Partner Support under the Family Law Act (non-married & married partners)

Law

Separating couples can use Alberta’s Family Law Act to deal with matters such as:

  • Who can get partner support
  • Calculating partner support
  • The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
  • How partner support is paid
  • How partner support affects your taxes
  • Solving partner support matters out of court
  • Going to court to deal with partner support issues, including changing partner support orders
  • Enforcing partner support

See the sections below to learn how the law applies to you.

Choose the Process tab above for 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: January 2017
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page contains information about partner support (sometimes also called “spousal support”) for couples whose relationship is breaking down.

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

  • The law that applies to couples 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 couples, depending on the choices they are making. This is because, for support and parenting issues, married couples 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 spousal support issues using Canada’s Divorce Act, this is the wrong Information Page—see the Spousal Support under the Divorce Act Information Page instead.
  • If you were married and you choose to deal with your spousal 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. 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 about partner support 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.

The first topic is What the words mean. Please read this section even if you think you already know what the words mean. This topic is quite confusing because there are many different words used in different laws across Canada and internationally. In order to understand the resources on this page, you will need to understand the legal terms.

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.

Adult Interdependent Relationship (AIR)

The term used in Alberta to describe what many people might otherwise call a “common law” relationship.

A person is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship if he or she has been living with and in a relationship of interdependence with another person:

  • for three years; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (see above); or
  • for less than 3 years if they have a child together (by birth or adoption).

A “relationship of interdependence” is a relationship where the partners are not married but in which they:

  • share one another’s lives;
  • are emotionally committed to one another; and
  • function as an economic and domestic unit.
Be Aware

You cannot become the Adult Interdependent Partner of someone if you are related by blood or adoption, unless you sign an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement with him or her.

As you may have noticed from the definition of “relationship of interdependence,” the relationship does not have to be romantic or sexual to meet these requirements; it can be non-romantic (also called “platonic”). However, for the purposes of this Information Page, we will only deal with the breakdown of romantic relationships. For information about the breakdown of non-romantic AIRs, see the Ending a Non-Romantic Adult Interdependent Relationship Information Page instead.

You do not qualify for partner support under Alberta’s Family Law Act if you were not in an adult interdependent relationship or married to each other.

For more general information about Adult Interdependent Relationships, including how to determine if you were in an AIR, see the following resources.

Web Adult Interdependent Relationships FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Living Together: Adult Interdependent Relationships
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Adult Interdependent Partner (AIP)

A person who is in an adult interdependent relationship with another person (see above).

Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement (AIPA)

A written contract in which 2 adults agree to become Adult Interdependent Partners. That contract must be in the form required by the Alberta Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation—see the following resource.

PDF Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation
Government of Alberta
English

partner support

Money paid by one former partner to the other former partner, to help with living expenses. Partner support is sometimes called “partner maintenance.” The term “partner support” may apply to either married spouses or unmarried partners. 

You may have heard this called “alimony”: that is not the term that is used in Canada.

payor

The person paying partner support to another person.

recipient

The person getting partner support from another person.

party

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

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.

quantum

The amount of partner support to be paid—the “how much” part of the calculation. The quantum (“how much”) and the duration (“how long”) are closely linked: a larger monthly quantum may mean a shorter duration.

duration

The length of time the partner support is to be paid—the “how long” part of the calculation. The duration (“how long”) and the quantum (“how much”) are closely linked: a larger monthly quantum may mean a shorter duration.

lump sum payment

A single, larger payment of money, rather than a series of smaller payments made over time (such as a monthly payment).

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.

to “swear” or “affirm” 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 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 Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement Regulation
Government of Alberta
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, see the Our Legal System Information Page.

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 the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

The resource below 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. According to 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 your former partner 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 partner 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

 

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  • 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 partner support. When you are using Alberta’s Family Law Act to address your partner support issues there may be other things to consider, such as guardianship and parenting and child 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.

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.
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 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.

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.

Webinar Spousal Support Basics and Partner Abuse
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Presentation Overview of Family Law
YWCA Canada
English

Web Income Support
YWCA Canada
English

Web Legal Protection From Abuse
Government of Alberta
English

Web A Spotlight on Family Violence and Immigrant Women in Canada
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
At the start: Breakup has just occurred

Sometimes, a separation can come as a bit of a surprise. This can be scary and overwhelming. That is natural. For detailed information on things to consider when family breakdown has just occurred, see Immediate Issues for All Separating Couples.

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.

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.

It is possible to agree

Although it may not seem like it right now, you can come to an agreement with your partner. Going to court is not a requirement. You can even agree on partner support before you actually leave.

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 your life right now, or even in the next month. Temporary, or “interim,” arrangements can be made, and this includes partner support. If you and your partner cannot agree on initial arrangements, you can get an “interim” (temporary) order from the Court that makes arrangements for the first few weeks or months. This can be done quite quickly. For more information about going to court to get interim partner support, see the Process tab of this Information Page.

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.

The following resources provide information about things to consider.

Video Episode 201- Spousal Support - Family Matters TV
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video How do I protect myself during separation? - Divorce Planning
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

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 the Working with a Lawyer Information Page or 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.

What is partner support and why is it needed?

Partner support is money paid by one former partner to the other former partner, to help with living expenses.

The law recognizes several reasons for providing partner support, and these reasons form the basis of “entitlement” to partner support—see the “Who is eligible for partner support?” section below for more information about entitlement.

See the following resources to learn about the reasons to provide partner support.

PDF General Information: Spousal / Partner Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 3.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 18 and p. 21.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 16:30.


Web Child & Spousal Support
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English

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

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

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 spousal support. Although the focus is mainly on married couples who are separating, the principles are similar and seeing the comparison may be helpful.

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

Partner support is not as well-regulated as other areas of family law, such as child support. The law provides the general concepts noted above, but much of how that law is applied is up to individual judges in individual cases (this is also called “judicial discretion”). It is a very complex area of law.

Who is eligible for partner support?

To be eligible to ask for partner support under the Family Law Act, you must have been in an adult interdependent relationship (see the “What do the words mean” section above) or married to each other. This is part of what is called showing “entitlement.”

However, just because you were in an adult interdependent relationship does not mean that you will automatically get partner support. Not every couple who separates will end up with one former partner paying partner support to the other.

In order to ask for partner support, you must also show one of the reasons for entitlement (see the “What is partner support and why is it needed?” section above). In other words, is there a claim for compensation, or a need, or a previous agreement (or some combination of these)?

Be Aware

One partner making more money than the other is not enough reason to be entitled to partner support: there must also be one of the reasons for entitlement (see the “What is partner support and why is it needed?” section above).

For specific information about being eligible for partner support, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Spousal / Partner Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 2.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 19-20.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 18:50.

Web Separation and Divorce: Spousal Support
Community Legal Education Ontario
Chinese, English, French, Spanish
This resource is from 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 Determining Entitlement (article included in "Spousal 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.

Book Creating a New Lexicon for Spousal Support (article included in "46th 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.
How is partner support calculated? How much, how long, and retroactive support

Once it is clear that a former partner is entitled to ask for partner support, a judge will look at various factors to decide how much partner support should be given (this is also called the “quantum”) and for how long (this is also called the “duration”).

The factors considered

The factors that judges consider in deciding the “how much” and “how long” include:

  • how long the former partners were together;
  • the roles of the former partners during the relationship (for example: did one stay home to take care of the children?);
  • the standard of living during the relationship (what was the budget and monthly expenses?);
  • how much each former partner earns and whether this income is likely to continue;
  • any other ways that the former partners have of earning money and their financial resources in general;
  • the reasonable financial needs of both former partners;
  • the plans the former partners made before and during the relationship for their own retirement, education, business, and other goals;
  • the conditions of the former partners (such as their ages and health and anything else that may be of importance);
  • any agreements about partner support between the former partners (express or implied),
  • whether either former partner is legally required to support anyone else (which would then affect how much income is available to support the former partner);
  • whether either of the former partners lives with another adult who earns income (if the payor lives with anyone else, he or she might have more funds available to pay; if the recipient lies with anyone else, his or her need might be smaller).
Be Aware

On its own, bad behaviour by one of the former partners during the relationship (also called “misconduct”) is not considered as one of the factors in figuring out partner support. The only time it will be considered is if the bad behaviour causes or increases the need for support.

There are a few more things to keep in mind about these factors:

  • the “how much” and “how long” are closely linked: a larger monthly quantum may mean a shorter duration;
  • it is generally thought that if the payor can afford it, the recipient should have enough support to continue to live in a standard similar to how he or she lived during the relationship;
  • in interim (temporary) partner support orders, the main focus is to meet the basic needs of the recipient, and durations are kept relatively short, so that the matter can be better examined later. Any consideration of the compensatory factors is more common in final orders;
  • a former partner is not expected to pay support from an asset divided as part of the division of the property from the relationship. An example would be where a payor would have to pay partner support from pension income—as that pension was already divided upon separation. This is called “double recovery,” and courts are clear that it should be avoided; and
  • when making support orders, the court must give priority to child support over partner support. If there is not enough money to pay both kinds of support, then the partner support must be reduced. However, in those cases, it may be possible for a court to increase partner support after the children have grown up and are no longer in need of support.

The “how much”

The amount of partner support to be given is hard to determine, and hard to guess at in advance. Partner support is not as well regulated as other areas of family law, such as child support. The law provides general concepts, but much of how that law is applied is up to individual judges in individual cases (this is called “judicial discretion”). The issue of “how much” is the first area where the judge must apply his or her discretion.

The starting point is income. In addition, the court must also consider the assets and debts of each former partner. This is where all of those factors listed above are weighed against each other. For example: even if a person has the “means” to pay, that ability might be affected by other factors, such as whether he or she lives with another income-earner, whether there are financial obligations to anyone else, and whether the person is “under-employed” on purpose.

In making its decision, the court will want to consider how other courts have applied their discretion in similar circumstances. If you are representing yourself, you may want to research other cases that had circumstances similar to your own. For more information about researching case law, see the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

The “how long”

Again, figuring this out is driven by the exact facts of the case, and the judge has a large amount of discretion. It is also important to remember that the “how much” and “how long” are closely linked: a larger monthly payment may mean a shorter amount of time.

There are also various options that a judge must consider. For example: should the partner support be “time-limited,” meaning that it will end on a specific date? Or should it be indefinite, meaning that there is no specific end date? Or, should it be “reviewable,” meaning we are not sure when it will end, but we know that it is not forever and that we will have to re-examine the issue at a later date. If so, should the court set that date of review right now?

Be Aware

Under the Family Law Act, unless your agreement or order says otherwise, partner support ends when the recipient dies (even if the award was given for “compensatory” reasons). Similarly, if the payor dies, the usual rule with ongoing payments is that the support obligation dies with the payor, unless the support order or agreement says otherwise. However, the recipient can apply to court to ask that the support obligation continue and be paid from the payor's estate. Therefore, to make sure partner support payments will continue after the death of the recipient and/or payor, it must clearly say so in the agreement or court order. However, any arrears that are owed at the time of death become a debt of the estate.

“Retroactive” partner support

It is possible to get a lump sum of “retroactive” partner support for the time in the past when you should have received support. For more information about retroactive partner support, see the following resources.

Web Retroactive Support and the SSAG
Government of Canada
English


Web Grounds for Retroactive Spousal Support
Birenbaum, Steinberg, Landau, Savin & Colraine, LLP
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Spouse Can Get Retroactive Support
Milne Selkirk
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

More information

Below you will find resources that discuss in detail:

  • Calculating partner support
  • Financial disclosure and imputing income
  • How death impacts partner support under a domestic contract

For more general information about calculating partner support, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Spousal / Partner Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 4-7.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 22-25.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 22:20.

PDF Family Law in Alberta: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 13-15.

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

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

Web What You Need to Know Before Using an Online Spousal Support Calculator
Fine & Associates Professional Corporation
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

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


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

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

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

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

Web What is the imputation of income for support payments?
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
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 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 outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Financial Disclosure in Family Law Cases, Don’t Hide; It’s Best to Provide!
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

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.

For information about how death impacts partner support in a domestic contract, see the following resource. This 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 Impact on Death (article included in "Domestic Contracts")
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.
The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

It can be complex to figure out partner support. To provide an overview of the options (especially for former partners who are trying to come to an agreement), the federal Department of Justice has created a calculation tool known as the “Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines” (SSAGs). This tool uses several formulas to provide a range of partner support alternatives.

Be Aware

The SSAGs are not law. Courts do not have to follow them (unlike the mandatory Child Support Guidelines), and they often don’t. Although courts have been willing to consider the SSAGs, they have also made it very clear that they continue to base their decisions on the specific facts of the case in front of them. As a result, the use of the SSAGs in court varies. Also, the SSAGs deal only with the “how much” and “how long”—they do not deal with eligibility for partner support in the first place.

For more information, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Spousal / Partner Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 4-7.

Web The role of the federal Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

You can also read the entire Guidelines in the following resource.

Web Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines
Government of Canada
English

In order to calculate an estimate of partner support using the SSAGs, special software is required. To complete the calculation, you must talk to a lawyer—staff at Resolution and Court Administration Services cannot complete these calculations.

How is partner support given and how does that affect your taxes?

Partner support is often ordered as a fixed amount that is paid on a regular basis, generally every month (this is called “periodic” payments). This is the most common form of support. However, in rare cases, partner support can be paid in a one-time lump sum. This is not common, as people do not usually have the whole amount to give at once.

Family Violence

Lump sum payments may be appropriate in some cases, such as when family violence is a concern and it is a good idea to limit future contact between the former partners. However, you should discuss whether this is a good option with your lawyer. They can describe the disadvantages and advantages of accepting monthly payments or a lump-sum payment.



For more information about lump sum partner/spousal support, see the following resources.
Web The Factors That Influence Lump-Sum Spousal Support Awards
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

PDF Lump Sum Spousal Support: Refining A Blunt Instrument
Jenkins Marzban Logan LLP
English
This is a private source and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

When deciding what to ask for about how the partner support is paid, an important thing to consider are the tax issues. If the support is a fixed amount paid on a regular basis, the payments are tax deductible for the payor and taxable for the recipient. On the other hand, if the support is paid in a lump sum, the payor loses any tax deduction associated with the amount, but the amount is still taxable for the recipient.

Be Aware

In order to be be tax deductible, the fixed amount of support must be identified in a written agreement or court order. In addition, the agreement or order must clearly identify the support as partner support, because if it is not clear, the support will be assumed to be child support (which is treated differently for tax purposes).

For more information on the tax issues around partner support, see the following resources.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 22:40.

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 Support Payments
Government of Canada
English

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


Web Spousal Support Qualifiers and Tips
Barriston Law LLP
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Accounting and legal fees
Government of Canada
English

Web Frais juridiques et comptables
Government of Canada
French

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

Web Are Alberta support payments tax deductible?
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.
Partner support after the payor dies (including using life insurance as security)

In general, any ongoing partner 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 partner support payments “binding on the estate of the payor.”

Many agreements and court orders do say that partner 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 partner support nonetheless. In addition, although ongoing payments may end, arrears are binding on the estate.

As a result, a payor’s estate may owe partner support. However, sometimes the estate does not have enough money to pay the partner 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 partner 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 decide to separate.
  • When they separate, Alex wants to cancel the life insurance.
  • Alex has to pay Terry partner support.
  • Terry is concerned that Alex will not pay partner support on time (resulting in partner support arrears).
  • Terry and Alex decide to keep the life insurance policy, with Terry to get the money 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 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

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

On the other hand, if both the payor and the recipient 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

Under Alberta’s Family Law Act, the law around partner support is no different for blended families than it is for any other families. Your partner 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 (specifically whether either of the former partners lives with another adult who earns income) can affect or change an order for partner support. For more information, see the “How is partner support calculated?” section above and the “Changing partner support orders” section below.

LGBTQ considerations

Under Alberta’s Family Law Act, the law around partner support is no different for LGBTQ couples than it is for anyone else. Your partner 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, if you became an Adult Interdependent Partner while still using the name and/or gender assigned at birth. Now you are making a court application for partner 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

Under the Alberta Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, a person cannot have more than one Adult Interdependent Partner (AIP) at the same time. Also, a person cannot become the AIP of another person if that first person is already living with his or her married spouse. As a result, only the person who is the legally recognized AIP can apply for partner support under Alberta’s Family Law Act.

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. 38.
Concerns for immigrants and other non-citizens

One or both partners 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.

Immigration sponsorship can also impact partner support. When the immigrating partner was sponsored, the sponsor agreed in writing to support his or her partner for 3 years. That sponsorship agreement is between the sponsor and the Government of Canada. In other words, the sponsor would owe the government money if the sponsored person becomes a burden on the social system (for example: by needing income assistance or having many medical bills). That said, the sponsorship agreement can be used as evidence in an application for partner support, to show why the sponsored partner might need support. However, it does not mean that the sponsored partner will automatically get the support, as he or she must make “every reasonable effort” to support himself or herself.

If any of the above applies to you, be sure to review the Family Breakdown and the Immigration Process and the following resources.

Web Marriage Breakdown
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Spousal Support and Sponsorship Agreements
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
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 partners are involved in criminal proceedings

If one or both of the partners is/are involved in criminal law issues at the time of family breakdown, the situation is much more complex. 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
  • 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 partner 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, before coming to any agreement, it is important to understand your rights and what you might be entitled to. Also, remember that partner support is separate from child support and division of 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 Breaking up: Without court
Canadian Bar Association
English

PDF Se séparer sans l’aide des tribunaux
Canadian Bar Association
French

Webinar Conflict, Court, or Another Way? Different Ways of Resolving a Family Dispute
Your Legal Rights
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Family Law Education for Women
Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children
Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Urdu
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.Choose your language, then see topic #1.

Web Resolving disputes - think about your options
Government of Canada
English

Before you go 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 partners currently live in Alberta and have never lived anywhere else.
  2. Both partners moved to Alberta from another province. They still live here. No court action has been started in any other province or country. And most of their property is located in Alberta.

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 partners moved to Alberta.
  2. One or both partners 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 partner 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 two courts, see the following resource 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

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 and Working with a Lawyer for more information about these options.

Enforcing partner 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 former partners are given the partner support that they are entitled to, 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 partner 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?

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.

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 partner support arrears, he or she can ask the Court that the arrears be reduced or cancelled. This is not an easy argument to make. See the “Partner support arrears” section below for more information.

Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreements

Queen's Bench

ONLY

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 partner support, see the following resources.

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

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.”


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

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.

Partner support arrears

Sometimes, the payor gets behind on his or her partner support payments. When this occurs, the debt accumulates and the payor is still responsible for the amount owing. The debt of unpaid partner 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. See the Process tab of this Information Page for more information.

Be Aware

This is not an easy application to make.

Changing partner support orders

Once a partner support order is given, if the situation changes, either former partner can apply to change the order. Both partners will need to disclose their income information in order for the Court to determine the amount and type of order it will make.

In order to change a partner support order, there must be a significant change in one or both of the former partner’s:

  • condition (for example: an illness or disability),
  • means (for example: an increase or decrease in income),
  • needs (for example: becoming unemployed), or
  • other circumstances (for example: an increase in household income due to a new partner)

This can include evidence that was not known before, but has come to light since the first hearing.

In addition, if the order or agreement that you are trying to change originally had an end date to the support, it may be even more challenging to get the variation. Additional factors that a court might consider include:

  • the change is needed to relieve financial hardship;
  • this financial hardship arose from the change in circumstances;
  • the financial hardship and/or the change in circumstances are in some way related to the former relationship; and
  • if, at the time the order or agreement was made, the former partners had known that the change in circumstances would occur, that order or agreement would have been different from what it was.
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 changing partner support orders, see the following resources.

PDF General Information: Spousal / Partner Support
Government of Alberta
English
See p. 9-11.

PDF Families and the Law: Financial Support
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 26.

Video Child and Spousal Support
Edmonton Community Legal Centre
English
Start at 25:00.


Web Child & Spousal Support
Student Legal Services of Edmonton
English



Web Changing Final Orders in Family Matters
Clicklaw
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. See "Orders about spousal support."

Web Spousal Support Agreements – Are They Always Air-Tight?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web What do I need to change a spousal support order in Alberta?
Kirk Montoute LLP
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video Spousal Support and Voluntary Retirement
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web If My Ex Starts Living with Someone Else, Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support?
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.
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: February 2017
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page contains information about partner support for couples 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 partners 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 partners (also called “spouses”), depending on the choices they are making. This is because, for partner support issues, married partners 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 partner support issues using Canada’s Divorce Act, this is the wrong Information Page—see the Spousal Support under the Divorce Act Information Page instead.
  • If you were married and you choose to deal with your partner 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 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 partners involved 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 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 there is a question of having to prove parentage (who is the father of the child), that can only be done 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.

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
  • various 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 partner 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 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.

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.

When coming to an agreement, it is also important that you understand the law around partner support. For detailed information, see the Law tab of this 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.

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. Having a court order makes it a little easier to take action to enforce your agreement if you need to.

There are 2 ways to make sure that a partner support agreement can be enforced:

  • You can prepare a consent order setting out the terms of your agreement. For more information about how to do this, 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 partner support order, turning your agreement into an 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 partner support” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” section below.

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

When children are involved in family breakdown, the Alberta Courts has programs to help keep the family out of court, if possible. A family does not necessarily have to already be involved in a court action to use these resources. If you have children and qualify for these resources, the issue of partner support can also be addressed.

If you do end up taking these matters to court, some of these resources and processes could become MANDATORY.

Therefore, if you have child-related matters to resolve in addition to partner support issues, be sure to review the Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page and the Child Support under the Family Law Act Information Page for more information about the kinds of resources that can help you.

For more information, contact Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
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).

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:

  • 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 Provincial Court “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.

Judges in docket court 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 partner 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 docket court. 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 ask at 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.

Be Aware

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. This is something for you to consider if you think you will also need to go to court about an issue involving a child. Resolution and Court Administration Services can help with this.

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 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.

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 support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent 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 party. 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 for partner support

To apply for partner support, 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 - Spousal/Partner Support (Form FL-48 / CTS3473)
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 partner 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. 16-19.

When filling in this form, you will need:

  • 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);
  • a list of monthly expenses; and
  • a list of assets and debts.

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.”

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the form below, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
Family Violence

If you experienced family violence and you think it would be better to limit further contact and communication, you can consider requesting partner support as a lump sum payment. However, you should discuss whether this is a good option with your lawyer. They can describe the disadvantages and advantages of accepting monthly payments or a lump-sum payment.

Filing a Request for Financial Information

When you are filing for partner support, you may also need 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 partner 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 partner 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 partner 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 partner 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. 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 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. 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 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 partner 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.

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.

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.

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, and 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 partner 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 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. If the Applicant made an error, or if you have since moved, you can simply respond to the application where you now live.

For example:

  • You used to live in Red Deer.
  • The Applicant filed in Red Deer and the court file is in Red Deer.
  • You have 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.

Be Aware

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. This is something for you to consider if you think you will also need to go to court about an issue involving a child. 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 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 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 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 - Spousal/Partner Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Spousal/Partner 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.  

Completing the Reply Statement about partner support

If you disagree with the partner support as proposed by your former partner in his or her “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support,” 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 Reply Statement - Spousal/Partner Support (Form FL-70 / CTS3494)
Government of Alberta
English
 This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

When filling in this form, you will need:

  • 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);
  • a list of monthly expenses; and
  • a list of assets and debts.

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.”

Webinar Child Support: Dealing with a Difficult Ex-partner
Your Legal Rights
English
See “Remplir une déclaration de revenus” and “Comment obtenir une copie de votre avis de cotisation ou de nouvelle cotisation.”

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

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 partner 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 “costs”—a penalty for having to go to court over the issue. 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: simply include all of the information that was requested with your Reply Statement about partner 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 partner support, you may also have been served Statements about other separation-related issues as well. 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 partner 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 child support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address child support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Child 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. 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.

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
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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 partner 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.
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. 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.

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 without you there. 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, you and/or your former partner may need or want to change the terms of a previous order for partner support. 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

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. Are you filing this request for a variation in the judicial centre where you live?

You may live in a different judicial centre than you used to. In this case, you can file the variation request in the judicial centre where you now live. 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 the court file is still in Red Deer.
  • You have since 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.

Be Aware

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. This is something for you to consider if you think you will also need to go to court about an issue involving a child. 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.

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 support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent 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 party. 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 partner support

If you are trying to change what the court order says about partner support, you will need to complete a Statement about that. On this issue, there is a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting partner support (the Recipient) or the person paying partner support (the Payor).

If you are the Recipient of the partner support, 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.

Family Violence

If you experienced family violence and you think it would be better to limit further contact and communication, you can consider requesting partner support as a lump sum payment. However, you should discuss whether this is a good option with your lawyer. They can describe the disadvantages and advantages of accepting monthly payments or a lump-sum payment.

If you are the Payor of the partner support, 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.

Tip

If you are the payor and you are asking to have your partner support arrears reduced or cancelled, you would use the same form above, but be sure to fill in the information required about arrears.

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

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 partner 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. 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 and choosing a court date

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. 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 partner 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
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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 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.

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
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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. 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.

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 your former partner (who is known as “the Applicant”) asks for changes to partner 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 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 the Applicant made an error, or if you have since moved, you can simply respond to the application where you now live.

For example:

  • You used to live in Red Deer.
  • The Applicant filed in Red Deer and the court file is in Red Deer.
  • You have 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.

Be Aware

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. This is something for you to consider if you think you will also need to go to court about an issue involving a child. 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 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 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 his or her request for variation, he or she 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
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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, check the box that says you agree and fill out the rest of form.
  • If you agree with everything that the Applicant asked for, but you also have things that you want to ask for, check off that you agree in Part 1. Then check off the boxes in Part 2 that say what you will be asking for. This is 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 his or her Claim. For each of these boxes that you check off, you must also complete a Reply Statement (explained below).
  • If you do not agree with everything that the Applicant asked for, check off in Part 1 that you do not agree. Then fill out the “Reply” form to each of the topics brought up by the Applicant. If you want to ask for something that has not yet been brought up, check off the appropriate boxes in Part 2 and fill out the forms required for each of these topics.

Completing the Variation Reply about partner support

To respond to an application to vary partner support, you will need to complete a Reply for that. On this issue, there is a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting partner support (the Recipient) or the person paying partner support (the Payor).

If you are the Recipient, 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.

Tip

If you, the recipient, are responding to a request by the payor to cancel or reduce partner support arrears, you would use this same form.

If you are the Payor, 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.

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

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 partner 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 Child Support,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Vary Child Support.”

If the Applicant is asking for something new in addition to the partner support variation, you will complete a Reply Statement for each topic. For example, if the Applicant filed a “Statement - Child Support,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Child 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 partner 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 child support being paid. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address changing the child support. You would complete a “Statement - Vary Child 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 child support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address child support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Child 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. 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.

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
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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 partner 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. 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. 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.

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 without you there. 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, contact 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 partner support claim, just a claim related to your relationship breakdown.Perhaps you have filed a Claim about parenting time and partner 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.

After you file your Order: Registering your Order

If you want, or think that you may someday need, to have your consent partner 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 

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.

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, see the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page.

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 Resolution and Court Administration Services
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 partner 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.”

Be Aware

Once your order is registered, you must keep your contact information up-to-date with MEP. For more information, see the following resource.

Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
Government of Alberta
English
See “Contact info.”

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.

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.”

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 support arrears be reduced or cancelled. For more information, see the “Asking for changes” section above.
  2. You can ask that your future 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 support at this time. In other words, it delays MEP taking action against you, but does not cancel your arrears or change the support order itself. To get a Stay of Enforcement, you will need to go to the Court of Queen’s Bench. For information about how to do that, see the following resources.


Queen's Bench

 


Web Limit the collection of your support payments
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 partner 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.

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.

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.

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. Having a court order makes it a little easier to take action to enforce your agreement if you need to. There are two ways to make sure that a partner support agreement can be enforced:

  1. You can prepare a consent order setting out the terms of your agreement. 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 do this, 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 partner support order, turning your agreement into an 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 partner support” section on the Law tab of this Information Page, as well as the “Registering with the Maintenance Enforcement Program” section below.

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

When children are involved in family breakdown, the Alberta Courts has programs to help keep the family out of court, if possible. A family does not necessarily have to already be involved in a court action to use these resources. If you have children and qualify for these resources, the issue of partner support can also be addressed.

If you do end up taking these matters to court, some of these resources and processes could become MANDATORY.

Therefore, if you have child-related matters to resolve in addition to partner support issues, be sure to review the 

Guardianship & Parenting under the Family Law Act Information Page and Child Support under the Family Law Act Information Page for more information about the kinds of resources that can help you.

For more information, call Resolution and Court Administration Services.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
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

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

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

The Court of Queen’s Bench has created a Court Procedure Booklet that has helpful information.

The following resource has helpful information about bringing a spousal support application to Queen’s Bench. It is written for people applying for spousal support under the Divorce Act, but many of the same principles apply to applying for partner support under the Family Law Act. This 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.

 
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:

  • 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

In case you end up in court to resolve your issues, it is important to start to learn about what you can expect in court. The court process 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 partner 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.

For information about whether you can ask for any of these exceptions, contact the Court of Queen’s Bench in your judicial centre, or call 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 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 even more information, see the Family Violence and the Legal Process Infomation 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 support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent 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 party. 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 for partner support

To apply for partner support, 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 - Spousal/Partner Support (Form FL-48 / CTS3473)
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 partner 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. 16-19.

When filling in this form, you will need:

  • 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);
  • a list of monthly expenses; and
  • a list of assets and debts.

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.”

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
Family Violence

If you experienced family violence and you think it would be better to limit further contact and communication, you can consider requesting partner support as a lump sum payment. However, you should discuss whether this is a good option with your lawyer. They can describe the disadvantages and advantages of accepting monthly payments or a lump-sum payment.

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 to 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 a Notice to Disclose

When you are filing for partner support, you may also wish to file a “Notice to Disclose.”

A Notice to Disclose 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 partner support. You can also just ask your former partner for his or her financial information, but if he or she is not providing it, using a Notice to Disclose makes sure that you will get it.

A Notice to Disclose can be filed on its own, or along with the paperwork for an Application about one or more other issues related to your separation (such as child support or partner support).

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

However, as noted above, a Notice to Disclose can also be filed at the same time as the paperwork for an Application about one or more other issues (such as parenting time and child support). If you are filing a Notice to Disclose together with the paperwork for a first Application, the two matters can be 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, you can simply let the judge know and the hearing will go ahead on the same date as planned but without the need to disclose financial information.

To file a Notice to Disclose, use the following 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.

PDF Notice to Disclose / Application (Form FL-17 / CTS3835)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox. Instructions are included on the form.

Once you have served the Notice to Disclose on your former partner, you must file an Affidavit of Service. Which affidavit you use depends on your situation:

  • If you are only asking for financial information, you will also need to fill out this affidavit to “prove” that you gave your former partner the paperwork:
  • If you are filing the Notice to Disclose along with the paperwork for another Application, you will put a list of all of the documents served into one affidavit: the “Affidavit of Service - Applicant.” In that affidavit, you must remember to check off the box about financial information.
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.

When you serve a Notice to Disclose, you must give your former partner the same financial information. To do so, you must use the “Responding to a Notice to Disclose” form and then serve it on your former partner along with an Affidavit of Service to prove that you gave him or her the information. These are the forms you will need:


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.

Examples

If you only want financial information from your former partner:

You file a Notice to Disclose on its own. You serve it on your former partner on September 30. Your former partner has until October 30 to give you his or her financial information. The hearing is scheduled for October 31.

  • You must give your former partner your financial information by October 30 as well. You serve your financial information on your former partner (usually at the same time as you serve the Notice to Disclose on him or her). 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.

If you want financial information AND other issues dealt with in court:

You file a Notice to Disclose together with an Application for any other issues you want dealt with in court (such as guardianship, parenting, child support, or partner support). You serve all of the paperwork on your former partner on September 30. Your former partner has until October 30 to give you their financial information. The combination hearing is scheduled for October 31.

  • You must give your former partner your financial information by October 30 as well. You serve your financial information on your former partner (usually at the same time as you serve the Notice to Disclose on him or her). 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 can let the judge know that the “financial disclosure” part of the hearing is no longer needed, but the other matters in your application will go ahead.
  • If both sets of financial information are not exchanged by October 30, you go to the hearing on October 31, prepared to talk about all of the issues, including financial disclosure.
Be Aware

The costs for not providing financial information within the month can be quite large: sometimes hundreds of dollars per day, each day that you are late. Also, the court may call these costs “unpaid partner support,” which can then be enforced by the Maintenance Enforcement Program (which can lead to further actions being taken against the person who does not disclose the financial information).

Completing Statements for other matters in dispute

When you are filing the paperwork about partner 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. 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 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. 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 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 partner 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.

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.

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.

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 partner 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.

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.

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, s/he 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 - Spousal/Partner Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Spousal/Partner 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.

Completing the Reply Statement about partner support

If you disagree with the partner support as proposed by your former partner in his or her “Statement - Spousal/Partner Support,” 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.

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
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 to 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.


Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

Regarding a Notice to Disclose

When you were served with your former partner’s Claim and Statements, you may also have been served with a “Notice to Disclose.”

A Notice to Disclose 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 partner support.

A Notice to Disclose can be filed on its own, or along with the paperwork for an Application about one or more other issues (such as partner support).

When a Notice to Disclose is filed, there is a hearing date included. This can be a hearing to just deal with financial disclosure (if a Notice to Disclose was filed on its own), or it can be a “combination hearing” that includes other matters (such as partner support). If you were served with a Notice to Disclose along with other paperwork, you probably have a combination hearing. You should carefully read your documents so that you know about your deadlines and the hearing date(s).

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, 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 to your former partner within one month, the hearing:

  • may be cancelled (if it was a hearing only about financial disclosure), or
  • may go ahead with the other matters, but the issue of financial disclosure will be removed from the list of things that need to be heard.

To respond to a Notice to Disclose, use this package of forms:

PDF Court of Queen's Bench: Responding to a Notice to Disclose / Application
Government of Alberta
English
Instructions are included on the form.

You will also need to file an affidavit to prove that you gave your former partner the financial information. Which affidavit you use depends on your situation:

  • If your partner only asked for financial disclosure, you will use this form:
  • If you are filing your response along with the paperwork for other issues to be decided in court, you will put a list of 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.
PDF Affidavit of Service - Respondent (Form CTS3514)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer.
Be Aware

Your former partner will now have to provide you with his or her financial information before the court hearing as well.

Examples

If your former partner only asked for financial information:

Your former partner filed a Notice to Disclose on its own. He or she served it on you on September 30. You have until October 30 to provide your former partner with your financial information. The hearing is scheduled for October 31.

  • You must give your former partner your financial information by October 30.
  • Your former partner must also give you his or her financial information by October 30 (this mayhave 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.

If your former partner asked for financial information AND wants other issues dealt with in court:

Your former partner filed a Notice to Disclose together with an Application for other issues he or she wants to deal with in court (such as guardianship, parenting, child support, or partner support). He or she served all of the paperwork on you on September 30. You have until October 30 to provide your former partner with your financial information. The “combination hearing” is scheduled for October 31.

  • You must give your former partner your financial information by October 30. You serve your financial information along with all the other paperwork on your former partner. You complete the “Affidavit of Service - Respondent” 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, you will both still go to the hearing to discuss the other issues.
  • If both sets of financial information are not exchanged by October 30, you go to the hearing on October 31, prepared to talk about all of the issues, including financial disclosure.

If you were not served with a Notice to Disclose, and you do not already have the financial information that you need from your former partner, you can file your own Notice to Disclose (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 child support, you may also have been served Statements about other separation-related issues as well. 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 partner 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 child support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address child support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Child 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. 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.

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 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 partner 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.

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. 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.
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 without you there. 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, you and/or your former partner may need or want to change the terms of a previous order for partner support. If the order you want to change came from a previous application heard in chambers, you can ask for a “variation.”

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 support issues, because the Court is waiting for one of the parties to provide full financial disclosure before giving a more permanent 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 party. 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 partner support

If you are trying to change what the court order says about partner support, you will need to complete a Statement about that. On this issue, there is a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting partner support (the Recipient) or the person paying partner support (the Payor).

If you are the Recipient of the partner support, 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.

Family Violence

If you experienced family violence and you think it would be better to limit further contact and communication, you can consider requesting partner support as a lump sum payment. However, you should discuss whether this is a good option with your lawyer. They can describe the disadvantages and advantages of accepting monthly payments or a lump-sum payment.

 

If you are the Payor of the partner support, 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.

Tip

If you are the payor and you are asking to have your partner support arrears reduced or cancelled, you would use the same form above, but be sure to fill in the information required about arrears.

 
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 to 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

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
Be Aware

If you had a Maintenance Enforcement Support Agreement and want or need to change the support amount (which can also include reducing or cancelling arrears) and you and your former partner cannot agree on the changes, you will need to make an application to the court. The form to use depends on whether you are the payor of the support, or the recipient of the support:

 

Including a Notice to Disclose

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to file a new Notice to Disclose – after a first court order, you can do this once per year. To refresh your memory about the Notice to Disclose and to access the forms you need, see the “Completely a Notice to Disclose” 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 partner 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. 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 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. 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 partner 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 Affidavit of Service - Applicant (CTS3513)
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.

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.

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 your former partner (who is known as “the Applicant”) asks for changes to partner 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.

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.

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, 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 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 Spousal/Partner Support” and you disagree, you must fill out the “Reply Statement - Vary Spousal/Partner Support.” See the heading below called “Completing the Variation Reply about partner 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 partner support

To respond to an application to vary partner support, you will need to complete a Reply for that. On this issue, there is a choice of forms. Which one you need to fill in depends on whether you are the person getting partner support (the Recipient) or the person paying partner support (the Payor).

If you are the Recipient, 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.

Tip

If you, the recipient, are responding to a request by the payor to cancel or reduce partner support arrears, you would use this same form.

 

If you are the Payor, 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.

When completing any Statement about partner support, a budget should be attached. You can use the following form, or make your own version if you prefer.

PDF Budget of Expenses (CTS3510)
Government of Alberta
English
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.
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 to 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

Regarding a Notice to Disclose

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 Notice to Disclose—after a first court order, you can do this once per year. To refresh your memory about the Notice to Disclose and to access the forms you need, see 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 partner 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 Child Support,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Vary Child Support.”

If the Applicant is asking for something new in addition to the partner support variation, you will complete a Reply Statement for each topic. For example, if the Applicant filed a “Statement - Child Support,” you would complete a “Reply Statement - Child 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 partner 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 child support being paid. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address changing the child support. You would complete a “Statement - Vary Child 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 child support for the first time. The Applicant’s paperwork did not address child support at all. You would complete a “Statement - Child 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. 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.

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 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 partner 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.

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.


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. 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.

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 without you there. 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, contact 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.

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

After you file your Order: Registering your Order

If you want, or think that you may someday need, to have your consent partner 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
This link only opens in Internet Explorer. Learn how you can view this form in Chrome and Firefox.

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, the 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.

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.

Web Court of Queen's Bench Location & Sittings
Government of Alberta
English

Preparing for chambers

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 one case 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.

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

The following resource has helpful information about bringing a spousal support application to Queen’s Bench. Although the title mentions special chambers applications specifically, there is good general information as well. It is written for people applying for spousal support under the Divorce Act, but many of the same principles apply to applying for partner support under the Family Law Act. This 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.

For more information, see the Representing Yourself in Court Information Page.

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 can be found 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

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)

If you are 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 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

Remember

Once your order is registered, you must keep your contact information up-to-date with MEP. For more information, see the following resource.

Web MEP changes – contact info and arrears
Government of Alberta
English
See “Contact info.”

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.

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.”

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 support arrears be reduced or cancelled. For more information, see the “Asking for changes” section above.
  2. You can ask that your future 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 support at this time. In other words, it delays MEP taking action against you, but does not cancel your arrears or change the support order itself. For more information about how to do that, see the following resources:

Web Limit the collection of your support payments
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
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