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My spouse and I are separating. Since we were married, we have to deal with our separation issues in the Court of Queen's Bench.

It depends.

If you are planning to get a divorce, you will need to go to the Court of Queen's Bench for the divorce itself. Also, if you are planning to divide your property in court, you will need to go to the Court of Queen's Bench to deal with that property. However, if neither of these apply to you, you can choose to use the Provincial Court instead. That is, you can deal with your other separation-related issues (such as parenting time, child support, and spousal support) in Provincial Court. 

However, the Alberta courts prefer to keep all matters relating to one family within one court. So, if there is already an existing court action started, you will be strongly encouraged to make any later applications in the same level of court as the other matters. Using the same level of court is also usually less complicated, keeps costs down, and makes it easier for all parties involved to schedule hearings.

Last Reviewed: January 2016
If I get a protective order against my abusive partner, he won’t be able to see the kids.

Only if the protective order states that he cannot see the children. The issue of whether or not he can see the children will depend on the terms of your protective order and any other family law orders you may have in place.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Separating or getting divorced automatically cancels my Will.

False.

A divorce or separation does not automatically revoke a Will. In other words, even if the Testator has left a gift to a former spouse or former Adult Interdependent Partner, the Will is still valid.

However, if a former spouse or former Adult Interdependent Partner is left a gift in a Will, the Wills and Succession Act says that that gift is, as a starting position, considered to have been withdrawn (or “revoked”) by the Testator. This is the case unless it can be shown to the Court that the Testator really meant to leave that gift to his or her former spouse/partner despite their separation. If this can be shown, it is called “finding a contrary intention.” In other words, the only way that a former spouse or partner can get the gift is to prove to the Court that the gift really was intended despite the separation.

Similarly, if a former spouse or former Adult Interdependent Partner is named as the Personal Representative, the Court will first assume that the Testator meant to revoke that nomination. However, the Court may find a contrary intention in this case too.

Last Reviewed: March 2016
If I terminate my relationship with my step-children as a result of the separation, I don’t have to pay child support.

False. 

If you were married to the child’s parent, or lived in a relationship of interdependence of some permanence with the child’s parent, and if you treated the child as if the child was your own (this is also called “standing in the place of a parent”), you may have to pay child support. 

There are many factors that a judge will look at to decide if you stood in the place of a parent. Some of these are:

  • the child’s age and how long you have had a relationship with the child;
  • whether you treated the child as you would your own (including how involved you were in the child’s care, activities, education, and discipline);
  • whether the child thinks of you as a parent;
  • if you are now living apart, whether there has been continued contact, or attempts at contact; and
  • whether you provided any sort of financial support for the child.

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

Therefore, if you are found to have “stood in the place of a parent,” you will pay some support. However, the obligations of the biological or adoptive parents can be greater than yours, so you may pay less child support than would otherwise be required by the Child Support Guidelines.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
I just moved in with my girlfriend who has a child with her ex-partner. In our domestic agreement, we agreed that I won’t have to pay any child support if we break up. Now I never have to worry about child support.

False.

Child support is the right of the child, not the parents. Therefore, this term in the agreement will not be binding.

Whether a non-biological parent has to pay child support depends on if he or she has “stood in the place of a parent” (also called “in loco parentis”). If a court finds that he or she has “stood in the place of a parent,” then the non-biological parent will have all the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent. In this case, child support would be one of these responsibilities.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
If I'm only going to the United States, I don't need to have any sort of documentation to travel with my pet.

False. Whenever you are crossing a border, you may have to prove that your pet is healthy, current on vaccinations, and belongs to you. Always make sure you check the requirements of your destination country when travelling with your pet.

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
If I suspect animal abuse and report it, I could get sued by the animal owner if it turns out I am wrong.

False.

The Animal Protection Act says that no action may be taken against you for making a report or helping with an investigation in good faith.

However, the owner could take action against you if:

  • you knew the report was not true but you were trying to get someone into trouble; or
  • you had no reasonable grounds for your suspicion.
Related Information Pages:
Last Reviewed: March 2016
If I don’t like the terms of my domestic contract, I can apply to the Court to change it.

False.

Not “liking” the terms is not enough. A court will not change a contract just because one or both parties no longer like it, or the contract gives them less than they would otherwise get under the laws that govern separation and divorce.

Generally, if a domestic contract was entered into fairly, and the contract meets all the legal requirements, a court will be reluctant to change the agreement. If you want a court to “set aside” an agreement or part of an agreement, you must give the court a valid legal reason to do so.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
As long as we have a written contract, I can use someone else’s sperm or eggs even if they change their mind.

False.

The person can take back (withdraw) their consent. If they do, you will not be allowed to use the sperm or eggs.

However, to withdraw consent, the person must inform you in writing before a certain time. The deadline for withdrawing consent is different depending on whether:

  • the person is your spouse or common-law partner and you were going to make a baby together; or
  • the person is a donor.

Your spouse or common-law partner can withdraw consent up until you have used the reproductive materials for its intended purpose.

A donor can withdraw their consent up until the reproductive materials have been assigned for your use (for example, you ordered them from a clinic). If the donor withdraws their consent in writing before this time, you cannot use their reproductive materials. This is true even if you have a contract that says that you can.

Be Aware

Once you have created an in vitro embryo (outside the body), there are additional consent requirements that you must meet.

Last Reviewed: March 2017
Only parents can be the guardian of a child.
I can’t get a protective order without letting the abuser know that I want one.

False.

Some protective orders allow victims to make the application “ex parte”—this means without notice to the abuser. For example, Emergency Protection Orders can be applied for ex parte. Under certain circumstances, so can restraining orders. These are usually ordered on the same day, and someone else (such as the police) will tell the respondent about the Order.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Once a law is in effect, there is no way to know what the lawmakers had in mind about its meaning or use.

False.

When making a law, the members of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta or the Parliament of Canada debate whether or not it should become a law and why. Records are kept of these debates and the process for any given bill under discussion. Researching these records (also called “Hansard” debates) can help to determine what the “intention” of the law is. The “intention” can be important when making arguments about how a law, or a portion of law, should be “interpreted” by a court.

Last Reviewed: March 2016
If I end my guardianship or custody of my child, I will no longer have to pay child support.
My partner gave me a pre-nuptial agreement to sign. I don’t like the agreement, but I feel like I should sign it because otherwise I won’t have any protection if we separate.

Not necessarily.

If you separate after you are married, the law will give you some protection even if you do not have a pre-nuptial agreement. As a married person, you will have rights and responsibilities under the Divorce Act and Matrimonial Property Act in addition to the Family Law Act (which is available to both married and unmarried people). In these laws, there are provisions for child support, spousal support, and property division. If you don’t have a pre-nuptial agreement, these laws will govern your separation.

However, if you are not yet married when you separate, then you will not have access to the Divorce Act or the Matrimonial Property Act. Depending on your legal status under the law, you may have certain rights and responsibilities under the Family Law Act that will govern your separation (but those will not include any rights about property division).

In addition, even if you do sign a pre-nuptial agreement, it will not take effect until you are married. So if you separate before you are married, the terms of your pre-nuptial agreement will not govern your separation.

Related Information Pages:
Last Reviewed: October 2015
If I disagree with a decision Child Protective Services made, I have to go to court to deal with it.

False.

Often, the best solutions are the ones worked out between the parties themselves. As a result, CPS tries to resolve issues cooperatively, respectfully, fairly, and efficiently.

At all stages of child intervention, informal dispute resolution is available. The first step is to talk to the caseworker.

There are also other informal processes in place that may include:

  • a discussion with a supervisor, manager, or higher official;
  • family group conferencing; and
  • mediation.

After attempting any informal dispute resolution, you will be told about the decision, both verbally and in writing (for example, in a letter or e-mail).

If you still want to deal with the matter in a more formal way, you can always do so. For example, you can apply for an internal “Administrative Review” of a CPS decision, or apply to court to appeal a decision.

Last Reviewed: April 2017

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