Family Law FAQs

Get answers to your questions about family law, divorce and separation, common law, child custody and spousal support

The following content is provided for informational purposes only to assist individuals who are trying to find an attorney or lawyer in Edmonton with good lawyer reviews. Alberta family law is complex with hundreds of legal terms covering everything from divorce to child custody.

It is not wise to ask friends or neighbours for assistance on any matter related to family law, even if they have some experience in a family law matter. You should consult with a family law lawyer prior to making any decisions about your legal matter. You should also keep in mind that the best law firm is not necessarily the first one that you find in the Edmonton lawyer directory or the one that has the biggest law office and claims to offer the best legal services in the city. Kiriak Law offers FREE introductory consultations for anyone seeking assistance. Contact us online or by phone to request an initial consultation.

General questions about Family Law

How do I know when it is time to do a lawyer search for a Family Law Lawyer?
Over the past 10 years, the Court system has become more user friendly and there are more things that litigants can do on their own. However, it has been our experience that many areas of family law are complicated and require good legal representation. Please call and meet one of our lawyers for some sound advice.
Do I need to bring anything for my first consultation?
No. We are happy to listen and offer practical advice during our first no-charge consultation. If time is of the essence and you wish to proceed with your divorce quickly, bringing a copy of your marriage certificate and a photo of your spouse for service identification would be a useful start. If you and your spouse have children 16 years old or under, you must also take the mandatory Parenting After Separation course. It is a free 6-hour course taught at the Courthouse. To book the course, call (780) 413-9805. You must keep and provide your lawyer with the certificate of completion after you have taken the course.

Questions about divorce

On what grounds can a person apply for a divorce?

Canada’s Divorce Act states that “Breakdown of the marriage” is established when:

  1. the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and apart at the commencement of the proceeding; or
    • committed adultery, or
    • treated the other spouse with physical or mental cruelty of such a kind as to render intolerable the continued cohabitation of the spouses.
    • the spouse against whom the divorce proceeding is brought has, since the celebration of the marriage:

The breakdown of a marriage is typically established by proving the spouses have lived apart for at least a year prior a divorce judgment is granted. There are other grounds for divorce, including adultery and mental or physical cruelty of nature as “to make the continued cohabitation of the husband and the wife intolerable.” You can apply for a divorce if you are able to prove either adultery or mental or physical cruelty. However, most divorces proceed on the basis of a “one-year separation”, which can actually occur while both parties live under the same roof, if they have lived independently of each other.

What constitutes adultery?
Adultery is defined as the voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than the person’s spouse (as per Black’s Law Dictionary). If a woman engages in artificial insemination without the knowledge of her husband, it is considered adultery. Older cases suggest that oral sex is not enough to constitute adultery. Going through a contested adultery proceeding is expensive and often takes more than a year to come to trial. This is why some individuals prefer to request a divorce based on a one-year separation.
Is it possible to minimize the cost of filing for a divorce?
Yes, the best way to minimize the cost of a divorce is by avoiding or minimizing conflict and trying to work together cooperatively. This is, of course, not easy because one or both parties may be experiencing strong feelings of betrayal, which can lead to lengthy and expensive court battles.
How long does it take to be divorced?
Many variables can influence how long a divorce takes. In the best circumstances, where there is cooperation between both parties and there are no children, a divorce can be completed in 6-18 months. This is, however, the exception. Most divorce cases take more time. Divorce actions involving intense dispute resolution can last several years.
What is the legal definition of "separation"?
It can mean when a couple is physically separate and the official start date of separation is the day when they were no longer living together, or, in some exceptional cases, when parties who live in the same residence commence living separate and independent lives. The date of separation could also be initiated by an act, such as the date in which the police removed one member of the couple, or the day a spouse filed for divorce.
What is collaborative law?
This is a legal process in which a couple agrees to separate or end their marriage, but wish to proceed without going to court or engaging in contested litigation. Both parties sign a contact called the “Participation Agreement” which binds each party to the process and disqualifies each party’s lawyer from representing either party in any future litigation related to the couple.

Questions about child custody

What is "Joint Custody?"
Joint custody is the process whereby parents decide custody. In many ways, it is no different than what existed prior to the separation, meaning each parent willingly accepts certain responsibilities.
Who pays child support?
Either parent could be ordered to provide child support for a child that is in the care of the other parent. The parent providing the child support does not have to be a spouse or former spouse. It could include a person who has demonstrated a “settled intention to treat a child as a child of his or her family”, which could include a parent’s live-in partner.
Who has custody of the children?
Initially, both parents have custody of the children. This changes, however, when one of the parents or another individual asks a court to remove custody from one or both of the parents. Until a decision is rendered, both parents have the same rights.
Who can ask for custody?
Custody can be requested by either parent or any other person, such as common law parents, friends, grandparents or other family members.
How is child access determined?

Access time has traditionally been arranged for alternate weekends from Friday evening to Sunday evening or Monday morning, plus a mid-week visit which could extend to an overnight visit. Holiday time is usually split evenly, but adjustments can be made to accommodate a parent’s holiday schedule. Lately, the Courts have been more willing to consider a more equal sharing of the children between the parents in appropriate cases where it is in the children’s best interests. The Divorce Act directs the Court to consider “as much contact with each Spouse as is consistent with the best interests of the child.”

What is supervised access?
This means that a third party must be present. There must be some reason why the access needs to be supervised. This could be because there is some potential risk of violence, neglect or abduction. Most often, the third party is a custodial parent, a mutually trusted friend or relative.
What is the connection between child support and spousal support?
There is no connection. They are determined with separate calculations and are usually the subject of intense negotiations. It is recognized that sometimes there is not enough money for both child support and spousal support and in this scenario the child support is paid first.
How is child support calculated?

The Federal Child Support Guidelines make prescribed child support mandatory. If the parties share the children (parenting time greater than 40% of the time), the parties typically set off each others’ income, and the party with the greater income pays the other party the difference.

How is spousal support calculated?
While there are Spouse Support Guidelines set out by Federal Legislation, these are only “Guidelines” and are not mandatory. The Court has broad discretion to award spousal support based on a variety of factors.
How is a common law relationship different from marriage?

There is no difference in a common law relationship with respect to child support obligations. However, common law spouses have no entitlement to spousal support unless the parties have lived together for more than three years or have a child together. Property claims in common law relationships fall under the law of constructive trust rather than the Matrimonial Property Act.

Does it make sense to search for lawyers by gender?

No. You are wasting your time if you are doing a search in any of the following ways: “divorce lawyers for fathers”, “divorce lawyers for mothers”, “divorce lawyers for women” or “divorce lawyers for men”. What you need is a divorce lawyer that is right for you. Talk to a Kiriak Law lawyer by requesting an initial introductory consultation today.

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You will also appreciate that our fees for legal services and disbursements are made clear right from the start and are approved before we go on to work on your behalf. Support is never more than a telephone call away. We are happy to meet with you in our offices or at your home. You can expect prompt responses to all inquiries and regular progress updates.

Choosing Kiriak Law means you are engaging the legal services of a law office that strives to deliver a level of client service associated with only the best lawyers in Edmonton.  This helps explain why we receive such kind and supportive testimonials from our clients. For example, here is how one client expressed his thanks: "You did a great job. You had my back."
To learn more about the legal process, take a moment to read our FAQS and legal terminology pages. Or get started today by contacting us online or by phone to schedule a no-obligation introductory consultation.

We trust that you will find this legal website helpful, but please note that the content Is provided for informational purposes to assist anyone who has not been able to locate a lawyer by looking through the Edmonton lawyer directory, a lawyer referral service or lawyer reviews. It should not be considered legal advice.
Choosing Kiriak Law means you are engaging the legal services of a law office that strives to deliver a level of client service associated with only the best lawyers in Edmonton.
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