Posted by Olivier Fuldauer — filed in Family Law
There are financial and other rights and responsibilities tied up with getting divorced, but in essence a divorce is a change in your legal status from being “married” to being “divorced”. (Before you got married you were “single”. “Common law” also exists as a type of relationship status.) In Alberta, you can only get a divorce by a Judgment from the Court of Queen’s Bench. Interestingly, divorces have to be granted by the jurisdiction (like the Province of Alberta, for example) where at least one person in the separating couple resides. If you want to get re-married, you will need another document called a Certificate of Divorce. The Court of Queen’s Bench issues that document after the appeal period for the Divorce Judgment is over.
Because issues of parenting, child support, spousal support and division of property are often triggered by a divorce claim, people usually settle all of those questions one way or another before they get divorced. That is typically where you have to put in the most of the effort in getting divorced.
We start a divorce claim with a Statement of Claim for Divorce or a Statement of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property. In either case, the Statement of Claim starts the lawsuit that begins the divorce process. Here in Alberta, Statements of Claim are filed with the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta together with the filing fee. The Statement of Claim then needs to be personally served on the other party to the divorce claim, the Defendant.
The Defendant has either 20 days (if inside Alberta) or 1 month (if inside Canada but outside Alberta) or 2 months (if outside Canada) to respond with a Statement of Defence, and possibly a Counterclaim, if any part of the claim is disputed. If you have been served with a Statement of Claim you should speak to a lawyer to figure out and implement your best response.
Like any lawsuit, there are serious legal consequences to not responding to a Statement of Claim within the allotted time.
Once all of the issues related to the divorce are settled either by written agreement (with independent legal advice), or by an Order or Judgment from the Court, you can apply to the Court for a divorce. If the divorce application is successful, the Court will issue you with a Divorce Judgment.
Olivier Fuldauer has practiced law for 20 years and has been a certified mediator since 2017.