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Alberta divorce terms 101


Navigating the divorce system can be tricky, especially when you do not understand the terms used. Here are the most common terms that can be confusing for my clients.

Action number
The action number is the court file number. If it’s a divorce file, it usually starts with 48, followed by eight digits. If it’s a Family Law file, it starts with FL, followed by seven digits.

Application
An application is when you need to obtain an Order for a specific matter such as Custody, Support, or exclusive possession of the home.

Affidavit
An affidavit is written evidence in which you explain what you are asking the courts to make a decision on and why.

Adjourn
When one of the parties is unable to make it to a Court Hearing, he or she can ask the other party for consent to postpone it to a future date, therefore adjourning the Court Hearing. In Alberta, you can do so via fax at (403) 297 4310 or via online submission here.

Appeal Period
Your divorce is not final until 30 days following the date that the Justice signs your Judgment. These 30 days represent the “appeal period” wherein parties have the opportunity to file appeal documents through Court of Appeal. If no one appeals at the end of the 30 days, both parties may obtain their Final Divorce Certificate.

Corollary Relief
Corollary Relief happens in court and is where both or one of the former spouses seek a child support order, a spousal support order, a custody order or an access order.

CPAS: Certificate of Parenting After Separation

If you have children, you are required to take the PAS (Parenting After Separation) course to receive your CPAS (Certificate of Parenting After Separation) when filing for divorce and/or custody or support applications.

You can either take this class online or in class. Find more information here.

Defendant
The other party in the action (not the “plaintiff”, who started the divorce).

DRO: Dispute Resolution Officer Program
Before your Application for Child or Spousal Support is heard in court, it is mandatory that you and the co-parent attend a one-hour meeting held by a volunteer family lawyer. This program is called the DRO (Dispute Resolution Office Program). Disclosure and Support matters will be discussed in the meeting. Here is further information about the program.

Filing
Filing of documents is when you submit all your documents to the clerk at the counter and they stamp the documents. After the clerk stamps your documents, they are entered into the court database and then placed in your court file.

Hearing
The hearing is the date that you include on your “Application”. In other words, it is the date that you and the opposing party will be in court in front of a Judge who will hear your application and make a decision on it.

Plaintiff
The plaintiff is the party who started the divorce (i.e. the person who filed the “Statement of Claim for Divorce”).

Response
A response is when the opposing party files a document in reaction to the document you filed. Here are two examples:

  • Following the filing of the Statement of Claim for Divorce, the opposing party can file a Demand for Notice or a Statement of Defence.
  • Following the filing of an Application for the court, the opposing party can file a Cross-Application or a Response Affidavit.

Statement of Claim for Divorce
The Statement of Claim for Divorce is the initial document you fill out to start the file for divorce.

For further explanation of any of these terms or to get help in navigating the complicated divorce system, please connect with me for your consultation.

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