Representing Yourself in Court

Law

If you are going to court without a lawyer, you will need to prepare. See the sections below to learn about:

  • What it means to be a “self-represented litigant”
  • What to consider before representing yourself in court
  • Basic tools to help you represent yourself (such as guides, worksheets, and books)
  • Who can help you in court (including duty counsel and Family Court Counsellors)
  • General steps in preparing for court
  • How to act in court (courtroom etiquette)
  • What happens if the other party has a lawyer


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: November 2016
Who is this Information Page for?

This Information Page has information about going to court without a lawyer. If you choose to go to court without a lawyer, you will be called a “self-represented litigant” (SRL). This Information Page gives an overview for SRLs about:

  • building your case;
  • going to court;
  • how to prepare for court; and
  • who can help along the way.

For detailed information on the actual court process, such as:

  • starting a court action;
  • which forms to fill out;
  • where to file your documents; and
  • how to “serve” documents on the other party

see the Information Pages about your specific topic. You can find these Information Pages on the Legal Topics page or by using the search bar in the top right. You may also want to see the Understanding the Court Process Information Page.

You may choose to represent yourself for various reasons, such as:

  • you can’t afford a lawyer;
  • you had a lawyer but ran out of money before the case was settled; or
  • you want to deal with the matter yourself.

If you think you can’t afford a lawyer, be sure to look carefully into your options. You may qualify for legal aid. Legal aid is money available for low-income people who need legal advice. There are also other community legal organizations that can help. For more information about these options, see the Community Legal Resources and Legal Aid Information Page.

You may also be able to hire a lawyer to help with just some of your case. This is called “unbundled legal services” or a “limited scope retainer.” With this arrangement, your lawyer will generally do the more complicated legal work, leaving you to do the simpler work. For example:

  • Your lawyer might draft a document for you, but instead of your lawyer filing that document at the courthouse for you, you will file it yourself.
  • Your lawyer might prepare legal arguments and do legal research for you, but you will represent yourself in court.

In this way, you don’t have to pay the lawyer to do something that you are willing and able to do yourself. For more information about this option, see the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

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.

self-represented litigant

A person who is not represented by a lawyer in a court action. Someone who has a “limited scope retainer” or is getting “unbundled legal services” can still be a self-represented litigant if they are not represented by a lawyer in court.

limited scope retainer (also called “unbundled legal services”)

In this type of arrangement, a lawyer is hired by a client to only perform certain agreed-upon legal duties, rather than providing full representation for the entire case. For example, your lawyer might draft a document for you, but instead of your lawyer filing that document at the courthouse for you, you will file it yourself. Or your lawyer might prepare legal arguments and do legal research for you, but you will represent yourself in court.

This arrangement makes legal advice more accessible for people who cannot afford a lawyer for their whole case, or prefer not to hire a lawyer to act for them on all legal matters.

legal information

General statements about the law that do not apply to any specific person’s situation. Legal information is available to the public on websites, in print, and in person. It helps people understand:

  • the law;
  • the nature of their legal issues; and
  • how to solve legal problems (both in court and out of court).

Legal information is different from legal advice. Legal information tells you “the options that are available,” while legal advice generally tells you “this is the best option for you.”

To learn more about the difference between legal information and legal advice, see the following resources.

PDF Legal Information vs. Legal Advice: What is the Difference?
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Legal information is not the same as legal advice
Community Legal Education Ontario
English

PDF Helping Clients with Legal Issues: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 15-16.

legal advice

Guidance that is provided by lawyers (or law students supervised by lawyers) after learning about a person’s legal issues. The lawyer or law student uses their legal knowledge and expertise to come up with the “best options” for a particular client, based on what the client hopes to achieve.

Legal advice tells people:

  • how the law applies to their specific situations; and
  • what they should do about their legal problem. This includes what exactly to write on court forms and what to say in court.

Legal advice is different from legal information. Legal information tells you “the options that are available,” while legal advice generally tells you “this is the best option for you.”

To learn more about the difference between legal information and legal advice, see the following resources.

PDF Legal Information vs. Legal Advice: What is the Difference?
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Legal information is not the same as legal advice
Community Legal Education Ontario
English

PDF Helping Clients with Legal Issues: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 15-16.

summary legal advice

Meeting for a short time (often around 30-60 minutes) with a lawyer to:

  • discuss your legal issue; and
  • get advice about how you should move forward.

Summary legal advice is not the same as having your own lawyer. This lawyer may only meet with you the one time, and is not taking on your case at this time.

independent legal advice

Guidance from a lawyer about a contract a person wants to sign before they sign the contract. The lawyer makes sure that the person understands the law and legal consequences of the contract, including the person’s rights and responsibilities. In order for the advice to be “independent,” both you and the other party must have your own lawyer. You cannot both go to the same law firm.

party

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

Should you represent yourself in court?

If you are thinking about representing yourself in court, here are some things you should consider:

  • Do you have the time and energy to learn about the law and legal procedures? These are very complex topics. Learning about them can be difficult and time-consuming.
  • Are you able to fill out the necessary forms and follow the instructions properly? Court paperwork can be long and complicated.
  • Are you able to take time off to appear in court or to file documents at the courthouse? A lawyer can represent you in court without you there.
  • Are you willing and able to prepare for a court appearance? Court processes and etiquette can be very different than anything you have been involved with.
  • Will you feel comfortable dealing with the other party (or their lawyer) on your own? This can include anything from serving documents on the other party to meeting them in or out of court. A lawyer may help the negotiation and settlement process by being a buffer between you and the other party.
  • Are you able to clearly share your concerns and reasons to a judge in an understandable way? A lawyer with courtroom experience can tell a judge what you want and why.
  • Will you be able to keep your emotions under control? Dealing with legal issues is stressful and can be very emotional for the parties involved. This can interfere with legal arguments and presentation.
  • Are you prepared to deal with deadlines and time pressure? Legal proceedings can happen very quickly, and you may only have one chance to get things right.

If anything mentioned above concerns you, you may want to think about working with a lawyer. For more information, see the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

For more information about things to consider before representing yourself, see the following resources.


Web Self-Represented Litigants have Mountains to Climb
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web The Law of Costs and the Cost of Law
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Before You Go To Court
Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Going to court
Canadian Judicial Council
English

Web What should I know about representing myself?
Family Law NB
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


Web Hurdles for Self-Represented Litigants in Small Claims Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

French resources:

Web Qu’est-ce que je dois savoir pour me représenter moi-même?
Family Law NB
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.


Video Pourquoi devrais-je voir un avocat et comment en trouver un?
Family Law NB
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

For statistics about how well self-represented litigants do in court, see the following resources.


Web Finally, Canadian Data on Case Outcomes: SRL vs. Represented Parties
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Learning about the law that applies to you

As a first step, you will need to understand your legal issue. See the following resources for information about how to approach a legal problem.

PDF Seven Steps to Solving a Legal Problem
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web How to Avoid Your Day in Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Building Your Case
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

You will not be able to make your own case without learning about the law that applies to you. Family law matters can be complicated, and there are many different laws that affect Albertans. If you represent yourself, you will need to understand these laws.

See the Legal Topics page or the search bar in the top right to find Information Pages about the matters you are going to court about. There is detailed information on those pages about:

  • What the law says
  • What you may be entitled to
  • What you may be responsible for
  • Which court forms to fill out
  • The steps involved when you start a court action

If you are representing yourself, you will need to understand the legal system in Canada, and the court system in Alberta. See the following Information Pages.

You will also need to do your own legal research. Legal research is all about finding legal information that applies to your case. This can include:

  • Legislation (written laws);
  • Case law (laws made by judges hearing similar cases); and
  • Secondary sources, which describe the legislation and case law and help you make sense of how it applies to you.

There is detailed information about how to do your own legal research on the Educating Yourself: Legal Research Information Page.

Staying out of the courtroom

There are many ways to resolve your legal matters without going to court. If you solve your issues out of court, you can:

  • Save a lot of time
  • Save a lot of money
  • Save yourself a lot of stress

For information about how to solve your matter out of court, see the following resource.

PDF "Settlement Smarts" for Self-Represented Litigants: How To Use Settlement Processes Knowledgeably and Effectively
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

There is also detailed information about these options on the Coming to an Agreement on Your Own Information Page and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Information Page.

Alberta’s two-court system: What to think about before starting a court action

If you are the party who is starting the court action, you may have a choice about where to start the court action.

  • For matters under the Family Law Act, you can choose to go to the Provincial Court of Alberta or the Court of Queen’s Bench.
  • For matters under the Divorce Act or the Matrimonial Property Act, you must go to the Court of Queen’s Bench.

The 2 courts have very different processes and requirements. For self-represented litigants, there is more help available in Provincial Court. This is something to think about when choosing where to start the court action (if you have a choice).

Be Aware

If the other party has started the court action (and you are the Respondent), then you will likely have to keep the action in that court. The paperwork you were served with will state which court to appear in.

For detailed information on the differences between the 2 courts, see the following resource and the Alberta’s Two-Court System Information Page.

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

Help available in court

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.
Be Aware

In general, there is more help available in Provincial Court than in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

A few examples of the kinds of help available from RCAS are listed below. For more information about how RCAS can help you, see the following resource.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

Triage services

Triage is offered in both Provincial Court and Queen’s Bench, but only for matters under the Family Law Act, and not in all locations. In some locations it is mandatory. 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).
Be Aware

Triage is not available for matters under the Divorce Act.

Intake services

Intake services are available in some locations across Alberta, for both Provincial Court and Queen’s Bench. 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.

Be Aware

Intake is not available for matters under the Divorce Act.

See the following resources for more information.

Web Family court assistance
Government of Alberta
English

Web Intake Services (Alberta)
Government of Canada
English

Caseflow conferencing

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

Caseflow conferencing is available in Provincial Court in most of Alberta. It is also available in the Court of Queen’s Bench, but only in some areas, and only for matters under the Family Law Act.

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

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

Web Support in resolving parenting disputes
Government of Alberta
English

Family Court Counsellors

Family Court Counsellors (FCCs) 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!

Family Court Counsellors are available in Provincial Court in most of Alberta. They are also available in the Court of Queen’s Bench, but only in some areas, and only for matters under the Family Law Act.

See the following resources for more information.

Web Family court assistance
Government of Alberta
English

Web Family court counsellor locations
Government of Alberta
English

More information

For information about what help is available in your location, contact RCAS.

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English

Learning the “rules”

Many people are surprised to learn that going to court involves a lot of rules, and that not following these rules can lead to problems. When it comes to the rules of court, just because you don’t have a lawyer does not mean that you get a free pass. You must know and follow the rules. The lawyer for the other party and the judge hearing your matter are not there to teach you the rules, and they do not have to help you figure them out.

The Court of Queen’s Bench has many more rules than the Provincial Court does. Also, the Court of Queen’s Bench is much stricter about enforcing its rules than the Provincial Court. To read the rules, see the following resources.

Web Alberta Rules of Court
Government of Alberta
English

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

Web Family Law Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English
See “Family Law Act General Regulation” and “Provincial Court Procedures (Family Law) Regulation.”

The Court of Queen’s Bench also has “Practice Notes,” which are additional rules about the court process. 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.
Tools to help you represent yourself: Books, worksheets, and websites

There are many online and print resources that can help guide you as you represent yourself.

Tip

There are videos and other resources about what to expect in the courtroom in the “Preparing for court” section below.

Online resources

See the following resources for an overview of online resources for self-represented litigants.

PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Introduction to Self-Representation
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Going it alone? Resources for Self-Represented Litigants
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Resources to Navigate the Civil Court System
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
English

Web Making the Decision to Self-represent
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Web Our SRL Resources
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English
See “Provincial Resources for SRLs.”

The following resources have very useful information about how to build your case and the steps you will need to take to be prepared in court. These resources are from outside of Alberta, but the same general information applies in Alberta too.

Web Building Your Case
Justice Education Society
English

Web Applying the Law Worksheet
Justice Education Society
English

Web Case Law Worksheet
Justice Education Society
English

Web Legal Writing
Justice Education Society
English

Web Evidence
Justice Education Society
English

Web Evidence Inventory Worksheet
Justice Education Society
English

Print books and guides from your library

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

Book Representing yourself in court: How to win your case on your own
Devlin Farmer
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Get the full book from The Alberta Library.

Book Journey to Justice: A Practical Guide to Effectively Representing Yourself in Court
Denice Barrie
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Get the full book from The Alberta Library.
Book Surviving Your Divorce: A Guide to Canadian Family Law
Michael G. Cochrane
English
Get the full book from a library: Alberta Law Libraries / The Alberta Library. See Chapter 17.
People to help you represent yourself: Court programs, duty counsel, and community organizations

There are people who can help you as you represent yourself. These are described in more detail below.

When asking for help, remember that only lawyers can give legal advice. Legal advice is different from legal information. Court staff and Resolution and Court Administration Services can only give you general legal information, such as what law applies and the forms you will need. Legal information tells you “the options that are available,” while legal advice generally tells you “this is the best option for you.”

To learn more about the difference between legal information and legal advice, see the following resources.

PDF Legal Information vs. Legal Advice: What is the Difference?
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Legal information is not the same as legal advice
Community Legal Education Ontario
English

PDF Helping Clients with Legal Issues: Legal Information for Frontline Service Providers
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 15-16.

If you ask court staff for help and they tell you to talk to a lawyer, that is because what you are asking for is legal advice. Only lawyers can give legal advice.

Tip

You can use lawyers for just certain parts of your case. This is called a “limited scope retainer” or “unbundled legal services.” This can save you a lot of money. For more information, see the following resource and the Working with a Lawyer Information Page.

Court 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.

Depending on your legal matter and your location, some programs will be mandatory. This means you must take them. Others are optional.

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

Web Resolution and Court Administration Services
Government of Alberta
English
Remember

There is more help available for self-represented litigants in Provincial Court than there is in the Court of Queen’s Bench. For more information about the differences, see the “Alberta’s two-court system” section above.

Duty counsel

Duty counsel are lawyers who offer limited services to people who are unrepresented at their court appearance. There is no financial eligibility requirement to get help from duty counsel. It is free to all Albertans.

Duty counsel may:

  • review why you are appearing in court that day (before you enter the courtroom);
  • explain the issues involved in your case and give you advice about your options;
  • refer you to Family Court Counsellors (if available), mediators, or other agencies for help; and
  • appear in court with you to speak about your matter.

Duty counsel will not:

  • represent you at future court appearances;
  • meet with you at any time other than before and after your court appearance;
  • appear in court about your matter without you there; or
  • prepare documents for you.

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

Court Assistance Program (Queen’s Bench Amicus)

This program provides volunteer lawyers in chambers in the Court of Queen’s Bench. These lawyers help the court understand the needs and requests of self-represented litigants.


Web Innovative Alberta QB Amicus Program for SRLS Now Expanding
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Other organizations

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 following resource and the Community Legal Resources & Legal Aid Information Page.

Interactive National Directory of Professionals Assisting SRLs
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

For children 19 years old or younger, the Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre may be able to help.

Web About CLERC
Children's Legal & Educational Resource Centre
English

Having an agent represent you

If you want to have an agent represent you, the rules are different.

An agent is a person who speaks on your behalf in court. This person may be:

  • a friend;
  • a family member;
  • someone from a legal agency; or
  • a person you hire.

Court agents are not lawyers, so they cannot give you legal advice.

You may choose to use an agent for many reasons, such as:

  • the agent may have more legal knowledge than you;
  • the agent may not cost you any money, or costs less than a lawyer; or
  • you may want help presenting your matter to the judge.

You usually cannot use an agent in the Court of Queen’s Bench. However, you can usually use an agent in Provincial Court. For criminal matters, the Criminal Code of Canada also has restrictions on when agents can be used.

For more general information about using an agent, see the following resources.

Web Alberta Rules of Court
Government of Alberta
English
See Section 2.23(1).

Web Provincial Court Act (and associated Regulations)
Government of Alberta
English
See Section 62(1).


Web Court Agents
Government of Alberta
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Web Access to Justice and Representation by Agents
ABlawg
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Web Who can represent a corporation in the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench
Gurevitch Burnham Law Office
English
This is a private source and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Web Re-visiting the Dower Act - or, what happens to the family house
Estate Law Canada
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Web Agent Regulation: The Case of Emmerson Brando (AKA Arturo Nuosci, AKA Maverick Austin Maveric, AKA Landon Emmerson Brando)
Alberta Civil Liberties Research Centre
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Others who can support you in court

Assistance from a “McKenzie Friend”

If you are representing yourself, you may wish to have some support so that you are not all on your own. Rule 2.23(1) of the Alberta Rules of Court allows for a person to “assist” you in ways that are not legal representation. They can assist with:

  • quiet suggestions;
  • note-taking;
  • support; or
  • addressing your particular needs.

A person who assists in this way is sometimes called a “McKenzie Friend.” For more information about the differences between “legal representation” and a “McKenzie Friend,” see the following resources.

PDF The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Web What is a McKenzie Friend
The Contempt of Court Legal Clinic
English

PDF Being a Friend to Court: A Guide
Community Legal Assistance Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta and can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.

Interpreters

In either court you may be able to have someone speak for you if you cannot understand English. This person is only there to make sure that you understand what is happening and so that you can communicate with the court. This person is an interpreter, not an agent. For more information, see the following resource.

Web Going to Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See “Am I Entitled to an Interpreter in Court Proceedings?”
Preparing for court: The Rules of Court and courtroom etiquette

Many court hearings will take place in either:

  • Docket court (if you are appearing in Provincial Court); or
  • Chambers (if you are appearing in the Court of Queen’s Bench)

At these hearings, 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.

If you go to trial, trials will also occur in either the Alberta Provincial Court or the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench.

For detailed information on the differences between the two courts, see the Alberta’s Two-Court System Information Page.

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 (see below). Also, most people find that dealing with legal issues in court is stressful.

For these reasons, it is a good idea to prepare for the court experience. See the following resources for tips on preparing for court.

PDF Coping with the Courtroom: Essential Tips and Information for Self-represented Litigants
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Audio Coping With The Courtroom Audio Copy
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Web Coping with the court process
Legal Services Society
English

PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 29-30.

Interactive Virtual Court Tours
Government of Alberta
English

Web Pre-Trial Applications FAQs
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English



PDF What Can Mindfulness Training Do For You?
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Web Presenting in Court
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Pointers for Representing yourself in the Courtroom
Government of Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Top 5 Things Self Represented Litigants should know about conducting a trial
Russell Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers
English
This resource is from a private source outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web How to Represent Yourself in a Divorce Court without a Lawyer
Divorce Magazine
English
This is a private source. Learn more here.

Video resources:

Video What can I do to prepare for family court? - 4 Steps to Success in Family Court
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Episode 202: Self-Representation in Family Court - Web Extra with Lorne MacLean
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Episode 202: Family Court 101 with Lorne MacLean & John Schuman
AdviceScene (via YouTube)
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video A Successful Day in Court – How to Present or Defend Your Civil Claim
Canadian Bar Association - Alberta Branch
English


Video Your Day in Court: Representing Yourself in the Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia
Government of Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Video Court Tips for Parents
Justice Education Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Rules of Court

See the following resources for information about things you can and can’t do in court, including rules about time limits, evidence, and witnesses.

PDF There are Rules? Ten Things to Know about Going to Civil Court in Alberta
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English

Video Les règles de procédure, qu’est-ce que c’est?
Family Law NB
French
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here. Note that the Rules of Court are not available in French in Alberta.

To read the full text of the Rules of Court, see the following resources.

Web Alberta Rules of Court
Government of Alberta
English

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

How to act in court: Courtroom etiquette

In addition to the rules above, there is certain behaviour that is expected in court. This is called “courtroom etiquette.” Knowing how to behave will help the process go more smoothly.

See the following resources for more information about how to act and dress in court.

PDF Families and the Law: Representing Yourself in Family Court
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta
English
See p. 29-30

PDF Coping with the Courtroom: Essential Tips and Information for Self-represented Litigants
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Audio Coping With The Courtroom Audio Copy
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English

Web Courtroom etiquette
Government of Alberta
English


Video Tips on Court Protocol
Feldstein Family Law Group
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Pointers for Representing yourself in the Courtroom
Government of Nova Scotia
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web Tips for conducting your Supreme Court trial
Legal Services Society
English
This resource is from outside Alberta. Learn more here.

Web The Vexing Question of Authority to Grant Vexatious Litigant Orders
ABlawg
English
This resource can be a challenge to read. Learn more here.
If the other party has a lawyer

You may be representing yourself, but the other party may have a lawyer. If this is the case, there are a few things to consider. See the following resources for more information.



Audio My Learned Friend Audio Copy
The National Self-Represented Litigants Project
English
Remember

The other party’s lawyer is not there to teach you the rules, help you figure out what to do, or give you legal information or advice. Their focus must be on the other party’s concerns.

Process

Even if you don’t have a lawyer, you will still need to follow the required court processes. See the Law tab of this Information Page for general information about preparing your case, as well as contact details for the organizations and services that can help you work through your legal issue.

For detailed information on the actual court process, such as:

  • starting a court action;
  • which forms to fill out;
  • where to file your documents; and
  • how to “serve” documents on the other party

see the Information Pages about your specific topic. You can find these on the Legal Topics page or by using the search bar in the top right.

Last Reviewed: November 2016

Provincial Court

Queen's Bench

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