presentation Pension alimentaire pour enfants
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

For information for parents with high income, see the following resources.

Web High income earners - Child support and incomes over $150,000
RCMV Family Lawyers
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Child Support When Income Over $150k
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Support in high asset divorce based on all income sources
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

The following resources are not available online. The links below will give you a preview of each article, and you can find the full articles at libraries across Alberta. Please note that these articles are sections in whole books. For more information about using the libraries listed below, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

Book Discretion: Friend or Foe? (article included in "42nd Annual Refresher, Family Law")
Legal Education Society of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. Get the full article from a library: Alberta Law Libraries / The Alberta Library.

Book Determining Income (article included in "Child Support Fundamentals")
Legal Education Society of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. Get the full article from a library: Alberta Law Libraries / The Alberta Library.

Step 2: Additional expenses (“Section 7 expenses”)

The amount of child support to be paid is the basic amount, plus a share of the “section 7 expenses.” Section 7 expenses are for things not included in the basic amount.

The basic amount is meant to cover things that every child needs. For example: food, clothing, and shelter. Section 7 expenses are things that, while not necessarily rare, are not basic things required by every child in all cases. For example: daycare and soccer.

Either parent, or anyone who has a child in their care, can ask for section 7 expenses. These expenses are often shared between the parents/guardians based on their income. For example: if two parents make the same amount of money, they will each pay half of the section 7 expenses. If one parent makes more money than the other, the parent with a higher income will pay more toward the section 7 expenses.

To ask a parent/guardian to help pay for these additional expenses, the other parent/guardian must generally show evidence that the cost has already been paid, is soon to be paid, or is paid regularly. Although, under the Alberta Guidelines, a court can consider requests based on estimates, this is not that common.

Section 7 expenses do not have to be allowed by a court. A parent can ask that the other parent contribute, but a judge may not agree. The court will consider whether the expense is really necessary based on the child’s best interests and how reasonable the expense is in relation to the parents’ incomes, the needs of the child, and the family’s spending habits before the separation. When deciding whether an expense is reasonable, the court will often look at whether the payor was involved in the decision in advance (it is more “reasonable” to ask first, instead of just creating the expense without the other parent even knowing about it).

Section 7 expenses are also limited. The guidelines provide a clear and fixed list, and the expenses must fit into the categories given. To see the exact wording of section 7, see the Alberta Child Support Guidelines:

PDF Alberta Child Support Guidelines
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 5.

The range of section 7 expenses is larger under the Alberta Child Support Guidelines than under the Federal Child Support Guidelines. For example, under the Alberta Guidelines, some prenatal expenses have been approved as section 7 expenses. This has not happened under the Federal Guidelines. To see the kinds of expenses that have been allowed, or not allowed, you can research case law. For more information on researching case law, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

Section 7 expenses have two different categories: “ordinary” and “extraordinary.”

  • Ordinary expenses are the more “usual” kind of expenses. In other words, they happen in many cases. Examples include: day care costs, health insurance premiums, prescription medications, and glasses.
  • Extraordinary expenses are educational and extracurricular expenses. Examples include: tuition at a special school for talented hockey players, and expenses related to the child’s special needs. Up to a certain value, these expenses are included in the base table amount (for example: standard school “fees”). The expense becomes “extraordinary” if the cost is necessary for the child’s best interests and reasonable given the total amount of the parents’ income, but otherwise outside of the ability of the requesting parent to pay for on his or her own (with his or her own income plus the base amount of child support).

Some schools or recreational organizations offer families reduced fees when parents complete some kind of volunteer work (for example: bingos). Courts have found that this volunteer work has a value, and that that value needs to be considered in the calculation of section 7 expenses. When only one parent contributes volunteer time, only that parent gets the financial benefit: the share paid by the other parent is calculated based on what the cost would have been without the volunteer work.

For children who are between the ages of 18 and 22, still in the charge of the parent, and enrolled in school, the costs involved with going to school may be considered section 7 expenses. However, the child’s ability to contribute through scholarships, loans, and part-time work will also be considered.

For more information about section 7 expenses, see the following resources. Be sure to look at the resources listed in the “Basic Amount” section above as well.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 11.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 11:40.

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 10 and p. 21-22.

Audio/Web Child Support Guidelines
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web A Brief Primer on Child Support: Part Two
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Spousal and Child Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Federal Child Support Guidelines.”

Web Back to School: Who Pays for What?
Connect Family Law
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web What special or extraordinary expenses may be covered by support?
Peterson Stark Scott
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support
Family Law Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Frequently Asked Questions about Special Expenses
Family Law Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


Web Can a Parent Replace Child Support … with Gifts?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Presentation Pension alimentaire pour enfants
Association des juristes d'expression française de l'Ontario
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

For information in video and other formats, see the following resources.

Video Child Support: Distinguishing Between the Table Amount & Section 7 Expenses
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Webinar Child Support: Dealing with a Difficult Ex-partner
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Start at 50:00.

Video Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Some Section 7 Hassles – Sometimes It’s Just Not Worth It
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Step 3: Undue hardship

Undue hardship is not a required part of the child support calculation; it is just something that either parent can claim.

The term “undue hardship” is used when paying the regular amount of child support (as properly calculated in the first two steps), would cause too much difficulty for the payor given his or her financial situation. The difficulty must be severe: it is quite rare for courts to find that there is a hardship bad enough that it should affect the child’s right to support.

The Guidelines set out the kinds of things that might amount to “undue hardship”:

  • the payor has a high level of debt and that debt is a result of costs used to support the family before the separation;
  • the payor has unusually high expenses required in order to engage in parenting time;
  • the payor has a large debt from a legal judgment;
  • the payor has to support other children who are not children from this relationship; or
  • the payor has a legal duty to support someone else who is ill or disabled.

There could be other reasons that are not on this list—it is up to the court to decide.

In addition to showing evidence to prove the undue hardship claim, the payor parent must also show that the standard of living in his or her home is lower than the standard of living in the home of the recipient. In other words, the court will look at the total expenses and total income of each parent's household (this includes the income of each parent's new partner).

For more information about undue hardship, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 4 and p. 16-18.

Audio/Web Child Support Guidelines
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 12.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 13:00.

Web Child Support Guidelines FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Obligations to Pay Child Support Even with Undue Hardship
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support
Family Law Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Future “financial disclosure”

Over time, things change. As a result, child support will have to be recalculated on a regular basis.

To make this possible, the Guidelines require that parents give their financial information to each other every year. This is often written in the court order, just to make it absolutely clear.

For more information about exactly what financial information must be provided, see the following resources.

Video The Fundamentals of Child Support
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Common Questions About Child Support in Ontario
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Updating Child Support Payments: What To Do
Kahane Law Office (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Annual Income Disclosure
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Disclosure of Income and Child Support: It’s an Annual Thing
Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
Tax issues about child support

When dealing with child support issues, tax issues can often come up.

Some of the most important tax-related information to keep in mind includes:

  • the Canada Child Benefit, and whether or how it should be considered when calculating child support;
  • when doing your income taxes, child support is not added to the recipient’s income, and it is not subtracted from the payor’s income; and
  • the cost of going to court to get or enforce a support order, including an order for the payment of arrears, is tax deductible for the person receiving support. This is true of both partner support and child support. However, the cost of defending a claim for support or for the payment of arrears of support is not deductible for the payor.

For further information about tax issues and how they are affected by parenting plans and living arrangements, see the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page.

For even more information, see the following resources.

Web Child Support Guidelines FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Support Payments
Government of Canada
English

Web What amount can I claim or report?
Government of Canada
English

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 7.


Web Separation and Divorce: Child Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Are Alberta support payments tax deductible?
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video How are child payments taxed?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Two necessary evils – know your obligations re: income tax and spousal / child support
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Income Tax Implications of Support Payments
Canadian Bar Association - British Columbia Branch
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Tax Matters Toolkit: Separation & Divorce
Canadian Bar Association
English

Web Accounting and legal fees
Government of Canada
English

Web What the New Canada Child Benefits Will Mean for Divorced Parents
Fine & Associates Professional Corporation
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web New Canada Child Benefit - Potential Impact on Support Payments?
Peterson Stark Scott
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

French resources:

Web Pension alimentaire
Government of Canada
French

Web Quel montant puis-je demander ou déclarer?
Government of Canada
French



Web Frais juridiques et comptables
Government of Canada
French
Child support after the payor dies (including using life insurance as security)

In general, any ongoing child support payments end if the payor dies, unless an agreement or court order says that the payments are to continue after death—this is called having child support payments “binding on the estate of the payor.”

Many agreements and court orders do say that child support payments are binding on the estate of the payor. Even if they don’t mention being binding, there are exceptions to the general rules, and an estate may end up owing child support nonetheless. In addition, although ongoing payments may end, arrears are binding on the estate.

As a result, a payor’s estate may owe child support. However, sometimes the estate does not have enough money to pay the child support that is owing (which may be arrears, ongoing payments, or both). The recipient may even suspect or know that this is likely to happen. If that is the case, the parties can arrange to have life insurance set up to make sure that child support payments and arrears will be taken care of if the payor dies.

For example:

  • One partner (Alex) has life insurance that says that his or her partner (Terry) will get $300,000 if Alex dies.
  • Alex is terrible with money, often has trouble paying bills on time, and has serious health issues.
  • Alex and Terry, who have 2 children, decide to separate.
  • When they separate, Alex wants to cancel the life insurance.
  • Alex has to pay Terry child support.
  • Terry is concerned that Alex will not pay child support on time (resulting in child support arrears).
  • Terry and Alex decide to keep the life insurance policy, with Terry to get the money in trust for the children if Alex dies.
  • As part of their agreement or court order, Alex and Terry will decide who will pay the premiums on the life insurance.

For more information, please see the following resources.

Web Life Insurance After Divorce
State Farm
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web The Impact of Divorce on Your Life Insurance
Western Direct Insurance
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Spousal (and Child) Support – Life Insurance
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Whose life insurance is it anyway?
Estate Law Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web The ex-spouse, child support and the insurance policy
Fiscal Agents
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Child support life insurance beneficiary claim against the estate? A few things to consider.
Canadian Bar Association
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Web Life Insurance: Protecting Support Obligations after Death
Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Life insurance and support obligations on marriage breakdown
Manulife Financial
English
This is a private source and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. Start on p. 4.
Aboriginal matters and on-reserve considerations

When it comes to paying child support, Aboriginal parents have some additional issues to learn about.

“Grossing-up” income for calculating child support amounts

The Guidelines are based on the assumption that the payor pays income tax. However, Aboriginal people who are “status Indians” under the Indian Act and who work on-reserve may not be required to pay income tax. As a result, the standard calculations would not be correct.

If this is the case, the guideline income has to be re calculated so that it is comparable to a person's income who does pay taxes.

For example: an Aboriginal person earns $40,000 per year and pays no taxes. $40,000 is not the correct guideline income. To calculate the correct guideline income, you must figure out what a taxpaying payor would have to earn pre-taxes (“gross”), in order to have $40,000 left after taxes (“net”). Let’s assume that a taxpaying payor would have to earn $50,000 gross, in order to have $40,000 net—then the correct guideline amount would be $50,000.

This is a complicated calculation that must take into account many factors; you may want to ask for help from an accountant or someone who has legal training in this area. For more information, see the following resources.

PDF Your Rights on Reserve: A Legal Tool-kit for Aboriginal Women in BC
Atira Women's Resource Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta.Learn more here.See p. 56-57.

PDF Parenting: Legal Rights & Responsibilities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English
See p. 16-17.

Web Child Support Guidelines
Clicklaw
English
This resource is from outside Alberta.Learn more here. See “Imputing income.”

PDF Aboriginal persons in family law proceedings
Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.See p. 4-5.

Enforceability of support orders on-reserve

The Indian Act affects the enforcement of child and spousal support orders when the payor is a status Indian who lives on reserve.

  • If the recipient (the child) is not a status Indian, then the Indian Act limits the ability to enforce a support award, and the property or income on-reserve cannot be used to pay the support.
  • If both the payor and the recipient (the child) are status Indians, then the Indian Act does not limit the ability to enforce a support order, and on-reserve property or income can be used to pay the support.

For more general information, see the Family Breakdown if You Live on Reserve Information Page.

Blended family considerations

In Alberta, the law around child support in non-married relationships is no different for blended families than it is for any other families. Your child support issues will be guided by the same laws and approaches described above.

Depending on your exact situation, a topic that may be important to you is whether becoming part of a new blended family can lead to a change in a previous child support order. Specifically, an increase in household income due to a new partner can be considered in a claim of “undue hardship.” For more information, see the “How is child support calculated?” section above.

For more general information, see the following resource.

Web We Are Family: Legal Issues When There Are Children From Multiple Relationships
Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
LGBTQ considerations

Under Alberta’s Family Law Act, the law around child support is no different for LGBTQ families than it is for anyone else. Your child support issues will be guided by the same laws and approaches described above.

However, there may be some difficulties if you have transitioned, or are in the process of transitioning. Whenever you involve the law, you must identify yourself and you must always identify yourself in the same way. This can take some extra work.

For example, your relationship to the child may have developed while you were still using the name and/or gender assigned at birth. Now you are applying for child support using a different name and/or gender than that assigned at birth. You may have to take additional steps to show that you are the same person. You may need to prove that you qualify to make the application.

This is a very complex area: consider consulting a lawyer. For more information, see the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

Polyamorous relationships

Child support is the right of the child and is not based on the exact nature of any adult relationships. Therefore, if you stood in the place of a parent to a child or children during the polyamorous relationship, you may want to provide child support, or you may be required to provide child support. For more information about “standing in the place of a parent,” see the “Who is responsible for paying child support?” section above

For more information, see the following resource.

PDF Polyamorous Relationships and Family Law in Canada
Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here. See p. 37-38.

.

 

Concerns for immigrants and other non-citizens

One or more parties in the relationship may not be citizens or permanent residents of Canada because they are:

  • in the process of immigrating;
  • on a study permit or student work visa;
  • on a work permit; or
  • hired as a temporary foreign worker.

In these situations, family breakdown may be much more complex. This is especially true if one partner is being sponsored by the other for immigration, or if the relationship involves domestic violence. 

Although all of the general family law rules and processes still apply, immigration issues may play a huge role in deciding:

  • what to do when,
  • whether and when to involve a lawyer,
  • what you need to include in any agreement, and even
  • what you can ask for in court.

If any of the above applies to you, be sure to review the ​Family Breakdown and the Immigration Process Information Page and the following resource.

Web Marriage Breakdown
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Be Aware

Under an immigration policy from October 25, 2012 to April 17, 2017, some permanent residents had to continue living with their sponsor for 2 years to keep that legal status. During this 2-year time, they were called a “conditional” permanent resident. As of April 18, 2017, conditional permanent residency no longer applies. Anyone who had been considered a conditional permanent resident is no longer subject to the conditions. If you were being investigated for not following this rule after separating from your sponsor, the investigation will stop.

If one or both of the parents is involved in criminal proceedings

This is even more true if there is also domestic violence involved. Although all the general family law rules and processes still apply, the involvement of criminal issues may play a huge role in deciding:

  • whether and when to involve a lawyer;
  • visitation and support issues; and even
  • when and how to schedule court hearings.

If you are experiencing family breakdown and one or more of you is involved in criminal proceedings, be sure to review the Family Breakdown and Criminal Law Information Page.

Out of court resolution options

You do not have to go to court to solve your child support issues. It is possible to agree. Although court is an option, it is merely one option in a range of possibilities.

You can agree on your own or with the help of a “third party.” A third party is a person who is not directly involved with the legal issue, but is connected to it in some other way. For example, professionals who work with families to sort through legal problems.

However, it is important to understand that child support is the right of the child. Even though child support is generally paid to the parent, it is the child who has the right to child support. This right has been confirmed by the Alberta Guidelines. This means that a parent who has the majority of care and control of the child cannot bargain away child support, or accept an amount that is unreasonably low. The parent does not have the right to do so.

In other words, you can only agree on the annual income amount; you cannot contract out of the child support guidelines in their entirety. In addition, the agreement is subject to the review of the Court and may be denied.

Also, child support is separate from partner support and division of property. Again, child support is the right of the child. Partner support and division of property is about the partners. As a result, a parent who has the majority of care and control of the child cannot just “give up” child support in exchange for partner support or most of the property.

Coming to an agreement on your own

The first out-of-court option is to come to an agreement on your own. This is sometimes called the “do-it-yourself” or the “kitchen table” option. Although this can work for many people, it does not work for all. In certain situations, such as in many cases of domestic violence, it may not be at all appropriate. For more information, see the Coming to an Agreement on Your Own Information Page.

Mediation

If you need a bit of help to resolve your issues, you can always use a mediator. In mediation, the decisions are still made by the parties. But they reach those decisions with the help of an independent and trained third party. The mediator does not take sides and does not make the decisions for you. For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Arbitration

Arbitration also involves the help of an independent and trained third party. However, the third party is hired to make a decision. In other words, the arbitrator hears both sides, reviews documents and evidence, and comes up with a binding decision. For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Negotiating through lawyers  

“Negotiation” is a term used to describe any process where there is a “discussion” to resolve a disagreement or conflict. The goal of the discussion is to come to an agreement. This is different from simply “presenting sides” and having someone else make a decision for you. Coming to an agreement on your own and mediation are two forms of negotiation.

You can also negotiate though lawyers. In fact, many family law cases are solved in this way. The parties resolve their issues before ever getting in front of a judge by suggesting different solutions through their lawyers. Most lawyers will try to negotiate before they decide to take the case to court.

For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Family Law is another way of working together. It has 2 key features:

  • each party hires a lawyer; and
  • the parties and the lawyers agree to resolve all matters without going to court or threatening to go to court.

For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

More information

See the following resources for a good overview of all of the above non-court options.

PDF Families and the Law: Child Custody and Parenting
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 12.

Video Child Custody and Parenting
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 17:30.



PDF Aboriginal Parenting After Separation (Handbook)
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.Start on p. 48.
Before heading to court: Is an Alberta court the right court?

Sometimes it is very clear that an Alberta court is the correct court to be in. Below are two examples.

  1. Both parents/guardians and the children currently live in Alberta and have never lived anywhere else.
  2. Both parents/guardians and the children moved to Alberta from another province. They still live here. No court action has been started in any other province or country.

Sometimes the situation becomes more complicated. Below are two examples.

  1. A court action was started in another province or country, and then one or both parents/guardians moved to Alberta.
  2. One or both parents/guardians were living in Alberta, but have now left the province, or are planning to move away.

In these situations, the Alberta courts may not have the right to hear the matter. Or, the court may want to hear some of the details to decide if they can hear the matter.

If any of these situations apply to you, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

Resolving child support in court

Choosing a court

As described in the “Alberta’s two-court system” section above, you will have to choose between two courts: Provincial Court and Court of Queen’s Bench.

For detailed information on the differences between the 2 courts, see the following resources and the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

PDF The Canadian Legal System: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 1:50.

Be Aware

When you file court documents, there is often a fee that must be paid. Fees are usually higher in the Court of Queen’s Bench than in Provincial Court. For a current list of fees, and options if you can’t afford the fees, see the following resources.

Web Court fees
Government of Alberta
English

Web Waiving a filing fee
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Court Fees & Waivers in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Understanding the court system

Before going to court, you will want to learn more about how the court system works and what you can expect, such as:

  • procedures;
  • different kinds of hearings;
  • which documents you will need to provide; and
  • what to wear.

Educating yourself will be even more important if you are planning on representing yourself in court.

For more information on the court process see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page. If you are representing yourself, make sure you also look at the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page.

Representation in court

Once you get to court, you can;

  • represent yourself; or
  • be represented by a lawyer.

See the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page and the Working with a Lawyer Information Page for more information about these options.

Enforcing child support: The Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)

“Enforcing” an order means making sure that what the court ordered is actually done. When a judge makes an order, the parties are expected to do what the judge has decided. However, the ability to enforce an order is not automatically included in the court order. Instead, you will have to follow a process to make sure you can enforce it.

What is the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)?

To make sure that children are properly cared for, Alberta has a system to make sure that court orders are followed: the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). This program:

  • collects and delivers court-ordered child support and spousal/partner support; and
  • can take action to enforce those court orders.

How does MEP work?

All support orders are automatically filed with MEP. However, they are only enforced when one of the parties registers the order.

For example: You have a court order for child support. Your former partner must pay you $300 per month.

  • If you do not register your order with MEP, you will have to make your own arrangements for payment. For example, you may get a cheque mailed to you every month.
  • If you register your order with MEP, they will make arrangements for payment (such as having the money paid directly from the payor’s bank account). If payments are not made, MEP has the power to do something about it right away.

Who can register with MEP?

Eligibility to register with MEP depends on a few things. The information is described below based on where the recipient lives.

If the recipient lives in Alberta

If the recipient lives in Alberta, you are eligible to register with MEP if you have:

  • a court order for child or partner support; or
  • a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement (see the “Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements” heading just below).

If the recipient lives in another Canadian province or territory

If the recipient lives in another Canadian province or territory, you must register with the support enforcement program in that province or territory. That enforcement program will then collect, deliver, and enforce the support. See the following resource for a list of enforcement programs in Canada.


If the recipient lives outside of Canada

If the recipient lives outside of Canada, your enforcement options depend on where the parties live and whether the court order was granted in an area has a “reciprocity agreement” with the province of Alberta.

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. For a list of reciprocating jurisdictions, see the following resource.

Web Enforcement programs outside Alberta
Government of Alberta
English

If the recipient lives in a reciprocating jurisdiction, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page for your options for enforcement.

If the recipient lives in an area that is not a reciprocating jurisdiction (for example: Mexico), you can only register with MEP in Alberta if the payor lives in Alberta. If the payor does not live in Alberta, your situation is more complicated. You may want to get the advice of lawyer. For more information, see the Working with a Lawyer Information Page and the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page.

For more information about who is eligible to register with MEP, see the following resource.

Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Am I eligible?
Government of Alberta
English

For information about how to register with MEP, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

What happens after you register?

Once an order is registered with MEP, the payor will pay the support to the Director of Maintenance Enforcement, and the money is then directly deposited to the recipient.

In order to carry out collection and enforcement, MEP has very broad powers, including:

  • deducting the support payments directly from the payor’s wages (this is called a “garnishee”);
  • taking support amounts owing directly from bank accounts, mutual funds, rent, or contract fees;
  • taking support amounts owing directly from income tax refunds, GST rebates, Canada Pension Plan income, and Employment Insurance payments;
  • preventing the payor from selling any property;
  • suspending the payor’s driver’s licence, registration, or licence plates;
  • canceling the payor’s driver’s licence if payments are more than 60 days late;
  • taking away the payor’s passport; and
  • publicly identifying the payor as being in arrears (this is done on the MEP website).

See the following resources for more information about what MEP can do. There is even more information in the resources at the end of this section.

Web Child Support – The Maintenance Enforcement Program FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 16.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 15:10.

Arrears: What happens if a payor can’t make their payments?

Sometimes, there are unavoidable reasons why a payor might delay or miss payments. These missed payments are called “arrears.” If this happens, the payor can try to make a different payment arrangement with MEP.

If it is not possible to make a different arrangement with MEP, the payor can request a “Stay of Enforcement” from the Court. This “pauses” MEP’s enforcement actions for a short period of time. However, there are only certain things that a Stay of Enforcement can do. For example:

  • A Stay of Enforcement can stop or change the amount of a wage “garnishee.” This is when MEP takes money you owe directly from your paycheque.
  • A Stay of Enforcement can stop MEP from taking any further steps to enforce the support order.
  • A Stay of Enforcement cannot get you your driver’s licence back.
  • A Stay of Enforcement cannot stop federal enforcement steps that have already started (such as a garnishee of your Employment Insurance payments).
Be Aware

Before a court will grant a Stay of Enforcement, the payor must show that they tried to make a different payment arrangement with MEP, and an arrangement was not possible. To help with this, MEP will give payors a written explanation if a payment arrangement is not possible.

For more information about Stays of Enforcement, see the following resources.


Web Limit the collection of your support payments
Government of Alberta
English

Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
Government of Alberta
English
See “Stay of Enforcement on Arrears.”

For information about applying for a Stay of Enforcement, see the section called “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” on the Process tab of this Information Page.

Be Aware

If a payor is unable to pay child support arrears, he or she can ask the Court that the arrears be reduced or cancelled. This is not an easy argument to make, as the court system places a very high value on a child’s right to support. See the “Child support arrears” section below for more information.

Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements

Queen's Bench

 

Many people agree with each other on support and do not want to have to go to court just to get an order that can be registered with MEP. They would like to register their agreement instead. To register a support agreement with MEP, it must be in a specific format: the Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement (MESA).

To make a MESA, you must:

  • meet the eligibility requirements;
  • follow the instructions; and
  • file the proper paperwork in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

For more information about how to do this, see the following resources.


More information

For general information about enforcement of support in Canada, see the following resources.

Web Enforcing Support
Government of Canada
English

Web Exécution de pensions alimentaires
Government of Canada
French

Web Resolve Enforcement Issues
Government of Canada
English

For more information about MEP and how it can help enforce child support, see the following resources.

Web Child Support – The Maintenance Enforcement Program FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 16.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 15:10.

Audio/Web How to Enforce a Support Order
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Child & Spousal Support
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
See “Maintenance Enforcement Program.”


PDF Parenting After Separation (PAS) Parent's Guide
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 133-134.

PDF Parenting: Legal Rights & Responsibilities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English
See p. 17.

Web Maintenance Enforcement Program
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English

Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Am I eligible?
Government of Alberta
English

PDF MEP information sheets
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Maintenance for Adult Children Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English

Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Glossary
Government of Alberta
English

If you are an employer of people registered with MEP and you want information about that, see the following resources.


For information about how to register with MEP, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

Child Support Recalculation Program

Child support orders often have to change. There are many reasons for this: incomes change, needs change, costs change. If parents always had to go back to court to get the original child support order changed, it would be too expensive. To make this process easier, Alberta Justice offers the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP).

The RP is a service that recalculates child support (base amount and section 7 expenses) every year, based on the yearly income tax information the parties provide. However, not all court orders are eligible. Also, since the RP uses income tax information, the program is not appropriate for situations such as self-employment.

Be Aware

The Recalculation Program does not have authority to reduce or award arrears (unpaid support). This can only be done by a judge through an application to change (or “vary”) your order. Also, if your financial situation changes during the year (for example, if you lost your job or your income increased), RP cannot review your file before your annual recalculation date. If you want to review your file before your annual recalculation date you must apply to court.

For more information about the RP, see the following resources.

Web Child Support Recalculation Program
Government of Alberta
English

Child support arrears

Sometimes, the payor gets behind on his or her child support payments. When this occurs, the debt accumulates and the payor is still responsible to pay the amount owing. The debt of unpaid child support is called “arrears.”

There are times when a payor can ask a court to reduce or completely cancel his or her arrears. In addition, even if the arrears are not reduced or cancelled, the payor can ask that payment of those arrears be postponed or paid over a longer period of time.

Asking for any of these things is not very easy—since support is the right of the child, courts are very reluctant to do this. As a result, it is only possible in very specific circumstances. For more information, see the following resources.

If you want to ask for this, you will have to provide a lot of financial disclosure, including the following.

  • Your current income. To show this, you will need pay stubs. Tips, cash income, student grants, and student loans must also be included.
  • Your last 3 years of tax returns and Notices of Assessment or all T4s issued during that time.
  • If you are dealing with more than 3 years of arrears, your tax returns and Notices of Assessments for all of the years you wish to review.
  • If you have a business or self-employment income, your business financial statements and tax returns for all of the years you wish to review.

If you do not have this information, you can:

  • Contact the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRA will mail a copy of your past 7 years of Notices of Assessments at no charge; or
  • access your Notices of Assessments online from the CRA website. If you don’t have an online account with CRA, you will need to create one:
Web My Account for Individuals
Government of Canada
English

Web Mon dossier pour les particuliers
Government of Canada
French

You may also have to provide other kinds of information, including the following.

  • A current resume, including education, work history, and qualifications and certificates (with an explanation of periods of unemployment, incarceration, education, or welfare).
  • A copy of the Order or Agreement you want to change.   
  • Any current or recent court applications for changing child support or requesting a Stay of Enforcement.
  • A copy of your current MEP account, going back to the time of the Order that you wish to change or cancel.
  • Any recent mediation or dispute resolution officer reports regarding support.
  • Any recent Recalculation Program decisions.
  • Private records showing payments to the recipient, if there are any. For example: receipts, bank transfers, electronic payments, or money orders that are not recorded on your MEP statement.
  • A list of any Section 7 expenses you have now, or those that you paid during the time under review (including the amounts paid to the other parent or to the service provider).
  • A list of any medical or mental health conditions that affect your ability to work (including dates of illness, hospitalization, incapacity, etc.).
  • Any medical records relating to your ability to work, such as: an AISH application; doctor or psychologist reports; occupational assessment reports; and disability or WCB claim entitlements, awards, or reports.
  • A history of your job search efforts during periods of unemployment and/or details of any other special circumstances.

For more information, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 27.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 17.

PDF Statement of Finances: Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English


PDF Payment Arrangements for Arrears: Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English
Retroactive child support

Retroactive child support is sometimes called “back-dated” child support. Sometimes, a payor might be paying an incorrect amount of child support (and may have been doing so for quite some time). This can happen if:

  • the payor’s income had previously increased, and the existing order does not reflect that increase (this includes situations when the payor’s income has increased but the payor has refused to give updated financial disclosure);
  • there is an agreement between the parents, but it is not a reasonable amount of child support (according to the Guidelines); or
  • there is no child support order, and no child support is being paid, but it should have been paid (for example: if the parent applying has never applied to Court before).

You can only apply for retroactive child support if the child is still eligible for support at the time that you apply—for more information about that, see the “Which children are eligible for child support?” section above.

Be Aware

The general rule is that the Court will not go back more than 3 years when awarding retroactive child support. However, in some cases a Court will consider more than 3 years of retroactive support. If this is your situation, you may want to speak with a lawyer. See the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page and the Working with a Lawyer Information Page for more information.

For information about what is required to apply for retroactive child support, and what the Court will consider in making its decision, see the following resources. The considerations are the same under both the Federal Guidelines and the Alberta Guidelines.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p.14.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 13:50

Web Child Support – Retroactive Child Support FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Retroactive Child Support
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Separation and Divorce: Child Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Making Changes to Child Support
Clicklaw
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See section 5.2.2.

Web Back-Dating Child Support – A Kids’ “Bill of Rights”
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support
Family Law Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web How Blameworthy Conduct Can Affect Retroactive Child Support
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web To Get Retroactive Support, Does a Kid Have to be Eligible at Now … or Only Back Then?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.



Changing child support orders

Child support amounts often have to change. There are many reasons for this: incomes change, needs change, and costs changes. Although parents are free to use the Child Support Recalculation Program to change child support (see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section above), that is not always possible or appropriate.

If necessary, parents can go to court to change a child support order. In order to get a change in support, the person making the request must show that there has been a significant change in the circumstances since the previous order was granted.

Some changes that might be considered include:

  • a change in income;
  • a change in the amounts paid for special expenses; and
  • a change in where the child lives.
Be Aware

You may not be able to get a consent order to reduce or cancel support arrears, or even change ongoing support, if the recipient has ever been on income assistance.

For more information about asking for a change in a child support order, see the following resources.

Web Child Support – Changing a Child Support Order FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Audio/Web How to Change a Financial Support Order
Calgary Legal Guidance
English

Web Child & Spousal Support
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
See “Variation of Support Orders.”

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 25.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
Start on p. 15.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 14:40.


PDF Parenting: Legal Rights & Responsibilities
Native Counselling Services of Alberta
English
See p. 16.

Video Child Support Recalculation
Kahane Law Office (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Separation and Divorce: Child Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.
Ending child support

Under the Alberta Child Support Guidelines, child support can end when the child turns 18. However, if the child has to remain in his or her parent’s care because of illness, disability, or other causes (including being a full-time student), child support continues. In all cases, child support ends when the child turns 22.

For more information about ending child support, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Child Support
Government of Alberta
English
Start on p. 14 and p. 20.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 7.

Web Separation and Divorce: Child Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web New Random Answers to Random Search Terms
JP Boyd on Family Law
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Can adult children in Alberta receive child support?
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Adult Child is in School Because They Have “Nothing Better to Do” – Do They Still Get Child Support?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

The following resource is not available online. The link below will give you a preview of the article, and you can find the full article at libraries across Alberta. Please note that this article is a section in a whole book. For more information about using the libraries listed below, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

Book School is Not Out for the Summer – Post Secondary Studies? (article included in "Child Support Fundamentals")
Legal Education Society of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read.Learn more here. Get the full text from a library: Alberta Law Libraries / The Alberta Library.

If you are ending child support before a child turns 22 and you have registered your child support with MEP, you will need to specifically let MEP know. If you don’t, MEP will continue to collect payments until the child’s 22nd birthday. See the following resource for more information.

PDF Maintenance for Adult Children Information Sheet
Government of Alberta
English
Going to trial

Not all cases go to trial, but some do. Going to trial is very different than going to other kinds of court hearings. There are different rules and procedures. It is also much more time-consuming and much more expensive. For information about going to trial, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

Appealing an order

It is possible to appeal a court decision. To appeal a court order, you have to appeal to the next highest court:

  • If the court order was granted by the Provincial Court, you would appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
  • If the court order was granted by the Court of Queen’s Bench, you would appeal to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

However, you cannot appeal a decision simply because you are not happy with it. You can only appeal if you believe the judge has made an error of law or a substantial error in the facts. In addition, be aware that an appeal can only be made within 30 days of the order. For more information, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

Process

Please read “Who is this Information Page for?” just below to make sure you are on the right page.

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here.

Last Reviewed: March 2017
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page contains information about child support for parents whose relationship is breaking down.

Tip

If you are just starting out with this topic, it’s a good idea to begin on the Law tab of this Information Page. There you will find basic information about what the law says, what the words mean, and other issues that will help you understand better what to ask for and how to get it. Once you have the basics down, you will be in a better position to learn about the process you need to follow to resolve your legal issues.

This Information Page is mainly for parents who were not in a married relationship and whose relationship is breaking down.

  • The law that applies to parents who were not in a married relationship is the Alberta Family Law Act. This Information Page is all about the Family Law Act.

  • To be clear, if you were not married, Canada’s Divorce Act and Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act do not apply to you: both of these laws can only apply to people who were married.

This Information Page can also apply to married parents, depending on the choices they are making. This is because, for parenting and support issues, married parents have a choice which law they use when they separate: they can use Canada’s Divorce Act, or Alberta’s Family Law Act.

  • If you were married and you choose to deal with your child support issues using Canada’s Divorce Act, this is the wrong Information Page—see the Child Support under the Divorce Act Information Page instead.
  • If you were married and you choose to deal with your child support issues using Alberta’s Family Law Act, this is the correct Information Page.
  • The choice of which law to use is extremely important. If you are not sure which law you want to use, see the Ending a Married Relationship Information Page, which explains what to consider when choosing.

If you are not sure if you were married or not, see the Getting Married Information Page.

In general, the law on this Information Page is for families who live in Alberta. It may not be possible for your matter to be heard in Alberta if:

  • any of your issues will involve courts in another province (or have already);
  • any of the parties live in another province; or
  • any of the parties have been “ordinarily resident” outside of Alberta during the past year.

For more information about out-of-province issues, including how “ordinarily resident” is defined, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

You are currently on the Process tab of this Information Page, which has information on the process you need to follow to ask for what you want. For information on the law that governs your situation, click on the Law tab above. There is also important information in the Common Questions and Myths tabs above.

Alberta’s two-court system

Although you may wish to solve your issues by agreement (that is, without going to court), the situation may fall apart. You could find yourself having to deal with court, even though you thought you wouldn’t need to.

In some provinces, any “family law” matter goes to a specialized family court: everyone is in the same court. This is not the case in Alberta. In Alberta, under the Family Law Act, if you need to go to court, you have a choice between two courts: Provincial Court and Court of Queen’s Bench.

Each of the courts has different requirements, rules, forms, and services. In addition, there are certain things you can only request in one of the two courts. Therefore, depending on what your situation requires, the choice of court can be a critical factor. For example: if you need a “Declaration of Parentage” or an Order for “exclusive possession” of the family home, those can only be asked for in the Court of Queen’s Bench (QB). On the other hand, if you think you may need a lot of help taking your matter to court yourself, the Provincial Court of Alberta (PC) may be a better choice for you.

As a result, if you do decide to go to court, be sure to read about ALL of the topics that you need to address, before deciding which court is best for you.

Be Aware

Wherever possible, the Alberta courts prefer to keep all matters relating to one family within one level of court.

For detailed information on the differences between the 2 courts, see the following resources and the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

PDF The Canadian Legal System: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 1:50.

You will now be asked to make a choice.

  • If you choose Provincial Court, the PC processes will appear on this page for you to read.
  • If you choose the Court of Queen’s Bench, the QB processes will appear.

You can always go back and choose the other if you change your mind.

Remember, there are some things that you can ONLY get in QB. These include:

  • filing a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement
  • a Declaration of Parentage
  • exclusive possession of the home or other property
  • division of property issues
  • some protective orders

 

Go to the top of the Process tab and select Queen’s Bench or Provincial Court.

Provincial Court

Learn more about going to Provincial Court to deal with your child support matters under the Family Law Act. See the sections below for information about:

  • Options for staying out of court (including consent orders)
  • Hiring a lawyer or representing yourself
  • The paperwork you need to file with the Provincial Court
  • The basics about the court process and what to expect

LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here.

Out-of-court options

You do not have to go to court to solve your family law issues. It is possible to agree. Although court is an option, it is merely one option in a range of possibilities.

You can agree on your own or with the help of a “third party.” A third party is a person who is not directly involved with the legal issue, but is connected to it in some other way. For example, professionals who work with families to sort through legal problems.

Coming to an agreement on your own

The first out-of-court option is to come to an agreement on your own. This is sometimes called the “do-it-yourself” or the “kitchen table” option. Although this can work for many people, it does not work for all. In certain situations, such as in many cases of domestic violence, it may not be at all appropriate. For more information, see the Coming to an Agreement on Your Own Information Page.

To make an agreement about child support, you will need to understand the law around child support and how to use the Guidelines. You will need to understand how to figure out the correct Guideline amount. For detailed information, see the Law tab of this Information Page.

For more information about creating your own child support agreement, see the following resources.

PDF Parenting After Separation (PAS) Parent's Guide
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 48-49, 115-132.

PDF Instructions: Child Support Data Sheets
Government of Alberta
English

Web Child Support Agreements
Government of Canada
English

Web Ententes de pension alimentaire pour enfants
Government of Canada
French



PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
Government of Alberta
English



Web Child & Spousal Support
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English
Web Agreements and Child Support
Patriot Law Group
English

Mediation

If you need a bit of help to resolve your issues, you can always use a mediator. In mediation, the decisions are still made by the parties. But they reach those decisions with the help of an independent and trained third party. The mediator does not take sides and does not make the decisions for you. For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Arbitration

Arbitration also involves the help of an independent and trained third party. However, the third party is hired to make a decision. In other words, the arbitrator hears both sides, reviews documents and evidence, and comes up with a binding decision. For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Negotiating through lawyers

“Negotiation” is a term used to describe any process where there is a “discussion” to resolve a disagreement or conflict. The goal of the discussion is to come to an agreement. This is different from simply “presenting sides” and having someone else make a decision for you. Coming to an agreement on your own and mediation are two forms of negotiation.

You can also negotiate though lawyers. In fact, many family law cases are solved in this way. The parties resolve their issues before ever getting in front of a judge by suggesting different solutions through their lawyers. Most lawyers will try to negotiate before they decide to take the case to court.

For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative Family Law is another way of working together. It has 2 key features:

  • each party hires a lawyer; and
  • the parties and the lawyers agree to resolve all matters without going to court or threatening to go to court.

For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Agreements resulting from out-of-court options

For any of these out-of-court options, the goal is to reach an agreement. This means that everyone involved will have worked out solutions for:

  • the issues you have now; and
  • how you will deal with future problems.

Keep in mind that making agreements can be tricky and complex. There are many things to consider. For more information on the process and requirements of making an agreement, as well as things to watch out for, see the Coming to an Agreement on Your Own Information Page.

Be Aware

Courthouse staff and Resolution and Court Administration Services cannot help with the drafting or completion of the agreement.

Turning your agreement into a consent order

Having an agreement does not mean that the other party will necessarily follow that agreement. For that reason, once you have an agreement you may wish to take steps to make sure that your agreement can be enforced. There are two ways to make sure that a child support agreement can be enforced:

  • You can prepare a consent order setting out the terms of your agreement. However, you can only do this if there is already an action started in Provincial Court (in other words, you have already filed a Claim). It does not have to be a child support claim, just a claim related to your relationship breakdown. Perhaps you have filed a Claim about parenting time and child support, but before going to court, you come to an agreement—you can turn that agreement into a court order because you already have a court claim started in Provincial Court. For more information about how to complete consent orders in Provincial Court, see the “Consent orders” section below.
Queen's Bench

 

  • If you are eligible, you can complete a “Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement” (MESA). By itself, a MESA is not a court order. However, it is a specific kind of Agreement that has a mandatory template form and required steps. One of these steps is to file the completed Agreement with the Court of Queen’s Bench in order for it to be turned into a court order. If you have already started a claim in Provincial Court, this option would be less appealing, because it would involve another level of court. For more information about Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements, click on the “Queen’s Bench” Process tab above.

After you have your Consent Order: Registering your Order

In order to enforce a child support order, turning your agreement into a consent order is only the first step. Once you have your court order, you must register it with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). For more detailed information about MEP’s requirements and processes, see the “Enforcing child support” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” section below.

In addition, you may also be able to register your order with the Recalculation Program (RP), which is a program that adjusts the child support amount every year so that you do not have to go to court to do so. For more information on the RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

Government programs to help avoid court (but they may be mandatory, if you do go to court)

Although these programs are provided by the Alberta Courts, a family does not necessarily have to be involved in a court action to use them. Part of the intent of these programs is to help keep people out of court, if possible.

However, if you do end up taking your matters to Provincial Court, it is important to know that some of these programs will be MANDATORY (you will have to take them). Others are always voluntary (it is your choice). The descriptions below will state whether the program is mandatory or voluntary.

Parenting After Separation (PAS)

To start an action in Provincial Court, the Parenting After Separation (PAS) workshop is not mandatory. However, the Court may order you to take the workshop at any point after you start a court action. Also, you may choose to take the workshop.

You may attend PAS either online or in-person in some locations.

Different locations may have different rules about whether or not you can register for the same session as the other party. If you do not want to register in the same session, that is always possible, or you may attend online.

For current contact information and PAS registration, see the following resource.

Web Parenting After Separation (PAS) course
Government of Alberta
English

Parenting After Separation for High Conflict Families (PASHC)

This program is for parents who:

  • have already completed the PAS workshop; and
  • are still struggling to communicate with each other.

It is a voluntary program. This program is currently only offered in Edmonton and Calgary. See the following resources for more information.


Focus on Communication in Separation (FOCIS)

FOCIS is a free, voluntary, 6-hour, skill-based communication course. Again, you do not have to be involved in a court process to take this course. See the FOCIS manual in the following resource.

Presentation Focus on Communication in Separation
Government of Alberta
English

Parents are not allowed to take the course together. Registration information is available in the following resource.

Web Focus on Communication in Separation (FOCIS) course
Government of Alberta
English

Caseflow Conferencing

This is a program that is available to parties without a lawyer who have filed their first court application, but have not yet gone before a judge. It is meant to help parties reach an agreement out of court, or to be better prepared when going to court.

Caseflow conferencing is only available in some areas. Contact Resolution and Court Administration Services to see if it is required in your judicial centre.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

The program is mandatory for anyone without a lawyer who is applying for parenting, guardianship, or contact in those cities. If you have a lawyer but would still like to use the program, you can request an appointment when filing your application. For more information on the program, see the following resources.

PDF Caseflow Conference Program
Government of Alberta
English
This resource refers to “Family Justice Services.” The name of this program has changed to Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Support in resolving parenting disputes
Government of Alberta
English

If you live in other areas of Alberta, other help may be available in your area. See the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below.

Free family mediation

Whether or not you have a court action started, you may use the Family Mediation Program offered by Resolution and Court Administration Services. Mediation aims to help you reach an agreement out of court about your separation issues. To qualify for free mediation:

  • one of the parties must make less than $40,000 a year; and
  • there must be at least one dependent child under 18 years old.

This service is offered across the province. Where mediation is possible, it is greatly encouraged.

For contact information and to register, see the following resource.

Web Family mediation
Government of Alberta
English

Court-supported family mediation

Whether or not you have a court action started, you may use the court-provided Family Mediation Services program. Mediation aims to help you reach an agreement with your former partner about parenting and other separation issues. To qualify for free mediation;

  • one of the parents must make less than $40,000 a year; and
  • there must be at least one dependant child under 18 years old.

This service is offered across the province. Where mediation is possible, it is greatly encouraged.

For contact information and to register, see the following resource.

Audio/Web 
See “Family Mediation.”

Dispute Resolution Officer / Child Support Resolution Officer (Edmonton and Calgary only)

The Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) program is in Calgary, and the Child Support Resolution Officer (CSRO) program is in Edmonton. These programs are mandatory in the Court of Queen’s Bench, but available to parties filing in Provincial Court, as well as parties without any court action started.

These programs allow parties who want to apply for or change their child support to meet together with a “resolution officer.” This resolution officer is a family lawyer who will help the parties try to reach an agreement. If they can't reach an agreement, the lawyer will go over next steps. See the following resource for more information.

Web Resolving child support disputes
Government of Alberta
English

The paperwork required for these programs is different in Edmonton and Calgary.

  • If you want to attend in Edmonton, see this resource for more information:
PDF Child Support Resolution Project (Edmonton)
Government of Alberta
English
  • If you want to attend in Calgary, see this resource for more information:
PDF Dispute Resolution Officer Program (Calgary)
Government of Alberta
English

Child Support Services

Alberta Human Services provides child support assistance to low income families who are receiving the following services:

  • Income Support,
  • Alberta Adult Health Benefit, or
  • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).

For more information, see the following resources.

Web Child Support Services
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Schedule A - Child Support Services
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
Hiring a lawyer or representing yourself?

If you go to court, you can choose to either be represented by a lawyer, or to represent yourself. If you choose to represent yourself, you will be called a “self-represented litigant.”

Hiring a lawyer

If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will explain to you what is happening with your case and why. A lawyer can help you reach an out-of-court agreement, or represent you in court.

However, even if you do have a lawyer, you may wish to continue reading this (and other Information Pages) to educate yourself further.

For more information about your options for legal representation and other legal help, see the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page and the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

Representing yourself

As a self-represented litigant, you can find some help at Resolution and Court Administration Services. See the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below for information about help available in your area.

Also, you may be required to go through certain processes before your case can move forward. This depends on your judicial centre. For example:

  • You may have to go through the triage process (see the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below).
  • You may need to have a formal intake appointment before you are allowed to file any court documents (see the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below).
  • You may have to take part in caseflow conferencing (see the “Government programs to help avoid court” section above).

For more information about the help and required programs in your judicial centre, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

In some courthouses, you may have the option of speaking with “duty counsel.” Duty counsel are volunteer lawyers who will discuss your legal issue with you for free. This can include what the judge may think of your requests and the “merits of your claim.” There are no income restrictions to speak with duty counsel, but the service is limited. They are only at certain courthouses on certain days. Also, there may be many people waiting to speak with them. If you need to speak to duty counsel, make sure you get to the courthouse early. Check with your judicial centre to verify the times and days duty counsel will be available.

For information about what matters duty counsel can help with, and which judicial centres have duty counsel available, see the following resource.

Web Duty Counsel - Legal Assistance at Court
Legal Aid Alberta
English
Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services

Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS) is a group of programs and services offered by the Alberta government to help people resolve their legal matters. RCAS staff:

  • help you stay out of court when possible;
  • help with the court process and forms if you go to court; and
  • offer free or low-cost programs to help families with the legal system.

For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Be Aware

These services used to be called Family Justice Services, Family Law Information Centres, and Law Information Centres. They are now together as a single point of contact to help Albertans with legal matters. However, you might still see some resources that call those services by their old names.

If you choose to go to court, some RCAS services might be mandatory. This means that you must use those services. This can depend on where you live and what kinds of issues you are taking to court.

In some locations, all self-represented litigants must first go through “triage services” before doing anything else. At triage, you will:

  • meet with RCAS staff for about 10 minutes to see what your next steps should be;
  • be referred to different services based on your needs;
  • be told what steps you can take next; and
  • schedule an intake appointment if needed (see below).

In many locations, self-represented litigants will have the option to go through an intake process. In some locations it is mandatory. At intake, RCAS staff will discuss your options with you. This may include a referral to court-supported family mediation when appropriate. See the following resources for more information.

Web Family court assistance
Government of Alberta
English

Web Intake Services (Alberta)
Government of Canada
English

RCAS staff also:

  • provide caseflow conferencing (see the “Government programs to help avoid court” section above);
  • help you review your documents before you file; and
  • provide family court counsellors (FCCs) who help you learn about the court process and present the facts to the judge.

For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Before you go to court: Get to know the court system

Before filing any documents, you will need to learn about the court process. It is not simple and there are many rules. If you represent yourself, you will need to follow the required processes and the rules.

Paying fees

When you start or respond to a court action, there is often a filing fee that must be paid. There can also be fees for additional applications related to your case. For a current list of fees and options if you can’t afford the fees, see the following resources.

Web Court fees
Government of Alberta
English

Web Waiving a filing fee
Government of Alberta
English

PDF Court Fees & Waivers in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Docket court

Family court matters are not like you see on television. They do not usually go straight to trial. Instead, many matters are resolved in “docket court.” Docket court is where “pre-trial” requests and procedures (often called “applications”) take place. These pre-trial hearings are in courtrooms that are open to the public, where the judge hears a list of different cases by different people.

Judges in docket court can give various kinds of orders. For example, they can:

  • Make orders about purely procedural issues (such as a request for an exception to a particular court rule).
  • Make “interim orders.” Interim orders are “temporary” orders, meant to provide short-term solutions while the parties work out longer-term plans. Interim orders can be for definite or indefinite periods of time.
  • Make “orders” about family law matters (such as issues about child support). These orders are generally not the final decision in a matter. Usually, a final decision comes only after trial. That decision is called a “judgment.” However, many parties choose to never go to trial. Instead they just accept the order(s) granted in applications as a permanent solution. They never go to trial and get a final “judgment.”

Some separating couples can resolve their issues in docket court, and they move forward without ever needing to go to trial. Other parties need to go to trial to resolve their issues (sometimes all of their issues, sometimes only some of them).

For more information on the court process, including docket court, interim orders, and going to trial, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

Scheduling hearings and giving notice to the other party

The sections below will explain all of the paperwork that needs to be completed for docket court hearings. You will learn that there are rules about:

  • how to schedule hearing dates; and
  • when you have to let the other party know about the application. This is called “giving notice.”

The court has these rules to make sure that everyone has enough time to prepare for court and no one is taken by surprise. This leads to fairer results.

Because of this, courts are quite strict about the rules. However, sometimes there are good reasons to not follow the rules. In such cases, you may want to ask for an “exception” to the rules. This means you are asking for permission to not follow the rules.

For example, it may be possible to:

  • get time limits shortened for giving notice to the other party (this is also called “abridging” the time); and
  • get court dates moved up to an earlier date.
Be Aware

These changes in the rules are for special situations. There must be a very good reason to request an exception. Also, if you ask for an exception, there are very specific steps that you must follow.

Also, in some cases it is possible to make an application without giving any notice to the other party. This is called making an “ex parte” application. For example, this can happen:

  • if you cannot find the other party, or
  • when your safety (or your children’s safety) may be at risk if you give the other party notice ahead of time.

For information about whether you can ask for any of these exceptions, contact the Provincial Court in your judicial centre, or call Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English
Filing court paperwork for the first time

If you cannot resolve your issues out of court, either you or your former partner can start a court action. This means one of you will have to file the first set of paperwork, and the other will file the first response.

The information in this section is for the partner who fills out the very first set of paperwork that starts a brand new action. This is called an “initial” application.

“Initial” applications are also used in situations where you are asking for something that is completely new. It is not related to any court action that you might have already started about a different matter. This is different from asking the court to change the terms in a previous court order—that is called a “variation.” For information about variations, see the “Asking for changes to a previous court order” section below.

All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Remember

Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

Before you go to court: Is this the right court to file in?

To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

Or, should you be applying in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

If Alberta is the correct province, is this the right level of court?

Remember, there are certain things that can only be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Do you think you might need any of those things? Do you think that your former partner might ask for any of those things? For more information on the differences between these 2 courts, and why you might have to choose one over the other, see the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

Is this the right judicial centre?

Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). The general rule is that a person must file their documents and go to court in the judicial centre where they live. However, under the Family Law Act, when a person files a claim involving a child, the general rule is that the matter should be heard in the judicial centre where the child lives.

For example:

  • The child lives in Grande Prairie. The documents should be filed in Grande Prairie, and any court hearing should take place in Grande Prairie.
  • One parent lives and works in Edmonton. That parent can hand in the documents at the Edmonton courthouse, but the documents will be sent up to Grande Prairie. The physical file will stay there, and the matter will be heard there.

If the child lives an equal amount of time in 2 different judicial centres, it can be more difficult to determine the correct judicial centre for the court application. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

Is/was there domestic violence?

If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

Presentation Overview of Family Law
YWCA Canada
English

For more information, see Family Violence and the Legal Process.

If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

Completing the Claim

Under the Family Law Act, when you first ask for a court hearing, you have to complete a Claim form. This is a general form that sets out some basic information. It will also include the date and time of the hearing.

Remember

In some judicial centres, before filing your Claim you must first have an intake appointment at Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS). Contact RCAS for more information.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

To file a Claim, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Claim - Family Law Act (Form FL-10 / CTS3459)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

When you file a Claim, you must also file a “Statement” for each topic that you want the judge to decide about. This is also called the “relief” that you are asking for. For example: there are separate Statements for parenting, child support, and partner support. Each kind of relief has its own Statement.

Be Aware

In Provincial Court, you can only have one Claim at a time. Be sure to include everything you want the court to decide about in your Claim form. If you do not, you will have to file an Amended Claim. To do that you would need to complete the Claim form again. On this form you would repeat the original information, and add all of the new information. If you do this, your court hearing may be moved to a later date to give the other party enough time to respond to the changes.

The issue of parentage

Sometimes, people want or need a court order declaring “parentage” (in other words, declaring who is the father of the child). For example: if they want to add or change the name of the father on the child’s birth certificate. Getting a “Declaration of Parentage” is a specific application process that can only be done in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

When making an application for child support, the issue of parentage may come up. For example:

  • if you think that you are the biological parent of the child and the other parent claims that you are not; or
  • if you think that someone is a biological parent of a child and that person denies being the biological parent.

For the purposes of a child support application, the Court does not require a formal application for a “Declaration of Parentage.” In other words, if child support is the only child-related issue the Court is dealing with, the Court (either Queen’s Bench or Provincial Court) can hear the application, decide whether a person is the parent of the child, and award child support if needed. In general, this means that the court will order a DNA test and decide about child support after seeing the results of the DNA test. However, a court can make a finding of parentage for child support purposes without first requiring a DNA test (but this is not common).

To address the issue of parentage as part of your child support application, you do not need any special paperwork. Simply include the information in your Statement (see below).

Are you asking for something “temporary”?

Sometimes, when you go to court in a family matter, you start by asking for a short-term (or “temporary”) solution. You plan to go back to court later to get a more permanent arrangement. In some of the resources on this Information Page, these temporary orders are also called “interim” or “interlocutory” orders.

The purpose of these orders is to put things in place while the court action continues. It can take quite a lot of time for the Court to fully consider all of the issues and make more long-term decisions. Temporary orders may be needed for child support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent child support order.

Family Violence

Interim orders are also quite common in cases involving family violence. Sometimes, they are required because the situation is an emergency. In such a case you might be able to get the interim order without even giving notice to the other parent/guardian. This is called an “ex parte” order.

For more information on interim orders, including ex parte orders, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

In situations where the order is intended to be short term, it is important that your Statement:

  • says that you are asking for a temporary order;
  • explains what you want; and
  • tells why you want it.

This is especially important if the request is for something unusual, or something that the Court might normally reject. There is more information about Statements below.

If you get a temporary order, you can expect to go back to court in the future about this. In fact, the first Order will often include the next hearing date. This next hearing date is when the matter will be heard to see if changes are required and a more permanent order can be made.

If you need to change a temporary order before the next scheduled hearing, you will need to apply to have the hearing date moved up. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

Completing the Statement about child support

To ask for child support, you will need to complete the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Statement - Child Support (Form FL-45 / CTS3469)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

For examples of what information to include in your Statement about child support, see the following resource.

PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
This booklet talks about “Affidavits,” but the same information applies to “Statements” as well. See p. 24-27.

The financial information that must be given is listed in section 21 of the Child Support Guidelines. This includes:

  • your income tax returns for the last 3 years;
  • your Notices of Assessment for the last 3 years;
  • proof of your current income from this year (such as pay stubs); and
  • a list of section 7 expenses (see the Law tab of this Information Page for more information).

A “tax return” is all of the paperwork you send to Canada Revenue Agency when you do your taxes every year. A “Notice of Assessment” is the paperwork that Canada Revenue Agency then sends back to you with a summary of the information in your tax return. Your Notice of Assessment explains if you are getting a refund or if you owe any taxes.

For examples of what these documents look like, see the following resources.


Web Income Tax Notice Of Assessment
Dominion Lending Centres Inc.
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

For information about how to complete a tax return and get a copy of a Notice of Assessment, see the following resources.

Web All about your tax return
Government of Canada
English
See “Completing a tax return” and “How to obtain a copy of your notice of assessment or reassessment.”

Web Tout sur votre déclaration de revenus
Government of Canada
French
See “Remplir une déclaration de revenus” and “Comment obtenir une copie de votre avis de cotisation ou de nouvelle cotisation.”

However, this is not all of the information that must be provided. There is much more information that must be included. The exact information you need to provide depends on your situation.

For a complete list of the income information that is required, see the following resource.

Web Financial Information Required for Determination of Income for Child and Spousal Support
Blair Corkum Financial Planning Inc.
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

You can also include calculations that show what you think your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
Government of Alberta
English

In your Statement, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

  • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
  • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
Government of Alberta
English
See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

Filing a Request for Financial Information

When you are filing for child support, you may also wish to file a “Request for Financial Information.”

A Request for Financial Information requires your former partner to provide you with detailed financial information within one month. You would need this financial information if you plan to have the Court make an order about child support. You can also just ask your former partner for their financial information. But if they are not providing it, using a Request for Financial Information makes sure that you will get it.

When you serve a Request for Financial Information, you must give your former partner all of the same financial information that you are asking of him or her—you can attach all of your financial information to your child support Statement (see above). You cannot serve your former partner with a Request for Financial Information without providing your financial information.

A Request for Financial Information cannot be filed on its own. It can only be filed at the same time as the paperwork for an Application about one or more other issues (such as guardianship, parenting, and child support). The matters are all combined into one hearing—the hearing will usually be scheduled after at least 30 days, so that your former partner has time to provide the financial information. If you receive the financial information from your former partner before the date of the combined hearing, at the hearing you simply let the judge know that you have received the financial information.

To file a Request for Financial Information, use the following form. Instructions are included on the form. Be sure to check off the box for every kind of information that you need. If a box is not checked off, your former partner does not need to give you that information. Similarly, you must provide all of the same information: if you do not check off a box for your former partner, you do not need to provide that information either.

PDF Request for Financial Information (Form CTS3511)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

The Request for Financial Information must be served on your former partner. Since you are filing the Request for Financial Information at the same time as the documents for another application, you can serve all of the documents at the same time, using the “Affidavit of Service - Applicant.” In that affidavit, you must remember to check off the box about financial information. For more information on how to complete that affidavit, as well as the link to it, see the “Proving that the paperwork was served” section below.

Completing Statements for other matters in dispute

When you are filing the paperwork about child support, you may also wish to file Statements about other issues related to your separation. The required forms can be found on the Information Pages for each topic.

Getting the paperwork checked over

Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

 

“Swearing” the paperwork

Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

“Filing” the paperwork and choosing a court date

To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Provincial Courthouse in the correct judicial centre.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

At the courthouse, and with the help of a court clerk, you will be able to pick a court date. In some locations, your first court date will include the Caseflow Coordinator. When choosing a date, you will need to factor in the amount of notice that you need to give the Respondent (see the “Serving the paperwork” section below). You also need to give the other party enough time to respond to your application.

After you have picked a court date, write down the court date on the first page of all of the copies of your claim. The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

“Serving” the paperwork

Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed and filed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is to notify the other party that a hearing is taking place. This means you have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter. For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

However, there are certain very limited situations in which the other party does not need to be notified of the hearing. This is called an “ex parte” hearing. For more information on these situations, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

There are time limits in which you must complete the service:

  • If the service takes place in Alberta, the service must be completed 20 days or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing).
  • If the service takes place outside of Alberta (but still in Canada), the service must be completed one month or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Alberta, you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
  • If the service takes place outside of Canada, the service must be completed two months or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Canada you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
Be Aware

If the person you are serving lives permanently outside of Alberta, you may want to proceed with your child support application as an Interjurisdictional Support Order. For information about that, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

“Proving” that the paperwork was served

It is not enough for you to just serve the other party. You must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form must be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

PDF Affidavit of Service - Applicant (CTS3513)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

Get ready for the response

Before the court date, the other party will be serving you with his or her response. Be aware that there are time limits in which the other party must respond (see the “Responding to court paperwork for the first time” section below). You will need to read his or her paperwork to ensure that you are ready for your court date. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process.

PDF Family Law Act Procedure
Government of Alberta
English

When you filed your Claim and Statements, you were given a court date and time. You need to be there on that day. For information on going to court, see the “Going to and being in docket court” section below.

Do you need to respond to your former partner’s Response?

Sometimes, between the time you first file your paperwork and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change to deal with. You may need to:

  • update some facts about you, such as a change of income or contact details;
  • respond to some updated facts given by the other party; or
  • add something that is related to the relief that you are asking for. For example: you are applying for parenting, but now you have booked a trip. You realize that you have to ask about travel consent as well.

If this occurs, you can let the Court know by filing an “Update Statement.” The form you will need is available below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

Be aware that Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain:

  • how the information is new; and
  • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.

You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to the other party. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

Be Aware

Your former partner may also use an Update Statement to reply to your Update Statement.

Responding to court paperwork for the first time

If you have reached the point where your issues must be resolved through court, either you or your former partner can start a court action. This means either you or your former partner will have to file the first set of paperwork, and the other will file the first response.

The information in this section is for the parent who responds to the very first set of paperwork.

These “first-time” applications are also called “initial” applications. “Initial” applications are also used in situations where the Applicant is asking for something that is completely new, even though you might have a court action already started about a different matter. This is different from asking the court to change the terms in a previous court order—that is called a “variation.” For information about variations, see the “Responding to a request for changes to a previous court order” section below.

All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Remember

Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

Before you go to court: Is this in the right court?

To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

Perhaps the Applicant made a mistake? Should you be going to court in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

If Alberta is the correct province, is it in the right level of court?

You have been served with a Claim form and one or more Statement forms. The check box at the top of the Claim form will tell you in which court the Applicant filed their paperwork. Did they choose the right court? Perhaps they made a mistake when they chose Provincial Court. Or perhaps you wish to add something that can only be heard in Queen’s Bench. For more information on the differences between these 2 courts, and why you might have to choose one over the other, see the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

Did the Applicant choose the right judicial centre?

Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). The general rule is that a person must file their documents and go to court in the judicial centre where they live. However, under the Family Law Act, when a person files a claim involving a child, the general rule is that the matter should be heard in the judicial centre where the child lives. If the Applicant made an error, or if the child has moved, you can simply respond in the judicial centre where the child now lives.

For example:

  • The Applicant filed in Red Deer and the court file is in Red Deer.
  • You and the child have moved to Calgary.
  • You can file your response in Calgary, but the documents will be sent to Red Deer and the hearing will start in Red Deer.
  • When you go to Red Deer for the start of the hearing, you can ask that the application and future matters be heard in Calgary. This would mean having the court file transferred to Calgary.

In such a case, the judge has 3 options.

  • Option 1: If the judge feels it is appropriate, he or she can choose not deal with the matters in the application. Instead the judge would only order that the file and the hearing be transferred to Calgary.
  • Option 2: The judge can deal with the matters in the application. At the same time, the judge can also order that the file be transferred to Calgary so that any further applications can be heard there.
  • Option 3: The judge can deal with the application and refuse to move the entire file. The file would remain in Red Deer and all future applications would also be heard in Red Deer.

The judge's decision would be based on which location is the most convenient for the parties. However, where the children are living is given a lot of weight in that decision.

If the child lives an equal amount of time in 2 different judicial centres, it can be more difficult to determine the correct judicial centre for the court application. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

Time limits

Once you have been served with documents, you have to respond within a certain amount of time. You must file your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim. Anything less than 10 days’ notice will be presumed to be “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. In other words: it is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing.

If for any reason you cannot file within that time limit, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing. 

Is/was there domestic violence?

If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

Presentation Overview of Family Law
YWCA Canada
English

For more information, see the Family Violence and the Legal Procese Information Page.

If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

Completing the “Response”

When your former partner filed an initial application, he or she filed a special document called a “Claim.” Read the Claim carefully. You must respond to this Claim by filing a special document called a Response.

To file a Response, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Response - Family Law Act (Form FL-11 / CTS3460)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

 Fill in the information at the top of the Response form, then pay careful attention to the choices you are given.

If you agree with everything that the Applicant asked for

In this case, check the box on the Response form that says you agree and fill out the rest of the form.

If you agree, but you also have other things that you want to ask for

In this case, start by checking off on the Response form that you agree in Part 1.

Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim.

For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement. There must be a Statement form for each of the topics you checked off. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.

If you do not agree AND you have other things that you want to ask for

In this case, you will start by checking off in Part 1 of the Response form that you do not agree.

Then, you will fill out a Reply Statement for each of the topics brought up by the Applicant. For example: if they included a “Statement - Child Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Child Support” (see below for direct link).

Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim.

For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement. There must be a Statement form for each of the topics you checked off. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.  

Replying to the issue of parentage

As part of the application for child support, the issue of “parentage” (in other words, who the father is) may also come up.

If your former partner has claimed that you are the biological parent and you believe that you are not, you can let the Court know in your “Reply Statement - Child Support” (below). Be aware that the Court may ask you to take a DNA test to prove that you are not the father. Although you do not have to take the DNA test, the Court can “make a finding” that you are the father without a DNA test.

Completing the Reply Statement about child support

To respond to a request for child support, you will need to complete the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Reply Statement - Child Support (Form FL-67 / CTS3481)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

The financial information that must be given is listed in section 21 of the Child Support Guidelines. This includes:

  • your income tax returns for the last 3 years;
  • your Notices of Assessment for the last 3 years;
  • proof of your current income from this year (such as pay stubs); and
  • a list of section 7 expenses (see the Law tab of this Information Page for more information).

A “tax return” is all of the paperwork you send to Canada Revenue Agency when you do your taxes every year. A “Notice of Assessment” is the paperwork that Canada Revenue Agency then sends back to you with a summary of the information in your tax return. Your Notice of Assessment explains if you are getting a refund or if you owe any taxes.

For examples of what these documents look like, see the following resources.


Web Income Tax Notice Of Assessment
Dominion Lending Centres Inc.
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

For information about how to complete a tax return and get a copy of a Notice of Assessment, see the following resources.

Web All about your tax return
Government of Canada
English
See “Completing a tax return” and “How to obtain a copy of your notice of assessment or reassessment.”

Web Tout sur votre déclaration de revenus
Government of Canada
French
See “Remplir une déclaration de revenus” and “Comment obtenir une copie de votre avis de cotisation ou de nouvelle cotisation.”

However, this is not all of the information that must be provided. There is much more information that must be included. The exact information you need to provide depends on your situation.

For a complete list of the income information that is required, see the following resource.

Web Financial Information Required for Determination of Income for Child and Spousal Support
Blair Corkum Financial Planning Inc.
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

You can also include calculations that show what you think you and/or your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
Government of Alberta
English

In your Reply Statement, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

  • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
  • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
Government of Alberta
English
See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

Regarding a Request for Financial Information

When you were served with your former partner’s Claim and Statements, you may also have been served with a “Request for Financial Information.”

A Request for Financial Information is the court document that requires you to provide your former partner with detailed financial information within one month. You would need this financial information to respond to any application about child support. The hearing about the Request for Financial Information is scheduled at the same time as the hearing on the other matters. You should carefully read your documents so that you know about your deadlines and the hearing date.

If you were served with a Request for Financial Information, you must provide your financial information within one month. If you do not provide your financial information within one month, on the hearing date the Court may make an order to get the information from you or your employer, and they may charge you fines. If you provide your financial information within one month, the hearing can go ahead to deal with any other matters, but the issue of financial disclosure will be removed from the list of things that need to be heard.

There is no specific form for responding to a Request for Financial Information: you can simply include all of the information that was requested with your Reply Statement about child support (see the section just above).

Once you have served your former partner, you must file an Affidavit of Service. List all of the documents you served into one affidavit: the “Affidavit of Service - Respondent.” In that affidavit, you must remember to check off the box about financial information. For a link to the “Affidavit of Service - Respondent,” see the “Proving that the paperwork was served” section below.

Because he or she filed a Request for Financial Information, your former partner must provide you with the exact same financial information that he or she has asked of you. It should have arrived along with all of the other documents that you were served with.

If you were not served with a Request for Financial Information, and you do not already have the financial information that you need from your former partner, you can file a Request for Financial Information yourself (see the “Filing court paperwork for the first time” section above).

Completing Reply Statements for other matters in dispute

When you were served with your former partner’s Claim and Statements about guardianship and parenting, you may also have been served Statements about other issues related to your separation. The information about how to respond to those forms can be found on the Information Pages for each topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements

You may be asking for other topics to be addressed in addition to child support. If this is the case, you will have additional forms to fill out.

If you are asking for something else that was not mentioned by the Applicant, you will complete a Statement for each topic. For example, you are asking for partner support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address partner support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support.”

For information and forms about all of these other topics, see the Information Page about that topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

Getting the paperwork checked over

Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

 

“Swearing” the paperwork

Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

“Filing” the paperwork

To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Provincial Courthouse in the correct judicial centre.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

“Serving” the paperwork

Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is the same as you were served with their paperwork to begin with. You have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter.

For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

Remember

It is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing. If you do not, you risk your matter being adjourned (delayed until a later date) because you did not give your former partner enough time to review your documents.

“Proving” that the paperwork was served

It is not enough for you to just serve the other party. You must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form must be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

PDF Affidavit of Service - Respondent (Form CTS3514)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

Watch for Update Statements

Sometimes, between the time the initial application is filed and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change in some facts about your former partner (such as a change of income or contact details). If this occurs, he or she will let the court know by filing something called an “Update Statement,” and you would be served with a copy.

In the same way, some facts about you may change. Or you may need to make an additional request related to child support. Then you will need to let the court know by filling out an Update Statement of your own. The form you will need is below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
Be Aware

Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain:

  • how the information is new; and
  • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.

You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

Plan to go to the court hearing

The Claim tells you when and where court will be held. Go to that hearing. If you do not go to court on that day, the court may make an order in your absence. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process, including what can happen if you do not respond in time.

PDF Family Law Act Procedure
Government of Alberta
English

If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English
Asking for changes to a previous court order (also called “variations”)

As circumstances change, and your children age, you and/or your former partner may need or want to change the terms of a previous child support order. If the order you want to change came from a previous application heard in docket court, you can ask for a “variation.”

If you are trying to change an interim order, you cannot apply for a variation. Instead you must request that the next scheduled court date be made sooner. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Remember

You can also change your child support amount by using the Recalculation Program, if you are eligible and if it is appropriate. Before you file the court paperwork for a variation, take a moment to consider whether the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) might be a better option than going to court. For more information about the program, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page. For information about how to register with the RP see the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Remember

Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Variation Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

Before you go to court: Is this the right court to file in?

To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

Is it an Alberta court order that you are trying to change (“vary”)? Should the application be in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

If Alberta is the correct province, is this the right level of court?

Is it a Provincial Court order that you are trying to vary? Even if it is, are you asking for something new that the Provincial Court can hear? Or are you asking for something that only the Court of Queen’s Bench can hear? Remember, there are certain things that can only be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench. For more information on the differences between these 2 courts, and why you might have to choose one over the other, see the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

Is this the right judicial centre?

Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). The general rule is that a person must file their documents and go to court in the judicial centre where they live. However, under the Family Law Act, when a person files a claim involving a child, the general rule is that the matter should be heard in the judicial centre where the child lives. Are you filing this request for a variation in the judicial centre where the child lives?

The child may now live in a different judicial centre than he or she used to. In this case, you can file the variation request in the judicial centre where the child now lives. The court file may still be in the previous judicial centre. Check the last court document that was filed—it will note the judicial centre.

For example:

  • You were granted an Order from Red Deer, and the court file is still in Red Deer.
  • You and the child have moved to Calgary.
  • Now you want to apply to vary the Order.
  • You can file your variation request in Calgary, but the documents will be sent to Red Deer and the hearing will start in Red Deer.
  • When you go to Red Deer for the start of the hearing, you can ask that the application and future matters be heard in Calgary. This would mean having the court file transferred to Calgary.

In such a case, the judge has 3 options.

  • Option 1: If the judge feels it is appropriate, he or she can choose not deal with the matters in the application. Instead the judge would only order that the file and the hearing be transferred to Calgary.
  • Option 2: The judge can deal with the matters in the application. At the same time, the judge can also order that the file be transferred to Calgary so that any further applications can be heard there.
  • Option 3: The judge can deal with the application and refuse to move the entire file. The file would remain in Red Deer and all future applications would also be heard in Red Deer.

The judge's decision would be based on which location is the most convenient for the parties. However, where the children are living is given a lot of weight in that decision.      

If the child lives an equal amount of time in 2 different judicial centres, it can be more difficult to determine the correct judicial centre for the court application. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

Is/was there domestic violence?

If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

Presentation Overview of Family Law
YWCA Canada
English

For more information, see Family Violence and the Legal Process.

If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

Completing the Claim

Under the Family Law Act, when you first ask for a court hearing (including a request for a variation), you have to complete a Claim form. This is a general form that sets out some basic information. It will also include the date and time of the hearing.

Remember

In some judicial centres, before filing your Claim you must first have an intake appointment at Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS). Contact RCAS for more information.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

To file a Claim, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Claim - Family Law Act (Form FL-10 / CTS3459)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

When you file a Claim to vary a previous court order, you must also file a “Variation Statement” for each topic that you want the judge to decide about. This is also called the “relief” that you are asking for. For example: there are separate Variation Statements for parenting, child support, and partner support. Each kind of relief has its own Variation Statement.

Be Aware

In Provincial Court, you can only have one Claim at a time. Be sure to include everything you want the court to decide about in your Claim form. If you do not, you will have to file an Amended Claim. To do that you would need to complete the Claim form again. On this form you would repeat the original information, and add all of the new information. If you do this, your court hearing may be moved to a later date to give the other party enough time to respond to the changes.

Are you asking for something “temporary”?

Sometimes, when you go to court in a family matter, you start by asking for a short-term (or “temporary”) solution. You plan to go back to court later to get a more permanent arrangement. In some of the resources on this Information Page, these temporary orders are also called “interim” or “interlocutory” orders.

The purpose of these orders is to put things in place while the court action continues. It can take quite a lot of time for the Court to fully consider all of the issues and make more long-term decisions. Temporary orders may be needed for child support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent child support order.

Family Violence

Interim orders are also quite common in cases involving family violence. Sometimes, they are required because the situation is an emergency. In such a case you might be able to get the interim order without even giving notice to the other parent/guardian. This is called an “ex parte” order.

For more information on interim orders, including ex parte orders, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

In situations where the order is intended to be short term, it is important that your Statement:

  • says that you are asking for a temporary order;
  • explains what you want; and
  • tells why you want it.

This is especially important if the request is for something unusual, or something that the Court might normally reject. There is more information about Statements below.

If you get a temporary order, you can expect to go back to court in the future about this. In fact, the first Order will often include the next hearing date. This next hearing date is when the matter will be heard to see if changes are required and a more permanent order can be made.

If you need to change a temporary order before the next scheduled hearing, you will need to apply to have the hearing date moved up. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

Completing the Variation Statement about child support

To change child support, there is a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting child support (the Recipient) or the person paying the child support (the Payor).

If you are the recipient of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

If you are the recipient and you are asking for retroactive child support, you would still use this same form: just include all of the information required to make such a request.

If you are the payor of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Payor's Statement - Vary Child Support (Form FL-47 / CTS3471)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

If you are the payor and you are asking to have your child support arrears reduced or cancelled, you would use this same form, but be sure to fill in the information required about arrears.

Both of these child support statements also require calculations that show what you think your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
Government of Alberta
English

In your Variation Statement, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

  • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
  • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
Government of Alberta
English
See“Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

Including a Request for Financial Information

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to file a new “Request for Financial Information.” To refresh your memory about the Request for Financial Information and to access the forms you need, see the “Filing a Request for Financial Information” heading in the “Filing court paperwork for the first time” section above.

Completing Variation Statements for other matters in dispute

When you are filing the paperwork for a variation of child support, you may also wish to file Statements to vary other separation-related issues as well. The required forms can be found on the Information Pages for each topic.

Getting the paperwork checked over

Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

“Swearing” the paperwork

Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

“Filing” the paperwork and choosing an application date

To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Provincial Courthouse in the correct judicial centre.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

At the courthouse, and with the help of a court clerk, you will be able to pick a court date. When choosing a date, you will need to factor in the amount of notice that you need to give the other party (see the “Serving the paperwork” section below). You also need to give the other party enough time to respond to your application.

After you have picked a court date, write down the court date on the first page of all of the copies of your claim. The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

“Serving” the paperwork

Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed and filed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is to notify the other party that a hearing is taking place. This means you have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter. For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

However, there are certain very limited situations in which the other party does not need to be notified of the hearing. This is called an “ex parte” hearing. For more information on these situations, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

There are time limits in which you must complete the service:

  • If the service takes place in Alberta, the service must be completed 20 days or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing).
  • If the service takes place outside of Alberta (but still in Canada), the service must be completed one month or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Alberta, you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
  • If the service takes place outside of Canada, the service must be completed two months or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Canada you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
Be Aware

If the person you are serving lives permanently outside of Alberta, you may want to proceed with your child support application as an Interjurisdictional Support Order. For information about that, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

“Proving” that the paperwork was served

It is not enough for you to just serve the other party. You must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form must be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

PDF Affidavit of Service - Applicant (CTS3513)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

Get ready for the response

Before the court date, the other party will be serving you with his or her Response. Be aware that there are time limits in which the other party must respond (see the “Responding to a request for changes” section below). You will need to read his or her paperwork to ensure that you are ready for your court date. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process.

PDF Family Law Act Procedure
Government of Alberta
English

When you filed your Claim and Statements, you were given a court date and time. You need to be there on that day. For further information on going to court, see the “Going to and being in docket court” section below.

Do you need to respond to your former partner’s Response?

Sometimes, between the time you first file your paperwork and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change to deal with. You may need to:

  • update some facts about you, such as a change of income or contact details;
  • respond to some updated facts given by the other party; or
  • add something that is related to the relief that you are asking for. For example: you are applying for parenting, but now you have booked a trip. You realize that you have to ask about travel consent as well.

If this occurs, you can let the Court know by filing an “Update Statement.” The form you will need is below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

In this document, you should explain how the information is new and why it was not available when you first completed your forms.

You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

Be Aware

Your former partner may also use an Update Statement to reply to your Update Statement.

Responding to a request for changes to a court order (also called “variations”)

If you have been served with paperwork in which the other parent/guardian (who is known as “the Applicant”) asks for changes to child support, you will need to file documents to respond.

All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Remember

Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Variation Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

Before you go to court: Is this in the right court?

To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

Perhaps the Applicant made a mistake? Should your matter be heard in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

If Alberta is the correct province, is it in the right level of court?

You have been served with a Claim form and one or more Statement forms. The check box at the top of the Claim form will tell you in which court the Applicant filed their paperwork. Did they choose the right court? Perhaps they made a mistake when they chose Provincial Court. Or perhaps you wish to add something that can only be heard in Queen’s Bench. For more information on the differences between these 2 courts, and why you might have to choose one over the other, see the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

Did the Applicant choose the right judicial centre?

Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). The general rule is that a person must file their documents and go to court in the judicial centre where they live. However, under the Family Law Act, when a person files a claim involving a child, the general rule is that the matter should be heard in the judicial centre where the child lives. If the Applicant made an error, or if the child has since moved, you can simply respond to the application where the child lives now.

For example:

  • The Applicant filed in Red Deer and the court file is in Red Deer.
  • The child has since moved to Calgary.
  • You can file your response in Calgary, but the documents will be sent to Red Deer and the hearing will start in Red Deer.
  • When you go to Red Deer for the start of the hearing, you can ask that the application and future matters be heard in Calgary. This would mean having the court file transferred to Calgary.

In such a case, the judge has 3 options.

  • Option 1: If the judge feels it is appropriate, he or she can choose not deal with the matters in the application. Instead the judge would only order that the file and the hearing be transferred to Calgary.
  • Option 2: The judge can deal with the matters in the application. At the same time, the judge can also order that the file be transferred to Calgary so that any further applications can be heard there.
  • Option 3: The judge can deal with the application and refuse to move the entire file. The file would remain in Red Deer and all future applications would also be heard in Red Deer.

The judge's decision would be based on which location is the most convenient for the parties. However, where the children are living is given a lot of weight in that decision.

If the child lives an equal amount of time in 2 different judicial centres, it can be more difficult to determine the correct judicial centre for the court application. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

Time limits

Once you have been served with documents, you have to respond within a certain amount of time. You must file your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim, and anything less than 10 days’ notice will be presumed to be “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. In other words: it is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing .

If for any reason you cannot serve within that time limit, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing. 

Is/was there domestic violence?

If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

Presentation Overview of Family Law
YWCA Canada
English

For more information, see Family Violence and the Legal Process.

If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

Completing the “Response”

When your former partner filed their request for variation, they filed a document called a “Claim.” Read the Claim carefully. You must respond to this Claim by filing a document called a Response.

To file a Response, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

PDF Response - Family Law Act (Form FL-11 / CTS3460)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

Fill in the information at the top of the Response form, then pay careful attention to the choices you are given.

If you agree with everything that the Applicant asked for

In this case, check the box on the Response form that says you agree and fill out the rest of the form.

If you agree, but you also have other things that you want to ask for

In this case, start by checking off on the Response form that you agree in Part 1.

Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim. For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement or a Variation Statement. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.

If you do not agree AND you have other things that you want to ask for

In this case, you will start by checking off in Part 1 of the Response form that you do not agree.

Then, you will fill out a Variation Reply Statement for each of the topics brought up by the Applicant that you disagree with. For example: if they included a “Statement - Vary Child Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Vary Child Support.” See the heading below called “Completing the Variation Reply about child support” for more information.

Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim. For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement or a Variation Statement. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.

Completing the Variation Reply about child support

In order to respond to a request to vary the previous court order about child support, you have a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting child support (the Recipient) or the person paying child support (the Payor). Some of the information requested in each of the Statements may seem repetitive, but each Statement must be fully filled out.

If you are the recipient of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

Tip

If you, the recipient, are responding to a request by the payor to cancel or reduce child support arrears, you would use this same form.

If you are the payor of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

All of the child support Statements require calculations that show what you think your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
Government of Alberta
English

In your Variation Reply, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

  • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
  • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
Government of Alberta
English
See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

Regarding a Request for Financial Information

When you were served with your former partner’s Claim and Statements to change a previous court order, you may also have been served with a new “Request for Financial Information.” To refresh your memory about the Request for Financial Information and how to respond, see the “Regarding a Request for Financial Information” heading in the “Responding to court paperwork for the first time” section above.

Completing other Reply Statements

The Applicant may be asking for other topics to be addressed along with changing the child support Order. If this is the case, you will have additional forms to fill out.

If the Applicant is also asking to change other parts of an Order that you already have, you will complete a Variation Reply Statement for each topic. For example, if the Applicant filed a “Statement - Vary Parenting,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Vary Parenting.”

If the Applicant is asking for something new in addition to the contact variation, you will complete a Reply Statement for each topic. For example, if the Applicant filed a “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Spousal/Partner Support.”

For information and forms about all of these other topics, see the Information Page about that topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements

You may be asking for other topics to be addressed along with the change in child support. If this is the case, you will have additional forms to fill out.

If you are asking for a change to an Order you already have, and the topic was not mentioned by the Applicant, you will complete a Variation Statement for each topic. For example, if you want to change the amount of partner support being paid. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address changing the partner support. You would complete a “Statement - Vary Spousal/Partner Support.”

If you are asking for something entirely new, and the topic was not mentioned by the Applicant, you will complete a Statement for each topic. For example, you are asking for partner support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address partner support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support.”

For information and forms about all of these other topics, see the Information Page about that topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

    Getting the paperwork checked over

    Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    “Swearing” the paperwork

    Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    “Filing” the paperwork

    To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Provincial Courthouse in the correct judicial centre.

    Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

    “Serving” the paperwork

    Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is the same as you were served with their paperwork to begin with. You have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter.

    For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Remember

    It is best to serve your former partner10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing. If you do not, you risk your matter being adjourned (delayed until a later date) because you did not give your former partner enough time to review your documents.

    “Proving” that the paperwork was served

    It is not enough for you to just serve the other party: you must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form is to be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

    PDF Affidavit of Service - Respondent (Form CTS3514)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Watch for Update Statements

    Sometimes, between the time the initial application is filed and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change in some facts about your former partner (such as a change of income or contact details). If this occurs, he or she will let the court know by filing something called an “Update Statement,” and you would be served with a copy.

    In the same way, some facts about you may change. Or you may need to make an additional request related to child support. Then you will need to let the court know by filling out an Update Statement of your own. The form you will need is below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
    Be Aware

    Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

    If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain:

    • how the information is new; and
    • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.

    You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

    The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

    Plan to go to the court hearing

    The Application tells you when and where court will be held. Go to that hearing. If you do not go to court on that day, the court may make an order in your absence. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process, including what can happen if you do not respond in time.

    PDF Family Law Act Procedure
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Consent orders

    Just because a court application has been started does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything by going to court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Order.

    Be Aware

    You may not be able to get a consent order to reduce or cancel support arrears, or even change ongoing support, if the recipient has ever been on income assistance. For more information on steps you will need to take, call Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    There are two ways to get your agreement turned into a consent order. Which one you choose will likely depend on what has happened so far and where you are in the process.

    Option #1: Turn your agreement into a consent order

    The first option is to have your agreement turned into a consent order. However, you can only do this if there is already an action started in Provincial Court (in other words, you have already filed a Claim). It does not have to be a child support claim, just a claim related to your relationship breakdown. Perhaps you have filed a Claim about parenting time and child support, but before going to court, you come to an agreement—you can turn that agreement into a court order because you already have a court claim started in Provincial Court.

    On the day your matter is scheduled to be heard, you should arrive well before the scheduled start time. Tell the Clerk of the Court your name and what your matter is. The Clerk will then decide the order in which the matters will be heard. Often, matters where there are lawyers involved will be heard toward the beginning of the list, and matters involving self-represented litigants are heard toward the end of the list. If the judge agrees to the Consent Order, the Provincial Court Clerks prepare the Order and file it, then give it or send it to the parties.

    All court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP):

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

    For more information about RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    After you file your Order: Registering your Order

    If you want, or think that you may someday need, to have your consent child support order be part of either the Maintenance Enforcement or Recalculation Programs, you will need to make sure that your order meets all of those programs’ requirements.

    For more detailed information about MEP’s requirements see the “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” section below.

    For detailed information about the RP’s requirements and suggestions see the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    Option #2: Complete a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement

    Queen's Bench

    The second option is to complete a “Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement” (MESA). If you are eligible, you can complete a MESA. By itself, a MESA is not a court order. However, it is a specific kind of Agreement that has a mandatory template form and required steps. One of these steps is to file the completed Agreement with the Court of Queen’s Bench in order for it to be turned into a court order. If you have already started a claim in Provincial Court, this option would be less appealing, because it would involve another level of court.

    In addition, a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement deals only with child and partner/spousal support—nothing else can be added. Therefore, if you have agreed to matters other than just support, getting a consent order may be a better option for you. For more information about how to file a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement, see the Queen’s Bench Process tab.

    All court orders related to child support (which includes Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements that are filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench) must include one of two standard clauses about the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP):

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource. For more information about RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”
    Going to and being in docket court

    Plan to go to the court hearing

    The Claim form tells you when and where court will be held. Go to that hearing. If you do not go to court on that day, the court may make an order without you there.

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Preparing for docket court

    The Family Court division of the Provincial Court will hear your family matter. It will be in the form of “docket court.” This is where one judge sits in an open courtroom (meaning anyone can come in) and hears a list of different matters by different people. Yours is one case on the list. For more information on docket court, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    It is your responsibility to make sure that you are in the correct courtroom. When you enter the Courthouse, you can ask a staff member for directions.

    For most people, going to court will be a brand new experience. It may also come as a bit of surprise. Being in court is not really as it appears on most television shows, and you will likely not be familiar with the rules of court (yes, there are rules!). Also, most people find that dealing with family issues in court is stressful.

    For these reasons, it is a good idea to prepare for the court experience. The following resources provide some very useful information.

    Web Courtroom etiquette
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For more information, go to the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page.

    All court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP):

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    When you are in docket court, be sure to tell the judge whether you want RP to recalculate child support or not. This will make sure that the right clause is included in your child support order. If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

    For more information about RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    Family Court Counsellors

    In some locations, Family Court Counsellors (FCCs) may be available to help you learn about the court process. FCCs can also help present the facts to the judge. To get this help you will need to talk to them long before your court date!

    See the following resources for more information.

    Web Family court assistance
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Family court counsellor locations
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Duty counsel

    In some courthouses, you may have the option of speaking with “duty counsel.” Duty counsel are volunteer lawyers who will discuss your legal issue with you for free. This can include what the judge may think of your requests and the “merits of your claim.” There are no income restrictions to speak with duty counsel, but the service is limited. They are only at certain courthouses on certain days. Also, there may be many people waiting to speak with them. If you need to speak to duty counsel, make sure you get to the courthouse early. Check with your judicial centre to verify the times and days duty counsel will be available.

    For information about what matters duty counsel can help with, and which judicial centres have duty counsel available, see the following resource.

    Web Duty Counsel - Legal Assistance at Court
    Legal Aid Alberta
    English

    Other resources to help

    Other organizations may also provide family court workers/counsellors, depending on the area of the province. These include: Native Counselling Services, the John Howard Society, and the Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic / Women’s Outreach Court Preparation Program. For more information about these programs, as well as other organizations that might provide similar services, see the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page.

    Asking for an adjournment

    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 well in advance of the court hearing date. For help with how to do that, you can contact the court clerks’ office.

    Web Provincial Court Locations & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    You must have a good reason to ask for an adjournment. The Court is not pleased if adjournments are just asked for 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.

    It is also possible to ask for an adjournment on the date of the court hearing. Judges often grant such adjournments, but not always. For example, judges may refuse an adjournment if they are concerned that one or both of you will be harmed by the adjournment, or if they feel that the adjournment option has been abused.

    To ask for the adjournment, arrive well before the scheduled start time. Tell the Clerk of the Court your name, what your matter is, and that you want to ask for an adjournment. The Clerk will then confirm when your request for an adjournment will he heard.

    Generally, when you ask for an adjournment, you must immediately decide on a new hearing date. Sometimes, however, you may not know when you will need the hearing. For example, you may need time to complete something, but are unsure how long that will take. If that is the case, you may be able to adjourn “sine die”: this means without a set date.

    Be Aware

    If you have a lawyer, adjournment requests may go a bit differently. The other party may ask for an adjournment that you do not want. But, your lawyer might have to agree to it, as long as no harm will come to you as the client. This may be required by the lawyer’s professional Code of Conduct.

    For more information about adjournments, see the following resource.

    PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
    Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
    English
    See p. 28.

    After the docket court hearing is over

    In most cases, when your court hearing is over, the Order granted by the judge will be typed up by the court clerk. It may be ready shortly after the hearing. If it is not, it will be mailed to you. It will also be mailed to any other parties. If one of the parties is represented by a lawyer, the judge may ask that lawyer to type it up.

    Once you have the Order, you may need to serve it on the other party—check with the court clerks. Remember, if you do have to serve the other party, you will also need to complete and file an Affidavit of Service.

    Asking for “costs” in docket court

    The party who was most “successful” at the court hearing may ask that the other party pay the costs involved with going to court. Although the Court can grant costs, this is not a very common thing.

    A few things to keep in mind are as follows.

    • Costs are not always awarded. Generally, they are kept for situations in which one side has been completely unreasonable or very difficult (this is called “vexatious”);
    • Costs awarded are never as much as the actual cost of going to court. Instead, the court generally gives a pre-set amount; and
    • Even if you are awarded costs, you still have the problem of actually getting that money paid to you. This may not be easy to get from someone who was unreasonable and vexatious in the first place.

    If you want to ask for costs, you simply ask for it in your Statement or Reply Statement and again at the end of the hearing. If you forgot to ask for it in your paperwork, you can try to ask for costs at the end of your hearing. However, the judge may not consider the request if it was not included in the paperwork. Sometimes a judge will grant costs, even if it was not requested. This could happen if the judge feels that one side has been unreasonable or vexatious.

    For more information about costs, see the following resources.


    Web How much can be payable for court costs in Alberta?
    Bayda Disability Law Firm
    English
    This is a private source. Learn more here.

    Video Costs in Family Law Cases
    Feldstein Family Law Group
    English
    This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
    Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)

    If you are the Recipient

    Once you have your court order (or a variation order), you may want to register your order with MEP. See the following resources for information about:

    • how to register your child support order;
    • all of MEP’s powers and abilities; and
    • steps you need to take and forms you may need to complete in order to have MEP enforce your Order.
    Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: How to register
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Making and receiving payments
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Receiving payments.”

    Web MEP forms
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recipient of support.”

    PDF Maintenance for Adult Children Information Sheet
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Be Aware

    Once your order is registered, both payors and recipients are required keep their contact information up-to-date with MEP. Also, payors must keep their employment, income, and other financial information current with MEP. For more information, see the following resource.

    Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Contact info.”

    MEP has policies that can affect your child support orders. For example:

    • MEP has a policy that says that it will not enforce child support for children over 22 years old unless the court order specifically requires that it do so. As a result, if you require MEP enforcement for support that is for a child over the age of 22, be sure to include it in your order; and
    • MEP has a policy that says that it will not enforce child care costs for children over age 12. As a result, if you require MEP enforcement for day care costs that are for a child over the age of 12, be sure to include it in your order.
    • MEP will only enforce section 7 expenses if the type of expense is clearly stated. If a term is not specific enough, MEP will ask you to complete a separate Section 7 Expenses Agreement. Or, MEP may ask you to have the court Order changed to clarify the section 7 expense.

    See the following resource for more information about MEP policies. You may wish to check with MEP for any policies that might affect your needs.

    If you are the Payor

    For general information about MEP, see the following resources.

    Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Making and receiving payments
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Making payments.”

    Web MEP forms
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Payor of support.”

    If you are making payments from outside Canada, see the following resource.

    If you have not made your support payments and now MEP is taking action to enforce the support order, you have 3 options to try to get some relief. These options are often combined to help avoid similar problems in the future.

    1. You can ask that your child support arrears be reduced or cancelled. For more information, see the “Asking for changes” section above.
    2. You can ask that your future child support payments be reduced. For more information, see the “Asking for changes” section above.
    3. You can ask for a “Stay of Enforcement” against MEP. This means you apply to have MEP not take action against you for your unpaid child support at this time. In other words, it delays MEP taking action against you, but does not cancel your arrears or change the child support order itself. To get a Stay of Enforcement, you will need to go to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

    For information about your options, see the following resources.


    PDF Statement of Finances: Information Sheet
    Government of Alberta
    English

    PDF Payment Arrangements for Arrears: Information Sheet
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Stay of Enforcement on Arrears.”


    Web Limit the collection of your support payments
    Government of Alberta
    English

    ​​​​​​
    Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program

    For information about registering with and using the Child Support Recalculation Program, see the following resources.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program
    Government of Alberta
    English




    PDF Child Support Recalculation Program: Info sheets
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Going to trial

    Not all cases go to trial, but some do. Going to trial is very different than going to other kinds of court hearings. There are different rules and procedures. It is also much more time-consuming and much more expensive. For information about going to trial, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Appealing a court order

    It is possible to appeal a court decision granted in the Provincial Court. This is true of both docket court and trial orders. You would have to appeal to the next highest court: the Court of Queen’s Bench.

    However, you cannot appeal a decision simply because you are not happy with it. You can only appeal if you believe the judge has made an error of law or a substantial error on the facts. Also, be aware that an appeal can only be made within 30 days of the order.

    For more information, see the following resource and the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Web Make an appeal at the Court of Queen's Bench
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Queen's Bench

    Learn more about going to the Court of Queen’s Bench to deal with your child support matters under the Family Law Act. See the sections below for information about:

    • Options for staying out of court (including consent orders)
    • Hiring a lawyer or representing yourself
    • The paperwork you need to file with the Court of Queen’s Bench
    • The basics about the court process and what to expect

    LegalAve provides general legal information, not legal advice. Learn more here.

    The Parenting After Separation (PAS) Course

    To start an action in the Court of Queen’s Bench, the Parenting After Separation (PAS) course is mandatory. This means you must take the course.

    You may attend PAS either online or in-person in some locations.

    Different locations may have different rules about whether or not you can register for the same session as the other party. If you do not want to register in the same session, that is always possible, or you may attend online.

    For current contact information and PAS registration, see the following resource.

    Web Parenting After Separation (PAS) course
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Out of court resolution options

    You do not have to go to court to solve your family law issues. It is possible to agree. Although court is an option, it is merely one option in a range of possibilities.

    You can agree on your own or with the help of a “third party.” A third party is a person who is not directly involved with the legal issue, but is connected to it in some other way. For example, professionals who work with families to sort through legal problems.

    Agreements

    The first out-of-court option is to come to an agreement on your own. This is sometimes called the “do-it-yourself” or the “kitchen table” option. Although this can work for many people, it does not work for all. In certain situations, such as in many cases of domestic violence, it may not be at all appropriate. For more information, see the Coming to an Agreement on Your Own Information Page.

    To make an agreement about child support, you will need to understand the law around child support and how to use the Guidelines. You will need to understand how to figure out the correct Guideline amount. For detailed information, see the Law tab of this Information Page.

    For more information about creating your own child support agreement, see the following resources.

    PDF Parenting After Separation (PAS) Parent's Guide
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See p. 48-49, 115-132.

    PDF Instructions: Child Support Data Sheets
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Child Support Agreements
    Government of Canada
    English

    Web Ententes de pension alimentaire pour enfants
    Government of Canada
    French



    PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
    Government of Alberta
    English



    Web Child & Spousal Support
    Student Legal Services of Edmonton
    English
    Web Agreements and Child Support
    Patriot Law Group
    English
    This is a private source. Learn more here.

    Mediation

    If you need a bit of help to resolve your issues, you can always use a mediator. In mediation, the decisions are still made by the parties. But they reach those decisions with the help of an independent and trained third party. The mediator does not take sides and does not make the decisions for you. For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

    Arbitration

    Arbitration also involves the help of an independent and trained third party. However, the third party is hired to make a decision. In other words, the arbitrator hears both sides, reviews documents and evidence, and comes up with a binding decision. For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

    Negotiating through lawyers

    “Negotiation” is a term used to describe any process where there is a “discussion” to resolve a disagreement or conflict. The goal of the discussion is to come to an agreement. This is different from simply “presenting sides” and having someone else make a decision for you. Coming to an agreement on your own and mediation are two forms of negotiation.

    You can also negotiate though lawyers. In fact, many family law cases are solved in this way. The parties resolve their issues before ever getting in front of a judge by suggesting different solutions through their lawyers. Most lawyers will try to negotiate before they decide to take the case to court.

    For more information, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

    Collaborative Family Law

    In Collaborative Family Law, each member of the separating couple hires a lawyer, and the couple and the lawyers agree to resolve all matters without going to court or threatening to go to court. For more information on how to find a Collaborative Family Law lawyer, see the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

    Agreements resulting from out-of-court options

    For any of these out-of-court options, the goal is to reach an agreement. This means that everyone involved will have worked out solutions for:

    • the issues you have now; and
    • how you will deal with future problems.

    Keep in mind that making agreements can be tricky and complex. There are many things to consider. For more information on the process and requirements of making an agreement, as well as things to watch out for, see the Coming to an Agreement on Your Own Information Page.

    Be Aware

    Courthouse staff and Resolution and Court Administration Services cannot help with the drafting or completion of the agreement.

    Turning your agreement into a consent order

    Having an agreement does not mean that the other party will necessarily follow that agreement. For that reason, once you have an agreement you may wish to take steps to make sure that your agreement can be enforced. There are two ways to make sure that a child support agreement can be enforced:

    1. You can have your agreement turned into a consent order. However, if you do not already have a Queen’s Bench file, you will need to open one in order to file your consent order. To do so, you will have to pay a filing fee. For more information about how to complete and file consent orders in Queen’s Bench, see the “Consent orders” section below.
    2. You can complete a “Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement” (MESA). By itself, a MESA is not a court order. However, it is a specific kind of Agreement that has a mandatory template form and required steps. For more information about how to complete and file Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements in Queen’s Bench, see the “Consent orders” section below.

    After you have your Consent Order: Registering your Order

    In order to enforce a child support order, turning your agreement into a consent order is only the first step. Once you have your court order, you must register it with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). For more detailed information about MEP’s requirements and processes, see the “Enforcing child support” section on the Law tab of this Information Page as well as the “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” section below.

    In addition, you may also be able to register your order with the Recalculation Program (RP), which is a program that adjusts the child support amount every year so that you do not have to go to court to do so. For more information on the RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    Government programs to help avoid court (but they may be mandatory, if you do go to court)

    Although these programs are provided by the Alberta Courts, a family does not necessarily have to be involved in a court action to use them. Part of the intent of these programs is to help keep people out of court, if possible.

    Be Aware

    These programs can become mandatory if they are ordered by a judge.

    Parenting After Separation for High Conflict Families (PASHC)

    This program is for parents who:

    • have already completed the PAS workshop; and
    • are still struggling to communicate with each other.

    It is a voluntary program. This program is currently only offered in Edmonton and Calgary. See the following resources for more information.


    Focus On Communication in Separation (FOCIS)

    FOCIS is a free, voluntary, 6-hour, skill-based communication course. Again, you do not have to be involved in a court process to take this course. See the FOCIS manual in the following resource.

    Presentation Focus on Communication in Separation
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Parents are not allowed to take the course together. Registration information is available in the following resource.

    Web Focus on Communication in Separation (FOCIS) course
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Caseflow conferencing

    This is a program that is available to parties without a lawyer who have filed their first court application, but have not yet gone before a judge. It is meant to help parties reach an agreement out of court, or to be better prepared when going to court.

    Caseflow conferencing is only available in some areas. Contact Resolution and Court Administration Services to see if it is required in your judicial centre.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    In some locations, the program is mandatory for anyone without a lawyer who is applying for parenting, guardianship, or contact. If you have a lawyer but would still like to use the program, you can request an appointment when filing your application. For more information on the program, see the following resources.

    PDF Caseflow Conference Program
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This resource refers to “Family Justice Services.” The name of this program has changed to Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Support in resolving parenting disputes
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you live in other areas of Alberta, other help may be available in your area. See the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below.

    Free family mediation

    Whether or not you have a court action started, you may use the Family Mediation Program offered by Resolution and Court Administration Services. Mediation aims to help you reach an agreement out of court about your separation issues. To qualify for free mediation:

    • one of the parties must make less than $40,000 a year; and
    • there must be at least one dependent child under 18 years old.

    This service is offered across the province. Where mediation is possible, it is greatly encouraged.

    For contact information and to register, see the following resource.

    Web Family mediation
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Dispute Resolution Officer / Child Support Resolution Officer (Edmonton and Calgary only)

    The Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) program is in Calgary, and the Child Support Resolution Officer (CSRO) program is in Edmonton. These programs are mandatory in the Court of Queen’s Bench, and available to parties without any court action started.

    These programs allow parties who want to apply for or change their child support to meet together with a “resolution officer.” This resolution officer is a family lawyer who will help the parties try to reach an agreement. If they can't reach an agreement, the lawyer will go over next steps. See the following resource for more information.

    Web Resolving child support disputes
    Government of Alberta
    English

    The paperwork required for these programs is different in Edmonton and Calgary.

    • If you want to attend in Edmonton, see this resource for more information:
    PDF Child Support Resolution Project (Edmonton)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    • If you want to attend in Calgary, see this resource for more information:
    PDF Dispute Resolution Officer Program (Calgary)
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Child Support Services

    Alberta Human Services provides child support assistance to low-income families who are receiving the following services:

    • Income Support,
    • Alberta Adult Health Benefit, or
    • Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).

    For more information, see the following resources.

    Web Child Support Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    PDF Schedule A - Child Support Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
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    Hiring a lawyer or representing yourself?

    If you go to court, you can choose to either be represented by a lawyer, or to represent yourself. If you choose to represent yourself, you will be called a “self-represented litigant.”

    Hiring a lawyer

    If you hire a lawyer, your lawyer will explain to you what is happening with your case and why. A lawyer can help you reach an out-of-court agreement, or represent you in court

    However, even if you do have a lawyer, you may wish to continue reading this (and other Information Pages) to educate yourself further.

    For more information about your options for legal representation and other legal help, see the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page and the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

    Representing yourself

    As a self-represented litigant, you can find some help at Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS). But there is generally less help available in the Court of Queen’s Bench than there is in the Provincial Court. You can contact RCAS to see what help they recommend.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Also, you may be required to go through certain processes before your case can move forward. This depends on your judicial centre. For example:

    • You may have to go through the triage process (see the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below).
    • You may need to have a formal intake appointment before you are allowed to file any court documents (see the “Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services” section below).
    • You may have to take part in caseflow conferencing (see the “Government programs to help avoid court” section above).

    In some courthouses, you may have the option of speaking with “duty counsel.” Duty counsel are volunteer lawyers who will discuss your legal issue with you for free. This can include what the judge may think of your requests and the “merits of your claim.” There are no income restrictions to speak with duty counsel, but the service is limited. They are only at certain courthouses on certain days. Also, there may be many people waiting to speak with them. If you need to speak to duty counsel, make sure you get to the courthouse early. Check with your judicial centre to verify the times and days duty counsel will be available.

    For information about what matters duty counsel can help with, and which judicial centres have duty counsel available, see the following resource.

    Web Duty Counsel - Legal Assistance at Court
    Legal Aid Alberta
    English

    The Court of Queen’s Bench has created a Court Procedure Booklet that has helpful information.

    Help from Resolution and Court Administration Services

    Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS) is a group of programs and services offered by the Alberta government to help people resolve their legal matters. RCAS staff:

    • help you stay out of court when possible;
    • help with the court process and forms if you go to court; and
    • offer free or low-cost programs to help families with the legal system.

    For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Be Aware

    These services used to be called Family Justice Services, Family Law Information Centres, and Law Information Centres. They are now together as a single point of contact to help Albertans with legal matters. However, you might still see some resources that call those services by their old names.

    If you choose to go to court, some RCAS services might be mandatory. This means that you must use those services. This can depend on where you live and what kinds of issues you are taking to court.

    In some locations, all self-represented litigants must first go through “triage services” before doing anything else. At triage, you will:

    • meet with RCAS staff for about 10 minutes to see what your next steps should be;
    • be referred to different services based on your needs;
    • be told what steps you can take next; and
    • schedule an intake appointment if needed (see below).

    In many locations, self-represented litigants will have the option to go through an intake process. In some locations it is mandatory. At intake, RCAS staff will discuss your options with you. This may include a referral to court-supported family mediation when appropriate. See the following resources for more information.

    Web Family court assistance
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Intake Services (Alberta)
    Government of Canada
    English

    In some locations, RCAS staff also:

    • provide caseflow conferencing (see the “Government programs to help avoid court” section above);
    • help you review your documents before you file; and
    • provide family court counsellors (FCCs) who help you learn about the court process and present the facts to the judge.

    For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Before you go to court: Get to know the court system

    Before filing any documents, you will need to learn about the court process. It is not simple and there are many rules. If you represent yourself, you will need to follow the required processes and the rules.

    Paying fees

    When you start or respond to a court action, there is often a filing fee that must be paid. There can also be fees for additional applications related to your case. For a current list of fees and options if you can’t afford the fees, see the following resources.

    Web Court fees
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Waiving a filing fee
    Government of Alberta
    English

    PDF Court Fees & Waivers in Alberta
    Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
    English

    Chambers

    Family court matters are not like you see on television. They do not usually go straight to trial. Instead, many matters are resolved in “chambers.” Chambers is where Queen’s Bench “pre-trial” hearings take place. These hearings are in courtrooms that are open to the public, where the judge hears a list of different cases by different people. Yours is one case on the list.

    In family law, there are 2 kinds of chambers:

    • regular chambers (sometimes called “morning chambers”); and
    • special chambers (sometimes called “afternoon chambers”).

    Regular chambers is meant for simpler matters that can be heard in 20 minutes (10 minutes for each party to present his or her case). Special chambers is for more complex matters that need more time. For more information about chambers, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Be Aware

    The rules for regular chambers are very different than the rules for special chambers. For example: in special chambers, the parties must send in a specific document called a “confirming letter.” Also, there are very detailed and strict rules about scheduling, paperwork, and deadlines. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource.

    Judges in chambers can give various kinds of orders. For example, they can:

    • Make orders that deal with procedures and rules. For example, if you request an exception to a particular court rule. This means you are asking for permission to not follow that rule.

    • Make “interim orders.” Interim orders are “temporary” orders, meant to provide short-term solutions while the parties work out longer-term plans. Interim orders can be for a set period of time. Or they may have no set ending time.

    • Make “orders” about family law matters (such as issues about child support). These orders are generally not the final decision in a matter. Usually, a final decision comes only after trial. That decision is called a “judgment.” However, many parties choose to never go to trial. Instead they just accept the orders granted in applications as a permanent solution. They never go to trial and get a final “judgment.”

    Some separating couples can resolve their issues in chambers. They move forward without ever needing to go to trial. Other couples need to go to trial to resolve their issues (sometimes all of their issues, sometimes only some of them).

    For more information on the court process, including chambers, interim orders, and going to trial, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Queen’s Bench “Practice Notes”

    “Practice Notes” are additional rules issued by the Court, often about court procedures. These rules apply only in the Court of Queen’s Bench (not in Provincial Court). These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For a list of the Practice Notes about family law, see the following resource..

    Web Court of Queen's Bench: Practice Notes
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Click on the “Family” tab.

    Scheduling hearings and giving notice to the other party

    The sections below will explain all of the paperwork that needs to be completed for chambers hearings. You will learn that there are rules about:

    • how to schedule hearing dates; and
    • when you have to let the other party know about the application. This is called “giving notice.”

    The court has these rules to make sure that everyone has enough time to prepare for court and no one is taken by surprise. This leads to fairer results.

    Because of this, courts are quite strict about the rules. However, sometimes there are good reasons to not follow the rules. In such cases, you may want to ask for an “exception” to the rules. This means you are asking for permission to not follow the rules.

    For example, it may be possible to:

    • get time limits shortened for giving notice to the other party (this is also called “abridging” the time); and
    • get court dates moved up to an earlier date.
    Be Aware

    These changes in the rules are for special situations. There must be a very good reason to request an exception. Also, if you ask for an exception, there are very specific steps that you must follow.

    Also, in some cases it is possible to make an application without giving any notice to the other party. This is called making an “ex parte” application. For example, this can happen:

    • if you cannot find the other party, or
    • when your safety (or your children’s safety) may be at risk if you give the other party notice ahead of time.
    Be Aware

    The scheduling requirements for regular chambers are very different than the rules for special chambers, and the Court is very strict about them. These requirements are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource.

    The court is quite strict about the rules. However, like most things in life, sometimes exceptions are needed.

    Therefore it may be possible to:

    • get time limits shortened for giving notice to the other party (this is also called "abridging" the time); and
    • get court dates moved up to an earlier date.
    Be Aware

    These are the exception, not the rule, and there must be a very good reason to request such an exception. In addition, if you ask for an exception, there are procedures that must be followed, such as asking for the court’s permission.

    Also, in some cases it is possible to make an application without giving any notice to the other party. This is called making an “ex parte” application. For example, this can happen if you cannot find the other party, or in cases where your safety (or your children’s safety) may be at risk if you give the other party notice ahead of time.

    For information about whether you can ask for any of these exceptions, contact the Court of Queen’s Bench in your judicial centre, or ask at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Filing court paperwork for the first time

    If you cannot resolve your issues out of court, either you or your former partner can start a court action. This means that one of you will have to file the first set of paperwork, and the other will file the first response.

    The information in this section is for the partner who fills out the very first set of paperwork that starts a brand new action. This is called an “initial” application.

    “Initial” applications are also used in situations where you are asking for something that is completely new. It is not related to any court action that you might have already started about a different matter. This is different from asking the court to change the terms in a previous court order—that is called a “variation.” For information about variations, see the “Asking for changes to a previous court order” section below.

    All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Remember

    Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

    Before you go to court: Is this the right court to file in?

    To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

    Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

    Or should you be making your application in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

    If Alberta is the correct province, is this the right level of court?

    Are you asking for something that can only be heard in the Court of Queen’s Bench? Or do you think your former partner might ask for one of those things? If not, have you considered whether there might be a reason to file in Provincial Court instead? For information on the differences between Provincial Court and Queen’s Bench, and why you might have to choose one over the other, see the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

    Is this the right judicial centre?

    Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). The general rule is that a person must file their documents and go to court in the judicial centre where they live.   

    If this is your first application related to the breakdown in the relationship, you will file it in the judicial centre where you live.

    Perhaps this is your first application on this topic, but there has already been a different application related to the relationship breakdown. If that is the case, there is already a court file in the judicial centre where that other application was made. The rule in Queen’s Bench is that once a court file is started, any additional documents must be filed in the judicial centre where the court file is located.

    For example:

    • You used to live in Fort McMurray.
    • Some previous court documents about the relationship breakdown were filed in Fort McMurray.
    • As a result, there is already a court file in Fort McMurray related to the breakdown of this relationship.
    • Now you live in Lethbridge.
    • You will likely still have to make this new application in Fort McMurray.

    If you have questions about where you should apply, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    It may be possible to move your file. You would need to make a court application in the judicial centre where your court file is located. The judge may or may not allow the transfer. If you want to apply to transfer the file, use the following kit.

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Is/was there domestic violence?

    If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

    For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

    Presentation Overview of Family Law
    YWCA Canada
    English

    For more information, see the Family Violence and the Legal Process Information Page.

    If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

    Completing the Claim

    Under the Family Law Act, every time you ask for a new court hearing, you have to complete a Claim form. This is a general form that sets out some basic information and will include the date and time of the hearing.

    Remember

    In some judicial centres, before filing your Claim you must first have an intake appointment at Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS). Contact RCAS for more information.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    To file a Claim, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Claim - Family Law Act (Form FL-10 / CTS3459)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    When you file a Claim, you must also file a “Statement” for each topic that you want the judge to decide about. This is also called the “relief” that you are asking for. For example: there are separate Statements for parenting, child support, and partner support. Each kind of relief has its own Statement.

    It is important that you know the topics you want decided, because you cannot simply add another topic at the court hearing. Instead, you would have to file another Claim

    Are you asking for something “temporary”?

    Sometimes, when you go to court in a family matter, you start by asking for a short-term (or “temporary”) solution. You plan to go back to court later to get a more permanent arrangement. In some of the resources on this Information Page, these temporary orders are also called “interim” or “interlocutory” orders.

    The purpose of these orders is to put things in place while the court action continues. It can take quite a lot of time for the Court to fully consider all of the issues and make more long-term decisions. Temporary orders may be needed for child support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent child support order.

    Family Violence

    Interim orders are also quite common in cases involving family violence. Sometimes, they are required because the situation is an emergency. In such a case you might be able to get the interim order without even giving notice to the other parent/guardian. This is called an “ex parte” order.

    For more information on interim orders, including ex parte orders, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    In situations where the order is intended to be short term, it is important that your Statement:

    • says that you are asking for a temporary order;
    • explains what you want; and
    • tells why you want it.

    This is especially important if the request is for something unusual, or something that the Court might normally reject. There is more information about Statements below.

    If you get a temporary order, you can expect to go back to court in the future about this. In fact, the first Order will often include the next hearing date. This next hearing date is when the matter will be heard to see if changes are required and a more permanent order can be made.

    If you need to change a temporary order before the next scheduled hearing, you will need to apply to have the hearing date moved up. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

     

    The issue of parentage

    Sometimes, people want or need a court order declaring parentage (in other words, declaring who is the father of the child). For example: if they want to add or change the name of the father on the child’s birth certificate. Getting a “Declaration of Parentage” is a specific application process that can only be done in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

    When making an application for child support, the issue of parentage may come up. For example:

    • if you think that you are the biological parent of the child and the other parent claims that you are not; or
    • if you think that someone is a biological parent of a child and that person denies being the biological parent.

    For the purposes of a child support application, the Court does not require a formal application for a “Declaration of Parentage.” In other words, if child support is the only child-related issue the Court is dealing with, the Court (either Queen’s Bench or Provincial Court) can hear the application, decide whether a person is the parent of the child, and award child support if needed. In general, this means that the court will order a DNA test and decide about child support after seeing the results of the DNA test. However, a court can make a finding of parentage for child support purposes without first requiring a DNA test (but this is not common).

    To address the issue of parentage as part of your child support application, you do not need any special paperwork. Simply include the information in your “Statement - Child Support” (see below).

    On the other hand, if you do want or need to apply for a Declaration of Parentage, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Statement - Parentage (Form FL-55 / CTS3506)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Child support and financial information: Understanding “disclosure”

    Before you can get a court order for child support, you will need to give the Court certain financial information. This is needed for the Court to determine how much child support must be paid under the Child Support Guidelines. Both parties must give their financial information to the Court. This is called “financial disclosure.”

    The financial information that must be given is listed in section 21 of the Child Support Guidelines. This includes:

    • your income tax returns for the last 3 years;
    • your Notices of Assessment for the last 3 years;
    • proof of your current income from this year (such as pay stubs); and
    • a list of section 7 expenses (see the Law tab of this Information Page for more information).

    A “tax return” is all of the paperwork you send to Canada Revenue Agency when you do your taxes every year. A “Notice of Assessment” is the paperwork that Canada Revenue Agency then sends back to you with a summary of the information in your tax return. Your Notice of Assessment explains if you are getting a refund or if you owe any taxes.

    For examples of what these documents look like, see the following resources.


    Web Income Tax Notice Of Assessment
    Dominion Lending Centres Inc.
    English
    This is a private source. Learn more here.
     

    For information about how to complete a tax return and get a copy of a Notice of Assessment, see the following resources.

    Web All about your tax return
    Government of Canada
    English
    See “Completing a tax return” and “How to obtain a copy of your notice of assessment or reassessment.'

    Web Tout sur votre déclaration de revenus
    Government of Canada
    French
    Voir : “Remplir une déclaration de revenus” et “Comment obtenir une copie de votre avis de cotisation ou de nouvelle cotisation.”
     

    However, this is not all of the information that must be provided. There is much more information that must be included. The exact information you need to provide depends on your situation.

    For a complete list of the income information that is required, see the following resources.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench: Providing Financial Disclosure
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See p. 12-13: “Section 21 Alberta Child Support Guidelines.”

    Web Financial Information Required for Determination of Income for Child and Spousal Support
    Blair Corkum Financial Planning Inc.
    English
    This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

    Applying for financial disclosure only: The “Notice to Disclose” form

    Applicants will usually deal with financial disclosure at the same time as they apply for child support. However, in some cases, Applicants may want to see this financial information before deciding if they will apply for child support.

    This is more complicated and takes more time than applying all at once. It is done by using a specific kind of Application called a “Notice to Disclose.” A Notice to Disclose requires your former partner to give you detailed financial information within one month. You can use this information to decide if you want to ask the Court to make an order about child support.

    The following paragraphs describe how to file a Notice to Disclose on its own. You would do this if you are not applying for child support at this time, but you still want financial information from your former partner. If you want to ask for the financial information at the same time as you make your first application for child support, see the “Applying for child support and dealing with financial disclosure at the same time” heading below.

    To ask for financial disclosure using a Notice to Disclose, use the following package. Be sure to check off the box for every kind of information that you need. If a box is not checked off, your former partner does not need to give you that information.

    As part of the process of getting financial disclosure, you must give your former partner the same financial information. To do so, use the following package.

    All of the above forms must be filed with the Court. They must also then be served on your former partner. This means that they must be delivered in person. To prove that your former partner was served with all of these documents, the person who served them will need to file an Affidavit of Service with the Court.

     

    When you file a Notice to Disclose, you are also setting up a chambers hearing date. If your former partner has not given you the financial information by the date of that hearing, the Court can take action to get the information (either from your former partner or from his or her employer). The Court can also charge fines. On the other hand, if you get all of the information that you asked for before the hearing date, you can cancel the hearing—call the Court to do that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Be Aware

    You can also adjourn (delay) the hearing if you need to. For example, if your former partner is self-employed, and there are many documents you need to go through to see if it is complete. To ask for an adjournment, you would also call the Court.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
     

    Example

    • You file a Notice to Disclose with the Court on its own. You serve it on your former partner on September 30. You must include your own financial information.
    • Your former partner has until October 30 to give you his or her financial information. The hearing is scheduled for October 31.
    • You complete the Affidavit of Service and file it with the Court, also before October 30.
    • If both sets of financial information are exchanged by October 30, you call the Court to cancel the hearing.
    • If both sets of financial information are not exchanged by October 30, you go to the hearing on October 31.
    Be Aware

    The fines for not providing financial information within the month given in the Notice to Disclose can be quite large. They can sometimes be hundreds of dollars per day for each day that you are late. Also, the Court may consider these fines as unpaid child support, if one of the parties asks. If that happens, these fines can be enforced by the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). This can lead to further actions being taken against the person who does not disclose the financial information. For more information about the things MEP can do, see the “Enforcing child support” section on the Law tab of this Information Page.

    Applying for child support and dealing with financial disclosure at the same time

    To ask for child support, you will need to complete the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Statement - Child Support (Form FL-45 / CTS3469)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    For examples of what information to include in your Statement about child support, see the following resource.

    PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
    Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
    English
    This booklet talks about “Affidavits,” but the same information applies to “Statements” as well. See p. 24-27.

    You can also include calculations that show what you think your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

    PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
    Government of Alberta
    English

    When you apply for child support, you must provide income information about yourself (called “financial disclosure”). If you do not give the Court your financial disclosure, you will not be allowed to file your Claim.

    Be Aware

    In very rare circumstances, it may be possible to apply for child support without the required financial information. However, you will first have to apply to the Court for special permission. The legal term for this is “applying for a fiat.” This is a complicated procedure. For more information, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    To give the Court your financial disclosure, use the following package.

    Your former partner is also required to give financial disclosure to the Court.

    If you already have this information from your former partner, you can include it in your Statement. For example: you may have asked for it and your former partner has already given it to you.

    If your former partner has not yet given you the information, he or she will have to give it to the Court as part of the Response.

    • If your former partner lives in Canada or the United States, he or she must give the Court the financial information within 30 days of being served with your Claim.
    • If your former partner lives somewhere other than Canada or the United States, he or she must give the Court the financial information within 60 days of being served with your Claim.

    If your former partner does not give the Court the financial information in time, the hearing may go ahead and the Court can “impute” income. This means that the Court can simply assign an amount of income to your former partner. Also, if the Court imputes income:

    • your former partner would not be allowed to change the child support amount until he or she gives the Court all of the financial information that is required;
    • your former partner may have to pay “costs” (see the “Asking for costs” section below for information about this); and
    • your former partner may not be allowed to make any other applications about separation-related matters until he or she has provided the required financial information.

    In your Statement, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”
     
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the length of Statements and the kind of evidence that can go in them. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. If you want to ask for an exception to these rules, you will need ask permission of the court. There is a very specific procedure for doing that. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen’s Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Statements” as well.
     
    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Completing Statements for other matters in dispute

    When you are filing the paperwork about child support, you may also wish to file Statements about other issues related to your separation. The required forms can be found on the Information Pages for each topic.

    Getting the paperwork checked over

    Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    “Swearing” the paperwork

    Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    “Filing” the paperwork and choosing a court date

    To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Court of Queen’s Bench in the correct judicial centre.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    At the courthouse, and with the help of a court clerk, you will be able to pick a court date. When choosing a date, you will need to factor in the time that you will need to “serve” the other party with the paperwork (next step). You will also need to give the other party enough time to respond to your application.

    Your matter will be scheduled in “chambers.” This is where one judge sits in an open courtroom (meaning anyone can come in) and hears a list of different matters by different people. Yours is just one case on the list.

    Depending on your location and the amount of time your matter is expected to take, you may have to appear in regular chambers (also called “morning” chambers) or in special chambers (also called “afternoon” chambers).

    • Regular chambers is for matters where each party can present their side in 10 minutes or less (for a total of 20 minutes).
    • Special chambers is for matters that require more than 20 minutes in total.

    The court clerk will help you figure out what time you are to appear.

    Be Aware

    The rules for regular chambers are very different than the rules for special chambers. For example: in special chambers, the parties must send in a specific document called a “confirming letter.” Also, there are very detailed and strict rules about scheduling, statements, and filing deadlines. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource.

    After you have picked a court date, write down the court date on the first page of all of the copies of your claim. The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

    “Serving” the paperwork

    Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed and filed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is to notify the other party that a hearing is taking place. This means you have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter. For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    However, there are certain very limited situations in which the other party does not need to be notified of the hearing. This is called an “ex parte” hearing. For more information on these situations, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    There are time limits in which you must complete the service:

    • If the service takes place in Alberta, the service must be completed 20 days or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing).
    • If the service takes place outside of Alberta (but still in Canada), the service must be completed one month or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Alberta, you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
    • If the service takes place outside of Canada, the service must be completed two months or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Canada you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
    Be Aware

    If the person you are serving lives permanently outside of Alberta, you may want to proceed with your child support application as an Interjurisdictional Support Order. For information about that, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

    “Proving” that the paperwork was served

    It is not enough for you to just serve the other party. You must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form must be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

    PDF Affidavit of Service - Applicant (CTS3513)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Get ready for the response

    Before the court date, the other party will be serving you with his or her response. Be aware that there are time limits in which the other party must respond (see the “Responding to court paperwork for the first time” section below). You will need to read his or her paperwork to ensure that you are ready for your court date. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process.

    PDF Family Law Act Procedure
    Government of Alberta
    English

    When you filed your Claim and Statements, you were given a court date and time. You need to be there on that day. For information on going to court, see the “Going to and being in chambers” section below.

    Do you need to respond to your former partner’s Response?

    Sometimes, between the time you first file your paperwork and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change to deal with. You may need to:

    • update some facts about you, such as a change of income or contact details;
    • respond to some updated facts given by the other party; or
    • add something that is related to the relief that you are asking for. For example: you are applying for parenting, but now you have booked a trip. You realize that you have to ask about travel consent as well.

    If this occurs, you can let the Court know by filing an “Update Statement.” The form you will need is below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

    If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain:

    • how the information is new; and
    • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the number and length of Update Statements you are allowed in chambers. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen's Bench Chambers Clerk.

     
    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Supplemental Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Update Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to the other party. To find out the exact way to do this in your judicial centre, including what is considered a “reasonable time,” contact Resolution and Court Administration Services. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

    The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

    Be Aware

    Your former partner may also use an Update Statement to reply to your Update Statement.

    Questioning on Affidavit

    Before a chambers hearing, it is possible for either party to formally “question” the other party about some of the facts set out in that party’s paperwork. This is called “Questioning on Affidavit.” It is not that common in general, but it is more common for special chambers than for regular chambers. For more information about Questioning on Affidavit, including why either you or your former partner would do it and what exactly is involved, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Written interrogatories

    The term “written interrogatories” refers to written questions that one party sends to the other. The purpose is to get facts and answers that will be required in the hearing, and that can help to settle issues in general. One party sends the questions, and the other party must respond in an Affidavit so that the answers are properly sworn and can be included as evidence at the hearing.

    Written interrogatories are not that common for chambers applications. Most parties already provide the necessary facts and information required in their Affidavits. In addition, when going to chambers, there is often not enough time to complete this process. Written interrogatories are more common when the parties are going to trial. However, written interrogatories are useful when the other party may be trying to hold back information. For more information on written interrogatories and the processes to follow if you want to try to use them, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Responding to court paperwork for the first time

    If you have reached the point where your issues must be resolved through court, either you or your former partner can start a court action. This means either you or your former partner will have to file the first set of paperwork, and the other will file the first response.

    The information in this section is for the parent who responds to the very first set of paperwork.

    These “first-time” applications are also called “initial” applications. “Initial” applications are used in situations where the Applicant is asking for something that is completely new. It is not related to any court action already started about a different matter. This is different from asking the court to change the terms in a previous court order—that is called a “variation.” For information about variations, see the “Responding to a request for changes to a previous court order” section below.

    All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Remember

    Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

    Before you go to court: Is this in the right court?

    To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

    Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

    Perhaps the Applicant made a mistake? Should you be making your application in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

    If Alberta is the correct province, is it in the right level of court?

    You have been served with a Claim form and one or more Statement forms. The check box at the top of the Claim form will tell you in which court the Applicant filed their paperwork. Did they choose the right court? Are either of you asking for something that can only be heard in Queen’s Bench? If not, have you considered whether there might be a reason to file in Provincial Court instead? For more information on the differences between Provincial Court and Queen’s Bench, and why you might have to choose one over the other, see the Provincial Court of Alberta and the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Information Page.

    Did the Applicant choose the right judicial centre?

    Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). The general rule is that a person must file their documents and go to court in the judicial centre where they live.

    If this is the first application related to the breakdown in the relationship, the Applicant will have filed it in the judicial centre where they live.

    However, although this may be the first application on this topic, there may already have been a different application related to the relationship breakdown. If that is the case, the Applicant will likely have filed the application in the judicial centre where that other application was made. This is because, the rule in Queen’s Bench is that once a court file is started, any additional documents must be filed in the judicial centre where the court file is located.

    For example:

    • There was a previous application about the relationship breakdown in Fort McMurray.
    • The court file is in Fort McMurray.  
    • The Applicant lives in Grande Prairie.
    • However, the Applicant filed in Fort McMurray (where the court file is).
    • You are in Lethbridge.
    • You will have to respond in Fort McMurray.
    • If you want to transfer the file, you will have to apply in Fort McMurray to ask to have the file transferred to Lethbridge. That hearing will be in Fort McMurray. The judge may or may not allow the transfer.

    If you want to apply to transfer the file, use the following kit.

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you have questions about responding to the application, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Time limits

    Once you have been served with documents, you have to respond within a certain amount of time. You must file your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim. Anything less than 10 days’ notice will be presumed to be “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. In other words: it is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing.

    Be Aware

    There are other time limits for the financial disclosure that you must provide. You must follow these rules or there can be serious consequences. See the information about financial disclosure below.



    If for any reason you cannot file your Response within the time limits, you may still be able to file the documents late and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for, and that the judge will grant, an “adjournment” (a delay of your court date). This would be because your former partner did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing. Or the judge may give your former partner what he or she has asked for without taking your documents into consideration because they were not filed in time. However, you do have 30 days to provide your financial disclosure (see the information about financial disclosure below). So, if you have been served less than 30 days before the court date, you can ask the Court for extra time to file your Response.
    Be Aware

    For matters in special chambers, there are additional rules about response times and deadlines. These rules are very specific and strict, and they are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource.

    Is/was there domestic violence?

    If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

    For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

    Presentation Overview of Family Law
    YWCA Canada
    English

    For more information, see the Family Violence and the Legal Process Information Page.

    If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

    Completing the “Response”

    When your former partner filed for the first time, they filed a document called a “Claim.” Read the Claim carefully. You must respond to this Claim by filing a document called a Response.

    To file a Response, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Response - Family Law Act (Form FL-11 / CTS3460)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

     Fill in the information at the top of the Response form, then pay careful attention to the choices you are given.

    If you agree with everything that the Applicant asked for

    In this case, check the box on the Response form that says you agree and fill out the rest of the form.

    If you agree, but you also have other things that you want to ask for

    In this case, start by checking off on the Response form that you agree in Part 1.

    Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim.

    For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement. There must be a Statement form for each of the topics you checked off. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.

    If you do not agree AND you have other things that you want to ask for

    In this case, you will start by checking off in Part 1 of the Response form that you do not agree.

    Then, you will fill out a Reply Statement for each of the topics brought up by the Applicant. For example: if they included a “Statement - Child Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Child Support” (see below for direct link).

    Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim.

    For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement. There must be a Statement form for each of the topics you checked off. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.  

    Replying to the issue of parentage

    As part of the application for child support, the issue of parentage (in other words, who the father is) may also come up.

    If, as part of the child support application, your former partner has claimed that you are the biological parent and you believe that you are not, you can let the Court know in your “Reply Statement - Child Support” (see section immediately below).

    On the other hand, if your former partner has filed an application for a “Declaration of Parentage” claiming that you are the other biological parent (in other words, you have been served with a document called “Statement - Parentage”), and you believe that you are not the biological parent, you will need to reply by using the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Reply Statement - Parentage (Form FL-77 / CTS3507)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
    Be Aware

    In both situations, the Court may ask you to take a DNA test to prove that you are not the father. Although you do not have to take the DNA test, the Court can “make a finding” that you are the father without the a DNA test.

     

    Child support and financial information: Understanding “disclosure”

    Before anyone can get a court order for child support, the Court will need certain financial information. This is needed for the Court to determine how much child support must be paid under the Child Support Guidelines. Both parties must give their financial information to the Court. This is called “financial disclosure.”

    The financial information that must be given is listed in section 21 of the Child Support Guidelines. This includes:

    • your income tax returns for the last 3 years;
    • your Notices of Assessment for the last 3 years;
    • proof of your current income from this year (such as pay stubs); and
    • a list of section 7 expenses.

    A “tax return” is all of the paperwork you send to Canada Revenue Agency when you do your taxes every year. A “Notice of Assessment” is the paperwork that Canada Revenue Agency then sends back to you with a summary of the information in your tax return. Your Notice of Assessment explains if you are getting a refund or if you owe any taxes.

    For examples of what these documents look like, see the following resources.


    Web Income Tax Notice Of Assessment
    Dominion Lending Centres Inc.
    English
    This is a private source. Learn more here.

    For information about how to complete a tax return and get a copy of a Notice of Assessment, see the following resources.

    Web All about your tax return
    Government of Canada
    English
    See “Completing a tax return” and “How to obtain a copy of your notice of assessment or reassessment.”

    Web Tout sur votre déclaration de revenus
    Government of Canada
    French
    Voir : “Remplir une déclaration de revenus” et “Comment obtenir une copie de votre avis de cotisation ou de nouvelle cotisation.”
     

    However, this is not all of the information that must be provided. There is much more information that must be included. The exact information you need to provide depends on your situation.

    For a complete list of the income information that is required, see the following resources.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench: Providing Financial Disclosure
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See p. 12-13: “Section 21 Alberta Child Support Guidelines.”

    Web Financial Information Required for Determination of Income for Child and Spousal Support
    Blair Corkum Financial Planning Inc.
    English
    This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

    Responding to a request for financial disclosure only (the “Notice to Disclose”)

    Applicants will usually deal with financial disclosure at the same time as they apply for child support. However, in some cases, Applicants may want to see this financial information before deciding if they will apply for child support.

    This is more complicated and takes more time than applying all at once. It is done by using a specific kind of Application called a “Notice to Disclose.” A Notice to Disclose requires your former former to give you detailed financial information within one month.

    You may have been served with a “Notice to Disclose.” The following paragraphs describe how to respond to a Notice to Disclose on its own. For information about responding to a request for financial information that is part of an application for child support, see the “Completing a Reply Statement about child support with financial disclosure included” heading below.

    The Notice to Disclose will include a hearing date. You should carefully read your documents so that you know about your deadlines and any hearing dates.

    If you were served with a Notice to Disclose, you must give your financial information to your former partner within one month. If you do not, the Court may make an order to get the information from you or your employer, and they may charge you fines. If you give your financial information to your former partner within one month, the hearing can be cancelled.

    To respond to a Notice to Disclose, use the following package.

    All of the above forms must be filed with the Court. They must also then be served on your former partner. This means that they must be delivered in person. To prove that your former partner was served with all of these documents, the person who served them will need to file an Affidavit of Service with the Court.

    Be Aware

    Your former partner will have to give you his or her financial information before the court hearing as well.

    Example

    • You must give your former partner and the Court your financial information by October 30. You complete the Affidavit of Service and file it with the Court, also before October 30.
    • Your former partner must also give you his or her financial information by October 30. This may have been done at the time you were served with the Notice to Disclose.
    • If both sets of financial information are exchanged by October 30, the hearing may be cancelled by your former partner (to do this, he or she must call the Court).
    • If both sets of financial information are not exchanged by October 30, you go to the hearing on October 31.
    Be Aware

     The fines for not providing financial information within the month given in the Notice to Disclose can be quite large. They can sometimes be hundreds of dollars per day for each day that you are late. Also, the Court may consider these fines as unpaid child support, if one of the parties asks. If that happens, these fines can be enforced by the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP). This can lead to further actions being taken against the person who does not disclose the financial information. For more information about the things MEP can do, see the “Enforcing child support” section on the Law tab of this Information Page

    Completing a Reply Statement about child support with financial disclosure included

    To respond to a request for child support, you will need to complete the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Reply Statement - Child Support (Form FL-67 / CTS3481)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    You can also include calculations that show what you think you and/or your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

    PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
    Government of Alberta
    English

    To apply for child support, both parties must give the Court financial disclosure. If you have been served with an application for child support that includes a request for financial disclosure, you must provide financial disclosure. If you do not give the Court your financial information, you will not be allowed to file your Response.

    Be Aware

     In very rare circumstances, it may be possible to respond without the required financial information. However, you will first have to apply to the Court for special permission. The legal term for this is “applying for a fiat.” This is a complicated procedure. For more information, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    To give the Court your financial disclosure, you must use the following package.

    You must do this within a specific period of time:

    • If you live in Canada or the United States, you must give the Court your financial information within 30 days of being served with your former partner’s Claim.
    • If you live somewhere other than Canada or the United States, you must give the Court your financial information within 60 days of being served with your former partner’s Claim.

    If you do not give the Court your financial information in time, the hearing may go ahead and the Court can “impute” income. This means that the Court can simply assign an amount of income to you. Also, if the Court imputes income:

    • you may not be allowed to change the child support amount until you give the Court all of the financial information that is required;
    • you may have to pay “costs” (see the “Asking for costs” section below for information about this); and
    • you may not be allowed to make any other applications about separation-related matters until you have provided the required financial information.

    In your Reply Statement, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the length of Reply Statements and the kind of evidence that can go in them. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. If you want to ask for an exception to these rules, you will need ask permission of the court. There is a very specific procedure for doing that. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen’s Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Completing Reply Statements for other matters in dispute

    When you were served with your former partner’s Claim and Statements about guardianship and parenting, you may also have been served Statements about other issues related to your separation. The information about how to respond to those forms can be found on the Process tabs of the Information Pages for each topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

    If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements

    You may be asking for other topics to be addressed in addition to child support. If this is the case, you will have additional forms to fill out.

    If you are asking for something else that was not mentioned by the Applicant, you will complete a Statement for each topic. For example, you are asking for partner support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address child support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support.”

    For information and forms about all of these other topics, see the Information Page about that topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

    Getting the paperwork checked over

    Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

     

    “Swearing” the paperwork

    Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    “Filing” the paperwork

    To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Court of Queen’s Bench in the correct judicial centre.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

    “Serving” the paperwork

    Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is the same as you were served with their paperwork to begin with. You have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter.

    For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    id='Remember'It is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing. If you do not, you risk your matter being adjourned (delayed until a later date) because you did not give your former partner enough time to review your documents.

    “Proving” that the paperwork was served

    It is not enough for you to just serve the other party. You must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form must be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

    PDF Affidavit of Service - Respondent (Form CTS3514)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Watch for Update Statements

    Sometimes, between the time the first paperwork is filed and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change in some factual information about your former partner (such as a change of income or contact details). If this occurs, they will let the court know by filing something called an “Update Statement,” and you would be served with a copy.

    Or, there may be some important change in factual information about you, or an additional request related to child support, and you will need to let the court know by filling out an Update Statement of your own. The form you will need is below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Be aware that Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

    If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain

    • how the information is new; and
    • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the number and length of Update Statements you are allowed in chambers. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen's Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Supplemental Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Update Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

    The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

    Questioning on Affidavit

    Before a chambers hearing, it is possible for either party to formally “question” the other party about some of the facts set out in that party’s paperwork. This is called “Questioning on Affidavit.” It is not that common in general, but it is more common for special chambers than for regular chambers. For more information about Questioning on Affidavit, including why either you or your former partner would do it and what exactly is involved, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Written interrogatories

    The term “written interrogatories” refers to written questions that one party sends to the other. The purpose is to get facts and answers that will be required in the hearing, and that can help to settle issues in general. One party sends the questions, and the other party must respond in an Affidavit so that the answers are properly sworn and can be included as evidence at the hearing.

    Written interrogatories are not that common for chambers applications. Most parties already provide the necessary facts and information required in their Affidavits. In addition, when going to chambers, there is often not enough time to complete this process. Written interrogatories are more common when the parties are going to trial. However, written interrogatories are useful when the other party may be trying to hold back information. For more information on written interrogatories and the processes to follow if you want to try to use them, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Plan to go to the chambers hearing

    The Claim tells you when and where court will be held. Go to that hearing. If you do not go to court on that day, the court may make an order in your absence. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process, including what can happen if you do not respond in time.

    PDF Family Law Act Procedure
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Asking for changes to a previous court order (also called “variations”)

    As circumstances change, and your children age, you and/or your former partner may need or want to change the terms of a previous court order. If the order you want to change came from a previous application heard in chambers, you can ask for a “variation.”

    Remember

    You can also change your child support amount by using the Recalculation Program, if you are eligible and if it is appropriate. Before you file the court paperwork for a variation, take a moment to consider whether the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) might be a better option than going to court. For more information about the program, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page. For information about how to register with the RP see the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Remember

    Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Variation Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

    Before you go to court: Is this the right court to file in?

    To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

    Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

    Is it an Alberta court order that you are trying to change (“vary”)? Should the application be in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

    If Alberta is the correct province, is this the right level of court?

    Is it a Court of Queen’s Bench Order that you are trying to vary?

    Is this the right judicial centre?

    Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). If you are trying to vary a court order from Queen’s Bench, you will have to file your paperwork in the judicial centre where your court file is located. Check the last court document that was filed—it will note the judicial centre.

    You may want to apply to transfer the file. This application must be made in the judicial centre where your court file is located. The judge may or may not allow the transfer. If you want to apply to transfer your court file, use the following kit.

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing, and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you have questions about any of this, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Is/was there domestic violence?

    If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

    For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

    Presentation Overview of Family Law
    YWCA Canada
    English

    For more information, see the Family Violence and the Legal Process Information Page.

    If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

    Completing the Claim

    Under the Family Law Act, every time you ask for a new court hearing (including a request for a variation), you have to complete a Claim form. This is a general form that sets out some basic information. It will also include the date and time of the hearing.

    Remember

     

    In some judicial centres, before filing your Claim you must first have an intake appointment at Resolution and Court Administration Services (RCAS). Contact RCAS for more information.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    To file a Claim, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Claim - Family Law Act (Form FL-10 / CTS3459)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    When you file a Claim to vary a previous court order, you must also file a “Variation Statement” for each topic that you want the judge to decide about. This is also called the “relief” that you are asking for. For example: there are separate Variation Statements for parenting, child support, and partner support. Each kind of relief has its own Variation Statement.

    It is important that you know the topics you want decided, because you cannot simply add another topic at the court hearing. Instead, you would have to file another Claim.

    Are you asking for something “temporary”?

    Sometimes, when you go to court in a family matter, you start by asking for a short-term (or “temporary”) solution. You plan to go back to court later to get a more permanent arrangement. In some of the resources on this Information Page, these temporary orders are also called “interim” or “interlocutory” orders.

    The purpose of these orders is to put things in place while the court action continues. It can take quite a lot of time for the Court to fully consider all of the issues and make more long-term decisions. Temporary orders may be needed for child support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent child support order.

    Family Violence

    Interim orders are also quite common in cases involving family violence. Sometimes, they are required because the situation is an emergency. In such a case you might be able to get the interim order without even giving notice to the other parent/guardian. This is called an “ex parte” order.

    For more information on interim orders, including ex parte orders, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    In situations where the order is intended to be short term, it is important that your Statement:

    • says that you are asking for a temporary order;
    • explains what you want; and
    • tells why you want it.

    This is especially important if the request is for something unusual, or something that the Court might normally reject. There is more information about Statements below.

    If you get a temporary order, you can expect to go back to court in the future about this. In fact, the first Order will often include the next hearing date. This next hearing date is when the matter will be heard to see if changes are required and a more permanent order can be made.

    If you need to change a temporary order before the next scheduled hearing, you will need to apply to have the hearing date moved up. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Providing financial information

    Before you can file your request for a change in child support, both you and your former partner must give the Court certain financial information. This is needed for the Court to determine how much child support must be paid under the Child Support Guidelines.


    To refresh your memory about the financial information that you must give, see the “Child support and financial information” heading in the “Filing court paperwork for the first time” section above.

    Completing the Variation Statement about child support

    To change child support, there is a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting child support (the Recipient) or the person paying the child support (the Payor).

    If you are the recipient of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    If you are the recipient and you are asking for retroactive child support, you would still use this same form: just include all of the information required to make such a request.

    If you are the payor of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Payor's Statement - Vary Child Support (Form FL-47 / CTS3471)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    If you are the payor and you are asking to have your child support arrears reduced or cancelled, you would use this same form, but be sure to fill in the information required about arrears.

    Both of these child support statements also require calculations that show what you think your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

    PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
    Government of Alberta
    English

    In your Variation Statement, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”
    Be Aware

    If you had a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement and want or need to change the support amount (which can include reducing or cancelling arrears) and cannot agree on the changes with your former partner, you will need to make an application to the court. The form you will use depends on whether you are the payor of the support, or the recipient of the support:

    • If you are the payor, use the following form.
    • If you are the recipient, use the standard "Recipient's Statement" asking to vary child support (found immediately above).
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the length of Statements and the kind of evidence that can go in them. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. If you want to ask for an exception to these rules, you will need ask permission of the court. There is a very specific procedure for doing that. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen’s Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Completing Variation Statements for other matters in dispute

    When you are filing the paperwork for a variation of child support, you may also wish to file Statements to vary other separation-related issues as well. The required forms can be found on the Information Pages for each topic.

    Getting the paperwork checked over

    Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    “Swearing” the paperwork

    Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    “Filing” the paperwork and choosing a court date

    To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Court of Queen’s Bench in the correct judicial centre.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    At the courthouse, and with the help of a court clerk, you will be able to pick a court date. When choosing a date, you will need to factor in the time that you will need to “serve” the other party with the paperwork (next step). You will also need to give the other party enough time to respond to your application.

    Your matter will be scheduled in “chambers.” This is where one judge sits in an open courtroom (meaning anyone can come in) and hears a list of different matters by different people. Yours is just one case on the list.

    Depending on your location and the amount of time your matter is expected to take, you may have to appear in regular chambers (also called “morning” chambers) or in special chambers (also called “afternoon” chambers).

    • Regular chambers is for matters where each party can present their side in 10 minutes or less (for a total of 20 minutes).
    • Special chambers is for matters that require more than 20 minutes in total.

    The court clerk will help you figure out what time you are to appear.

    Be Aware

    The rules for regular chambers are very different than the rules for special chambers. For example: in special chambers, the parties must send in a specific document called a “confirming letter.” Also, there are very detailed and strict rules about scheduling, paperwork, and deadlines. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource.

    After you have been given a court date, write down the court date on the first page of all of the copies of your claim. The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

    “Serving” the paperwork

    Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed and filed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is to notify the other party that a hearing is taking place. This means you have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter. For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    However, there are certain very limited situations in which the other party does not need to be notified of the hearing. This is called an “ex parte” hearing. For more information on these situations, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    There are time limits in which you must complete the service:

    • If the service takes place in Alberta, the service must be completed 20 days or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing).
    • If the service takes place outside of Alberta (but still in Canada), the service must be completed one month or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Alberta, you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
    • If the service takes place outside of Canada, the service must be completed two months or more before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim (you do not count the date of the hearing). However, before serving outside of Canada you will need to get permission from the Court. This is called an “Order for Service Ex Juris.” For more information about how to get this, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.
    Be Aware

    If the person you are serving lives permanently outside of Alberta, you may want to proceed with your child support application as an Interjurisdictional Support Order. For information about that, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

    “Proving” that the paperwork was served

    It is not enough for you to just serve the other party. You must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form must be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date.

    PDF Affidavit of Service - Applicant (CTS3513)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Get ready for the response

    Before the court date, the other party will be serving you with his or her Response. Be aware that there are time limits in which the other party must respond (see the “Responding to a request for changes” section below). You will need to read his or her paperwork to ensure that you are ready for your court date. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process

    PDF Family Law Act Procedure
    Government of Alberta
    English

    When you filed your Claim and Statements, you were given a court date and time. You need to be there on that day. For more information on going to court, see the “Going to and being in chambers” section below

    Do you need to respond to your former partner’s Response?

    Sometimes, between the time you first file your paperwork and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change to deal with. You may need to:

    • update some facts about you, such as a change of income or contact details;
    • respond to some updated facts given by the other party; or
    • add something that is related to the relief that you are asking for. For example: you are applying for parenting, but now you have booked a trip. You realize that you have to ask about travel consent as well.

    If this occurs, you can let the Court know by filing an “Update Statement.” The form you will need is below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

    If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain:

    • how the information is new; and
    • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the number and length of Update Statements you are allowed in chambers. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen's Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Supplemental Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Update Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to the other party. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

    The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

    Be Aware

    Your former partner may also use an Update Statement to reply to your Update Statement.

    Questioning on Affidavit

    Before a chambers hearing, it is possible for either party to formally “question” the other party about some of the facts set out in that party’s paperwork. This is called “Questioning on Affidavit.” It is not that common in general, but it is more common for special chambers than for regular chambers. For more information about Questioning on Affidavit, including why either you or your former partner would do it and what exactly is involved, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Written interrogatories

    The term “written interrogatories” refers to written questions that one party sends to the other. The purpose is to get facts and answers that will be required in the hearing, and that can help to settle issues in general. One party sends the questions, and the other party must respond in an Affidavit so that the answers are properly sworn and can be included as evidence at the hearing.

    Written interrogatories are not that common for chambers applications. Most parties already provide the necessary facts and information required in their Affidavits. In addition, when going to chambers, there is often not enough time to complete this process. Written interrogatories are more common when the parties are going to trial. However, written interrogatories are useful when the other party may be trying to hold back information. For more information on written interrogatories and the processes to follow if you want to try to use them, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Responding to a request for changes (“variations”) to court orders

    If you have been served with paperwork in which the other parent/guardian (who is known as “the Applicant”) asks for changes to child support, you will need to file documents to respond.

    All of the links below take you to an electronic version of the forms (where available). You can also get paper copies of all of these forms at Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Remember

    Just because you have started the court process does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything through court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Variation Order. For more information about how to do this, see the “Consent orders” section below.

    Before you go to court: Is this in the right court?

    To determine this, there are several issues to consider.

    Is Alberta the right province in which to go to court?

    Perhaps the Applicant made a mistake? Should your matter be heard in a different province or a different country? For more information, see the Family Breakdown and Out-of-Province Issues Information Page.

    If Alberta is the correct province, is it in the right level of court?

    You have been served with a Claim form and one or more Statement forms. The check box at the top of the Claim form will tell you in which court the Applicant filed their paperwork. Did they choose the right court? Is it a Queen’s Bench order that is being varied?

    Did the Applicant choose the right judicial centre?

    Alberta is divided into several areas called “judicial centres” (previously called “judicial districts”). An application to vary a court order from Queen’s Bench must be filed in the judicial centre where your court file is located. You can check the last court document that was filed—it will note the judicial centre. Unless the Applicant made an error, you must respond in the same judicial centre where the application was made.

    For example:

    • The court file is in Fort McMurray and the Applicant filed this request for a variation there.
    • You are now in Lethbridge.
    • You must respond in Fort McMurray. Or, you may want to try to transfer the file. You will have to apply in Fort McMurray to have the file transferred to Lethbridge. The judge may or may not allow the transfer.

    If you want to apply to transfer the court file, use the following kit.

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you have questions about any of this, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Time limits

    Once you have been served with documents, you have to respond within a certain amount of time. You must file your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing set out in the Claim. Anything less than 10 days’ notice will be presumed to be “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. In other words: it is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing.

    Be Aware

    There are other time limits for the financial disclosure that you must provide. You must follow these rules or there can be serious consequences. See the information about financial disclosure below.

    If for any reason you cannot serve within that time limit, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing. Or the judge may give your former partner what he or she has asked for without taking your documents into consideration because they were not filed in time. However, you do have 30 days to provide your financial disclosure (see the information about financial disclosure below). So, if you have been served less than 30 days before the court date, you can ask the Court for extra time to file your Response.

    Be Aware

    For matters in special chambers, there are additional rules about response times and deadlines. These rules are very specific and strict, and they are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource.

    Is/was there domestic violence?

    If there is/was domestic violence in your family, you can bring it up in your court documents. This can be particularly important if the violence is the reason you are making certain requests.

    For information about how the presence of domestic violence can affect your paperwork, see the following resource.

    Presentation Overview of Family Law
    YWCA Canada
    English

    For more information, see the Family Violence and the Legal Process Information Page.

    If you want to apply for a protective order to help keep you safe, see the Protective Orders Information Page. The choices you make about protective orders may affect the process you need to follow with your other family law matters.

    Completing the “Response”

    When your former partner filed for the variation, they filed a special document called a “Claim.” Read the Claim carefully. You must respond to this Claim by filing a special document called a Response.

    To file a Response, use the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Response - Family Law Act (Form FL-11 / CTS3460)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Fill in the information at the top of the Response form, then pay careful attention to the choices you are given.

    If you agree with everything that the Applicant asked for

    In this case, check the box on the Response form that says you agree and fill out the rest of the form.

    If you agree, but you also have other things that you want to ask for

    In this case, start by checking off on the Response form that you agree in Part 1.

    Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim. For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement or a Variation Statement. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.

    If you do not agree AND you have other things that you want to ask for

    In this case, you will start by checking off in Part 1 of the Response form that you do not agree.

    Then, you will fill out a Variation Reply Statement for each of the topics brought up by the Applicant that you disagree with. For example: if they included a “Statement - Vary Child Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Vary Child Support.” See the heading below called “Completing the Variation Reply about child support” for more information.

    Then, you will check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is only for topics not already mentioned by the Applicant. In other words, do not check off boxes for topics that the Applicant has already checked off on their Claim. For each of the boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Statement or a Variation Statement. See the heading below called “If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements” for more information.

    Providing financial information

    When you are filing your Response for a change in child support, both you and your former partner must give the Court certain financial information. This is needed for the Court to determine how much child support must be paid under the Child Support Guidelines.

    To refresh your memory about the financial information that you must give, see the “Child support and financial information” heading in the “Responding to court paperwork for the first time” section above.

    Completing the Variation Reply about child support

    In order to respond to a request to vary the previous court order about child support, you have a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting child support (the Recipient) or the person paying child support (the Payor). Some of the information requested in each of the Statements may seem repetitive, but each Statement must be fully filled out.

    If you are the recipient of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    Tip

    If you, the recipient, are responding to a request by the payor to cancel or reduce child support arrears, you would use this same form.

    If you are the payor of the child support, you will fill out the following form. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    All of the child support Statements require calculations that show what you think your former partner should be paying. To do that, you will need the following form.

    PDF Summary of Child Support Guideline Calculations
    Government of Alberta
    English

    In your Variation Reply, be sure to indicate whether you want the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP) to recalculate child support or not—all court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the RP:

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”
    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the length of Reply Statements and the kind of evidence that can go in them. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. If you want to ask for an exception to these rules, you will need ask permission of the court. There is a very specific procedure for doing that. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen’s Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
    .

    Completing other Reply Statements

    The Applicant may be asking for other topics to be addressed along with changing the child support Order. If this is the case, you will have additional forms to fill out.

    If the Applicant is also asking to change other parts of an Order that you already have, you will complete a Variation Reply Statement for each topic. For example, if the Applicant filed a “Statement - Vary Parenting,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Vary Parenting.”

    If the Applicant is asking for something new in addition to the contact variation, you will complete a Reply Statement for each topic. For example, if the Applicant filed a “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Spousal/Partner Support.”

    For information and forms about all of these other topics, see the Information Page about that topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

    If you are making your own requests: Completing Statements

    You may be asking for other topics to be addressed along with the change in child support. If this is the case, you will have additional forms to fill out.

    If you are asking for a change to an Order you already have, and the topic was not mentioned by the Applicant, you will complete a Variation Statement for each topic. For example, if you want to change the amount of partner support being paid. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address changing the partner support. You would complete a “Statement - Vary Spousal/Partner Support.”

    If you are asking for something entirely new, and the topic was not mentioned by the Applicant, you will complete a Statement for each topic. For example, you are asking for partner support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address partner support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support.”

    For information and forms about all of these other topics, see the Information Page about that topic. There is a complete list on the Family Law Topics page.

    Getting the paperwork checked over

    Before you finalize all of your paperwork by “swearing” it (next step), you might want to have it checked over. This is to make sure that you have completed your paperwork in the way that the Court rules and directions require. This “check” is a very helpful step. If there is an error, your paperwork may be rejected and you might have to start all over again. It is much easier to have your paperwork checked before you complete the next steps. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    “Swearing” the paperwork

    Once your paperwork is filled out and checked over, you will need to complete it by properly “swearing” it. “Swearing” a document means that you are promising that everything in the document is true (as far as you know). Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For more information about what’s involved with this step, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    “Filing” the paperwork

    To file the paperwork, you must hand in the originals and multiple copies of everything. One copy of each document is for you and one is for any other parties. This includes Child Protective Services if they are involved in the case. You file the documents at the Court of Queen’s Bench in the correct judicial centre.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    The clerk will stamp and keep the original copies of all of your documents and will return the stamped copies to you. All documents must have a court stamp on them. These copies are what you will need for the next step.

    “Serving” the paperwork

    Once all of your paperwork is in order and properly signed, you will need to “serve” it on the other party. “Service” is the legal term for delivering certain kinds of documents. This is the same as you were served with their paperwork to begin with. You have to make sure that he or she gets the notice as soon as possible. This is also a very important step, because if the paperwork is not properly served, the judge might not hear your matter.

    For more information on how to serve documents, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    id='Remember'It is best to serve your former partner 10 days (or more) before the date of the hearing. If you do not, you risk your matter being adjourned (delayed until a later date) because you did not give your former partner enough time to review your documents.

    “Proving” that the paperwork was served

    It is not enough for you to just serve the other party: you must also prove that you served the other party. To do so, the person who served the paperwork must swear an Affidavit of Service. This form is to be completed by the person who completed the service, and filed before the court date. You will also need to bring a copy of this form with you to court.

    PDF Affidavit of Service - Respondent (Form CTS3514)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Watch for Update Statements

    Sometimes, between the time the first paperwork is filed and the date of the court hearing, there will be an important change in some factual information about your former partner (such as a change of income or contact details). If this occurs, he or she will let the court know by filing something called an “Update Statement,” and you would be served with a copy.

    Or, there may be some important change in factual information about you, or an additional request related to child support, and you will need to let the court know by filling out an Update Statement of your own. The form you will need is available below. For instructions on how to complete this form, click on the blue box called “Instruction” at the top of the form.

    PDF Update Statement (Form FL-79 / CTS3551)
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

    Update Statements are not intended to add information to your argument, or change your original requests in any way. They should only be used to update basic facts related to your case.

    If you fill out one of these Update Statements, you should explain:

    • how the information is new; and

    • why it was not available when you first completed your forms.

    Be Aware

    There are very detailed and strict rules about the number and length of Update Statements you are allowed in chambers. These rules are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following  resource and call your Court of Queen's Bench Chambers Clerk.

    PDF Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta: Family Law Practice Note 2 - Family Law Chambers
    Government of Alberta
    English
    This refers to “Supplemental Affidavits” but the rules apply to “Update Statements” as well.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    You will need to file and serve this document as well, so give yourself enough time. You must file and serve your documents “within a reasonable time” before the date of the hearing. If this is not done within a reasonable time, it may be considered “prejudicial” (meaning “harmful”) to your former partner. If you have any questions, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If for any reason you cannot serve within a reasonable time, you can still file the documents and appear at the court hearing. However, you risk that your former partner will ask for an “adjournment” (delaying the hearing until a later date) as he or she did not have enough time to prepare for the hearing.

    The use of Update Statements should be rare. The Court may limit the use of them if it feels that they are being used inappropriately.

    Questioning on Affidavit

    Before a chambers hearing, it is possible for either party to formally “question” the other party about some of the facts set out in that party’s paperwork. This is called “Questioning on Affidavit.” It is not that common in general, but it is more common for special chambers than for regular chambers. For more information about Questioning on Affidavit, including why either you or your former partner would do it and what exactly is involved, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Written interrogatories

    The term “written interrogatories” refers to written questions that one party sends to the other. The purpose is to get facts and answers that will be required in the hearing, and that can help to settle issues in general. One party sends the questions, and the other party must respond in an Affidavit so that the answers are properly sworn and can be included as evidence at the hearing.

    Written interrogatories are not that common for chambers applications. Most parties already provide the necessary facts and information required in their Affidavits. In addition, when going to chambers, there is often not enough time to complete this process. Written interrogatories are more common when the parties are going to trial. However, written interrogatories are useful when the other party may be trying to hold back information. For more information on written interrogatories and the processes to follow if you want to try to use them, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Plan to go to the chambers hearing

    The Application tells you when and where court will be held. Go to that hearing. If you do not go to court on that day, the court may make an order in your absence. See the following resource for a brief summary of the paper exchange process, including what can happen if you do not respond in time.

    PDF Family Law Act Procedure
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Consent orders

    Just because a court application has been started does not mean that you will now have to resolve everything by going to court. At any time, you can still come to an agreement and turn that agreement into a Consent Order.

    Be Aware

    You may not be able to get a consent order to reduce or cancel support arrears, or even change ongoing support, if the recipient has ever been on income assistance. For more information on steps you will need to take, call Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    There are two ways to get your agreement turned into a consent order. Which one you choose will likely depend on what has happened so far and where you are in the process.

    Option #1: Turn your agreement into a consent order

    The first option is to have the terms of your agreement turned into a consent order.

    If you have already started a court action (in other words, if you have already filed a Claim and any Statements for your matters), you may have to take your draft consent order to chambers to have a judge grant the order. This does not have to be done on any particular day, and you do not have to wait until your scheduled court date if you had one.

    Chambers is where one judge sits in an open courtroom (meaning anyone can come in) and hears a list of different cases by different people. Before the judge starts to hear the cases on the list, he or she will ask if there are any preliminary matters. At this time, people who want a consent order can ask for one.

    Be Aware

    In some judicial centres, you may just be able to hand the draft consent order to the court clerk, who will present it to the judge in his or her office. Contact Resolution and Court Administration Services to see what the procedure is in your judicial centre.

      
    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    If you have not yet started a court action, you can start the court action with the Consent Order. To do so, you must first get your draft Consent Order signed by a judge. The process for doing that depends on your judicial centre.

    For example:

    • You may have to take the draft Consent Order to morning chambers (see the “Going to and being in chambers” section below for more information about how to do that). Once you have done that, you take the signed Consent Order to the filing counter and the clerks will open a court file with the Order; or
    • You may be able to give the draft Consent Order to the court clerks directly, who will get it to a judge for review and let you know whether the judge approved it. Once the Consent Order is signed, the clerks will open a court file with the signed Order.

    Either way, there will be a filing fee. For more information about which process you need to follow in your judicial centre, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

    Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Once you have the consent order, remember to make sure that it is filed with the Court and served on the other party.

    All court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP):

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

    For more information about RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    After you file your Order: Registering your Order

    If you want, or think that you may someday need, to have your consent child support order be part of the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP), you will need to make sure that your order meets MEP’s requirements.

    For more detailed information about MEP’s requirements see the “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” section below.

    Option #2: Complete a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement

    The second option is to complete a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement. This is a specific kind of Agreement that has eligibility criteria, a mandatory template form, and required steps. One of those requirements is to file the completed Agreement with the Court of Queen’s Bench, which will turn the Agreement into a court Order. For more information about how to complete and file a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement, see the following resources.


    PDF Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement (Form MEP3388)
    Government of Alberta
    English
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    Be Aware

    This option is not available to everyone. You cannot sign a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement if:

    • you already have a court order about support (in other words, you cannot use this to change (or “vary”) a previous court order);
    • you have a signed agreement for child support made under the Parentage and Maintenance Act,Income Support Recovery Act, or Part 5 of the Income and Employment Supports Act; or
    • you are receiving Supports for Independence (SFI), Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH), or other benefits from the Alberta Ministry of Human Resources and Employment (unless your social services worker tells you it is alright to do so).

    In addition, a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement deals only with child support and partner/spousal support—nothing else can be added. Therefore, if you have agreed to matters other than just support, getting a consent order may be a better option for you.

    All court orders related to child support (which includes Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements that are filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench) must include one of two standard clauses about the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP):

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource. For more information about RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

    If you do complete a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement and later want or need to change the support amount (which can include reducing or cancelling arrears) and cannot agree on the changes with your former partner, you will need to make an application to the court. For more information about how to do that, see the “Asking for changes to a previous court order” section above.

    Going to and being in chambers

    Plan to go to the court hearing

    The Claim tells you when and where court will be held. Go to that hearing. If you do not go to court on that day, the court may make an order without you there.

    If you live far away from the location of the hearing and cannot attend in person, you may be able to attend by video or telephone. Contact the court clerks well before the hearing date to arrange that.

    PDF Family Law Act Procedure
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Preparing for chambers

    You will be appearing in “chambers” in the Court of Queen’s Bench. Chambers is where one judge sits in an open courtroom (meaning anyone can come in) and hears a list of different matters by different people (yours is just one on the list). Depending on your location and the amount of time your matter is expected to take, you may be in court in the morning or the afternoon. For more information on chambers, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    It is your responsibility to make sure that you are in the correct courtroom. When you enter the Courthouse, you can ask a staff member for directions.

    For most people, going to court will be a brand new experience. It may also come as a bit of surprise. Being in court is not really as it appears on most television shows, and you will likely not be familiar with the rules of court (yes, there are rules!). Also, most people find that dealing with family issues in court is stressful.

    For these reasons, it is a good idea to prepare for the court experience. The following resources provide some very useful information on preparing for court in Queen’s Bench.


    Web Courtroom etiquette
    Government of Alberta
    English

    For even more information, go to the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page [FLProblems009].

    All court orders related to child support must include one of two standard clauses about the Child Support Recalculation Program (RP):

    • a clause stating the RP may recalculate the child support amount, or
    • a clause indicating RP will not recalculate.

    When you are in chambers, be sure to tell the judge whether you want RP to recalculate child support or not. This will make sure that the right clause is included in your child support order. If the other party disagrees with you on this topic, you may have to give the judge your reasons for choosing one over the other. The exact wording of the clauses is in the following resource.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program: Eligibility criteria
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recalculation clauses in court orders.”

    For more information about RP, see the “Child Support Recalculation Program” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program” section below.

    Family Court Counsellors

    In some locations, Family Court Counsellors (FCCs) may be available to help you learn about the court process. FCCs can also help present the facts to the judge. To get this help you will need to talk to them long before your court date!

    See the following resources for more information.

    Web Family court assistance
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Family court counsellor locations
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Duty counsel

    In some courthouses, you may have the option of speaking with “duty counsel.” Duty counsel are volunteer lawyers who will discuss your legal issue with you for free. This can include what the judge may think of your requests and the “merits of your claim.” There are no income restrictions to speak with duty counsel, but the service is limited. They are only at certain courthouses on certain days. Also, there may be many people waiting to speak with them. If you need to speak to duty counsel, make sure you get to the courthouse early. Check with your judicial centre to verify the times and days duty counsel will be available.

    For information about what matters duty counsel can help with, and which judicial centres have duty counsel available, see the following resource.

    Web Duty Counsel - Legal Assistance at Court
    Legal Aid Alberta
    English

    Other resources to help

    Other organizations may also provide family court workers/counsellors, depending on the area of the province. These include: Native Counselling Services, the John Howard Society, and the Central Alberta Community Legal Clinic / Women’s Outreach Court Preparation Program. For more information about these programs, as well as other organizations that might provide similar services, see the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page.

    Asking for an adjournment

    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 well in advance of the court hearing date. To find out how to do that, call your Court of Queen's Bench Chambers Clerk.

    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    You must have a good reason to ask for an adjournment. The Court is not pleased if adjournments are just asked for 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.

    Be Aware

    For matters in special chambers, there are additional rules about asking for adjournments. These rules are very specific and strict, and they are not just for lawyers—you must follow them even if you are representing yourself. For more information, see the following resource and call your Court of Queen's Bench Chambers Clerk.


    Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
    Government of Alberta
    English

    In regular chambers, it is also possible to ask for an adjournment on the date of the court hearing. If both parties agree, you can ask for an adjournment before the chambers list begins (more information on chambers is on the Understanding the Court Process Information Page). The judge will ask if there are any preliminary matters—this is the time to make the request. Judges often grant such adjournments, but not always. For example, judges may refuse an adjournment if they are concerned that one or both of you will be harmed by the adjournment, or if they feel that the adjournment option has been abused. If the other party does not agree, you must wait for your turn on the list and request an adjournment when your turn comes. The judge may or may not grant the adjournment.

    Generally, when you ask for an adjournment, you must immediately decide on a new hearing date. Sometimes, however, you may not know when you will need the hearing. For example, you may need time to complete something, but are unsure how long that will take. If that is the case, you may be able to adjourn “sine die”: this means without a set date.

    Be Aware

    If you have a lawyer, adjournment requests may go a bit differently. The other party may ask for an adjournment that you do not want. But, your lawyer might have to agree to it, as long as no harm will come to you as the client. This may be required by the lawyer’s professional Code of Conduct.

    For more information about adjournments, see the following resource.

    PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
    Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
    English
    See p. 28.

    After the chambers hearing is over

    In most cases, when your court hearing is over, the Order granted by the judge will be typed up by the court clerk. It may be ready shortly after the hearing. If it is not, it will be mailed to you. It will also be mailed to any other parties. If one of the parties is represented by a lawyer, the judge may ask that lawyer to type it up.

    Once you have the Order, you may need to serve it on the other party—check with the court clerks. Remember, if you do have to serve the other party, you will also need to complete and file an Affidavit of Service.

    Asking for “costs” in chambers

    If you are the Recipient

    The party who was most “successful” at the court hearing may ask that the other party pay the costs involved with going to court. Although the Court can grant costs, this is not a very common thing.

    A few things to keep in mind are as follows.

    • Costs are not always awarded. Generally, they are kept for situations in which one side has been completely unreasonable or very difficult (this is called “vexatious”);
    • Costs awarded are never as much as the actual cost of going to court. Instead, the court generally gives a pre-set amount; and
    • Even if you are awarded costs, you still have the problem of actually getting that money paid to you. This may not be easy to get from someone who was unreasonable and vexatious in the first place.

    If you want to ask for costs, you simply ask for it in your Statement or Reply Statement and again at the end of the hearing. If you forgot to ask for it in your paperwork, you can try to ask for costs at the end of your hearing. However, the judge may not consider the request if it was not included in the paperwork. Sometimes a judge will grant costs, even if it was not requested. This could happen if the judge feels that one side has been unreasonable or vexatious.

    For more information about costs, see the following resources.


    Web How much can be payable for court costs in Alberta?
    Bayda Disability Law Firm
    English
    This is a private source. Learn more here.

    Video Costs in Family Law Cases
    Feldstein Family Law Group
    English
    This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
    Be Aware

    Judges can grant costs if the parties do not follow the rules about hearings (for example: rules about the paperwork restrictions and the deadlines). For more information about these rules, see the following resource.

    Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)

    For the Recipient

    Once you have your court order (or a variation order) you will likely want to register your order with MEP. See the following resources for information about:

    • how to register your child support order (including a Queen’s Bench order that you got as part of completing the Maintenance Enforcement Agreement),
    • all of MEP’s powers and abilities, and
    • steps you need to take and forms you may need to complete in order to have MEP enforce your Order.
    Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: How to register
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Making and receiving payments
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Receiving payments.”

    Web MEP forms
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Recipient of support.”


    PDF Maintenance for Adult Children Information Sheet
    Government of Alberta
    English
    Be Aware

    Once your order is registered, both payors and recipients are required keep their contact information up-to-date with MEP. Also, payors must keep their employment, income, and other financial information current with MEP. For more information, see the following resource.

    Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Contact info.”

    MEP has policies that can affect your child support orders. For example:

    • MEP has a policy that says that it will not enforce child support for children over 22 years old unless the court order specifically requires that it do so. As a result, if you require MEP enforcement for support that is for a child over the age of 22, be sure to include it in your order; and
    • MEP has a policy that says that it will not enforce child care costs for children over age 12. As a result, if you require MEP enforcement for day care costs that are for a child over the age of 12, be sure to include it in your order.
    • MEP will only enforce section 7 expenses if the type of expense is clearly stated. If a term is not specific enough, MEP will ask you to complete a separate Section 7 Expenses Agreement. Or, MEP may ask you to have the court Order changed to clarify the section 7 expense.

    See the following resource for more information about MEP policies. You may wish to check with MEP for any policies that might affect your needs.

    If you are the Payor

    For general information about MEP, see the following resources.

    Web Maintenance Enforcement Program: Making and receiving payments
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Making payments.”

    Web MEP forms
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Payor of support.”

    If you are making payments from outside Canada, see the following resource.

    If you have not made your child support payments and now MEP is taking action to enforce the child support order, you have 3 options to try to get some relief. These options are often combined to help avoid similar problems in the future.

    1. You can ask that your child support arrears be reduced or cancelled. For more information, see the “Asking for changes” section above.
    2. You can ask that your future child support payments be reduced. For more information, see the “Asking for changes” section above.
    3. You can ask for a “Stay of Enforcement” against MEP. This means you apply to have MEP not take action against you for your unpaid child support at this time. In other words, it delays MEP taking action against you, but does not cancel your arrears or change the child support order itself. For more information about how to do that, see the following resources.

    For more information about your options, see the following resources.

    Web How a Government Bill becomes Law - Canada
    Queen's University
    English

    PDF Statement of Finances: Information Sheet
    Government of Alberta
    English

    PDF Payment Arrangements for Arrears: Information Sheet
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
    Government of Alberta
    English
    See “Stay of Enforcement on Arrears.”

    Web Divorce and Retirement
    Moe Hannah LLP
    English

    Web Limit the collection of your support payments
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Registering with the Child Support Recalculation Program

    For information about registering with and using the Child Support Recalculation Program, see the following resources.

    Web Child Support Recalculation Program
    Government of Alberta
    English




    PDF Child Support Recalculation Program: Info sheets
    Government of Alberta
    English

    Going to trial

    Not all cases go to trial, but some do. Going to trial is very different than going to other kinds of court hearings. There are different rules and procedures. It is also much more time-consuming and much more expensive. For information about going to trial, see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Appealing a court order

    It is possible to appeal a court decision granted in the Court of Queen’s Bench. This is true of both chambers and trial orders. You would have to appeal to the next highest court: the Alberta Court of Appeal.

    However, you cannot appeal a decision simply because you are not happy with it. You can only appeal if you believe the judge has made an error of law or a substantial error on the facts. In addition, be aware that an appeal can only be made within 30 days of the order.

    For more information, see the following resource and the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

    Web Make an appeal at the Court of Appeal
    Government of Alberta
    English