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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic discusses uncontested divorces. Uncontested divorces occur where you and your spouse agree to all family disputes in your divorce proceeding. This includes the grounds for marriage breakdown, where the children will live, visitation rights with the other spouse, support for the children and yourself if required, and the division of the property you acquired during your marriage. Uncontested divorces take less time and are less expensive. You and your spouse need not appear in Court if you continue to agree throughout the process. Any disagreement over these particular family matters will result in a contested divorce.
To start the divorce action, either you or your spouse will file a Statement of Claim for Divorce with the Clerk at the Court of Queen’s Bench. There is a filing fee of $200. If you start the divorce action and file the claim you are the plaintiff and your spouse is the defendant. The Statement of Claim for Divorce must include the details of the marriage, the grounds for divorce, and claims of custody, access and support payments. It may also include a claim for division of matrimonial property. Any previous agreements made between you and your spouse must be mentioned in the claim.
Once the claim is filed at the Court, it must be served on the spouse. You must have someone personally hand the claim to your spouse. This is called an Affidavit of Service. Once the Statement of Claim has been personally served on your spouse, they have 15 days, if they live in Alberta, and 40 days if they live outside Alberta, to respond. If there is no response or if they file a Demand of Notice for notification of the progress of the action, then they are not objecting or contesting the divorce. If your spouse files a Statement of Defence, then the divorce will become contested.
If there is no Demand of Notice or Statement of Defence filed, the defendant may be noted in default and the plaintiff can apply for a Judgment of Divorce setting out the relief as claimed in the Statement of Claim for Divorce. The defendant may also agree to the relief requested. A request for Divorce and an affidavit must be filed with the clerk of the Court. The documents are reviewed by a Judge and if the documents are in order, the Judge will sign the Divorce Judgment. The clerk of the Court will forward a signed copy of the Divorce Judgment to you. You must wait 31 days from the day the Judge signs the Divorce Judgment for your divorce to be final. At the end of 31 days, you may apply for the Certificate of Divorce. This document is final proof of your divorce and if you re‑marry you will require it as proof of your divorce.
If you wish to appeal the Divorce Judgment on a question of law, you must file a Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeal within 30 days. You may wish to hire a lawyer for an appeal, as a Court appearance may be required.