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I can’t afford to leave my abusive relationship.

Leaving an abusive relationship is very difficult, and this includes financially difficult. There are different supports and services available for people suffering from family violence. Every person’s situation is different. Therefore, each person might need different kinds of help. For example, someone who needs financial help might not need to find a shelter if they have another safe place where they can go. 

A shelter is a safe place where victims of domestic violence can go to live on a temporary basis. There are many different shelters throughout the province available to people who need protection because of family violence. Certain shelters may only be for women, for women and children, or for men. There are even shelters for seniors who are being abused.

If you need financial help, Alberta Works may be able to help. Alberta Works is a service that provides help to people in different areas, including employment services, income support, and health benefits services. For example, Alberta Works might be able to help unemployed people find jobs, or help low-income people pay for certain costs, such as food and shelter.

Alberta Works even has a specific program that provides financial help to people who are leaving an abusive relationship and cannot afford basic necessities like shelter and clothing. However, there are certain eligibility criteria that you must meet in order to get financial help from Alberta Works. To determine whether you are eligible for financial help from Alberta Works, contact a centre near you.

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
Grandparents have a “right” to see their grandchildren.

False.

In Alberta, grandparents have no automatic right to see or spend time with their grandchildren.

Under the Family Law Act, a grandparent can apply for a contact order if all of the following apply:

  • the parents are the guardians of the child(ren);
  • the guardians are living separate and apart or one of the guardians has died; and
  • the grandparent’s contact with the child(ren) has been interrupted by this separation or death.

If you are a grandparent and you meet all of these conditions, you can apply to the Court for a contact order. Unlike for other non-guardians, you do not need to first ask for the Court’s permission (also called “leave”) to apply for contact. You also do not need to give the parent(s)/guardian(s) any warning (also called “giving notice”) that you will make this application.

However, if you do not meet these conditions, you may need to ask the Court for permission (“leave”) to apply.

This means that:

  • If you never had contact with the child (in other words, there was no “interruption” because there was nothing to interrupt), you will need to ask for leave of the Court before applying for contact. This requires giving notice to the child’s guardian(s).
  • If the family unit (the parents/guardians and any children) is still intact, you will need to ask for leave of the Court before applying for contact. This requires giving notice to the child’s parents/guardian(s).
Last Reviewed: October 2015
I am a Canadian citizen, and my future spouse is moving here from another country to get married here. Once we’re married, my spouse will automatically be able to live here.

False.

Just because a person marries a Canadian does not mean they can just move here and stay here forever. The non-Canadian spouse will have to follow a formal immigration process.

The Canadian spouse may choose to sponsor the non-Canadian spouse for permanent residence. Or, the non-Canadian spouse will have to follow another immigration process to stay in Canada. Some of these processes allow the person to stay in Canada temporarily, and some are more permanent.
 

Last Reviewed: August 2016
If I have a family law issue, I can go to either the Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench.

Not necessarily.

Sometimes the Provincial Court will not have the jurisdiction to deal with your legal matter. If this is the case, you will have to go through the Court of Queen’s Bench. For example, the Provincial Court does not have jurisdiction to grant a divorce. If you want a divorce, you will have to go through the Court of Queen’s Bench. 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.

Or, sometimes both courts will have jurisdiction and you will have to choose which court you want to go to. For example, you can choose to deal with 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 a 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: October 2016
Only women get abused.

False.

Abuse happens to people of all different genders, ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and relationships.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Only parents can be the guardian of a child.
I sponsored my spouse to come to Canada. My spouse has recently become a permanent resident and we are separating. Now that my spouse is a permanent resident, I no longer have to provide financial support.

False.

As a sponsored person, your spouse must make “every reasonable effort” to support himself or herself. However, as the sponsor, you agreed in writing to support your partner for 3 years. Sponsors remain financially responsible until the end of this 3-year period, whether they stay together for this whole time or not. 

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
My great grandmother just turned 85 and still drives her car: surely that is against the law.

False.

Whether or not your great grandmother can drive a car will depend on her health.

Driving a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. As a result, Alberta Transportation must balance individuals’ transportation needs and the public’s right to road safety. One of the ways that road safety is ensured is by monitoring drivers’ skills, safety records, and medical conditions.

As people age and/or become ill, they may no longer be able to drive, or allowed to drive. But it is not an issue of age. Just because a person is old does not mean he or she cannot drive.

At her age, your great grandmother should be tested for driver fitness every 2 years. That is the law. If she has any illnesses, she should have reported them to Alberta Transportation. If those illnesses do not make her unqualified to drive, and if the driver fitness tests show that she is able to drive, then she is allowed to drive.

Last Reviewed: April 2016
It is possible to be married to more than one person at a time.

False. In Canada, it is a crime to be married to more than one person at a time.

Some people may choose to be in polyamorous relationships. These are relationships where you have more than one romantic partner. However, you can only be married to one of these partners.

Be Aware

In Alberta, it is possible to have both a “spouse” and an “Adult Interdependent Partner” (AIP). This could happen if you are separated but not divorced from your married spouse. You could then become the AIP of another person by either: living together for 3 years, or having/adopting a child together. These situations are not common and can get complicated.


 
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Last Reviewed: August 2016
My relative recently died. Because we were related, I should be given a copy of the Will.

False.

Family members sometimes think that they should automatically get a copy of the Will. This is not true. Being related to the Testator does not mean you will automatically be given a copy of the Will.

If you want a copy of the Will, you can ask the Personal Representative and he or she might give you one. Or, if the Will has been probated, it becomes a matter of public record and you can request a copy from the Court.

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Last Reviewed: May 2016
Once we are married, we have to own everything in joint names.

False.

Married people have many ways of setting up their financial lives. For example: some assets or debts may be in both spouses’ names. Or, an asset or debt may be in only one spouse’s name. There are many reasons for these differences, such as tax issues, differences in credit ratings, and sometimes just convenience.

As you and your spouse decide whether to conduct your affairs jointly or separately, it can be helpful to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of both options. The decisions you make can have serious legal consequences.
 

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Last Reviewed: August 2016
I can name whoever I want as beneficiary in my Will.

Not necessarily.

You must provide for family members who meet the legal definition of being “dependent” on you. If you do not provide for your dependent family members, they can apply to court to get financial support from your estate. Other than that, you can leave your belongings to whomever you want.

Last Reviewed: April 2016
Asking to mediate or taking part in any form of alternative dispute resolution is a sign of weakness.

False.

There is no single “right way” to solve a dispute; parties should do what works best for them and their situation. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is just as valid a way to solve a problem as going to court. It is also important to understand that mediation (and other forms of ADR) actually take a great deal of strength: it requires in-depth discussions and complete honesty. In many ways, it would be much easier to simply hand over all of the decision-making power to a judge.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
A child can decide who he or she wants to live with at age 12.

False. 

There is no magic age when a child is old enough to decide which parent they want to live with. Many courts begin considering children’s opinions by 12 years of age, but the weight given to the wishes of the child depends on various things, including the child’s age and maturity, and the specifics of the case.

If you are trying to come to an agreement on your own, you are free to incorporate the views of the child into your agreement. If you are in court, the judge may listen to the wishes of a child, if the judge feels that the child is mature enough to give his or her opinion. In general, the older the child is, the more weight the judge will put on the child's wishes. However, even if a child does provide an opinion, judges must make their decisions based on what is in the “best interests of the child.”

If you think your child needs their own lawyer to represent them and to advocate for their best interests, the Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre may be able to help for free, if your child is under 19 years old.

Last Reviewed: September 2016
If I contact any law society, they can recommend a good lawyer for me.

False.

Law Society referral services only list lawyers who are “in good standing.” This means that they have paid their fees and are allowed to practice law in that jurisdiction. They do not tell you anything about the lawyer’s skill or work style. Also, some private referral services are really just advertisements that the lawyer paid for.

Before hiring any lawyer, you should do your research about them and make sure you can work well together.

Last Reviewed: August 2016

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