Changes in Alberta Divorce Documents
Filing for divorce in Alberta requires that the proper documents be completed, commissioned, and filed through court. The Divorce documents are standard and only incremental changes are made from time to time. The last big change in document format was in 2010, when the “backer” was no longer required to be placed at the end of the document, and copies of Orders and other “filed” divorce documents no longer needed to be attached when referred to in an Affidavit. It was a welcomed change as Justices, clerks, and even lawyers were glad that while courts were not even close to going “paperless”, there was at least a push towards less filing repetition.
Where to find the Alberta Divorce Documents Online
Alberta Divorce Documents can be found online on the courts website www.albertacourts.ab.ca. Copies of all relevant documents, along with instructions on how to fill them out are listed under Court of Queen’s Bench, Family/Alberta Divorce Forms.
The courts website instructs the public that if they need divorce paperwork help, to contact RCAS (Resolution and Court Administration Services). RCAS is a court department available in most major Alberta Court jurisdictions, and its mandate is to help self-represented people who do not have legal background maneuver through the court system. Staff at RCAS can help with giving you information about the proper divorce documents to file and in which sequence. They can also help you by commissioning your documents. If you choose to represent yourself in your divorce proceedings, you need to print the documents and instructions from the courts website, and go to RCAS to request their help as explained above. However, an important thing to know is that if you decide to go that route, you are truly representing yourself, in the sense that you are in charge of completing the divorce documents and filing it through the courts. RCAS cannot catch filing mistakes, as they do not go through your paperwork in detail. What often happens when people file divorce themselves, especially if there are children, is they unknowingly make various technical mistakes that cause a rejection by the divorce clerks or Justice who will look at the file once it’s submitted. When you are self-representing in Queen’s Bench, and you or your spouse files a court application, you are also the one who will be required to stand in front of the Justice and represent your case to the best of your abilities.
Emerging Divorce Companies
In the last few years, with legal fees increasing, and the financial ability of Albertans to pay for representation lessening, new divorce companies have emerged that offer the completion of the divorce paperwork. Those companies obtain the information required, complete the forms, and send them to the clients for commissioning and filing. Even though fees charged are relatively low, those companies offer limited services, as they cannot assist with certain divorce types, and they do not have the capacity to commission or file your documents.
Your other Options
You always have the choice to hire a lawyer to prepare and file your divorce documents on your behalf. My advice to people if they choose this route is to not take the “hands off” approach even though they have someone “representing them”. Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer where your file is at, what progress has he done on your file, and what is the next step in the process. Legal proceedings can be intimidating, but this is your case, and it is important for you to be involved in order to make better choices in moving through your divorce.
If your file is uncontested; in other words, if you and your spouse agree to the divorce, and all the matters related to it, you could consider choosing a Divorce Paralegal to prepare your paperwork. A divorce paralegal is usually also a Commissioner for Oath, so she would be able to commission your documents, and even file them in court on your behalf. If you or your spouse disagree on one of the major issues, such as the children’s custody or the division of matrimonial assets, your divorce will become “contested”. In this case, a paralegal cannot represent you in court; therefore, at that point, you will need to make a decision whether you will choose to represent yourself or hire a lawyer. Always be careful when choosing a paralegal to complete and file your divorce documents, as paralegals in Alberta are not accredited, and do not belong to a governing body. I advise you to do your own research or seek a referral from friends or family before you make your decision about whom to choose.
In my eight years working at Calgary Courts Center, Queen’s Bench, I worked as part of multiple focus groups related to the Alberta divorce documents. In fact, I created the divorce filing review process currently used by Calgary divorce section staff today. If you want to file divorce yourself, and feel overwhelmed by the number of divorce paperwork you are required to complete, and the details required in them, contact me. I offer a no-obligation consultation session, and I can explain to you your options as it relates to your specific case, and offer ways I can help you file your divorce in the most simplified and easy way.