Family

Student Legal Assistance may be able to help you with the following matters:

  • Guardianship
  • Parenting
  • Child Support
  • Contact
  • Enforcement

Student Legal Assistance cannot help you with the following matters:

  • Parenting matters involving Child and Family services
  • Divorce matters
  • Matters filed with the Court of the Queen’s Bench

How do you want to resolve your Family Matter?

Whether its in the Courtroom or through alternative dispute resolution services there are different ways to resolve your family matter.

Alternatives to a Court Trial:

If an agreement is reached through either of these two methods the agreement may be filed with the Court as a Consent Order:

1. Mediation:

A third party mediator assists parties to negotiate your own settlement. Mediation services are offered by private mediators and through Family Justice Services (Calgary). Visit Alberta Courts Mediations Services for details about the program.

2. Negotiation

Parties may negotiate the terms of their matter, with or without the help of legal counsel, in an attempt to reach an agreement.

Court Trial 

Here are the basics to resolving a matter at Court whether you are the Applicant (the person who makes the claim) or the Respondent (the other party).

1. The Applicant files a claim at Court to bring the matter to the attention of the Court.

The Applicant must complete a claim form and include any accompanying information that the form requires (ie; income statements, childcare expenses..etc).  Visit the Alberta Courts website for filing forms and other family matter resources.

2. The Applicant serves the Claim.

Once a claim is filed it must be served to the opposing party. See Alberta Justice Claim Instructions for details.

3. The Applicant files an Affidavit of Services (a form to prove that the other party has been made aware of the claim against them).

The Affidavit of Service must be sworn by the person who served the Respondent with the claim (e.g. friend or process server) and then filed at Family Filing at Calgary Courts Centre (6th floor) before the scheduled court date. See Claim Instructions for further details.

4. Respondent files Response Statement.

The Respondent may (but isn’t required to do so) file a Response Statement. See Response Instructions for details.

5. The Respondent Serves the Applicant with Response Statement.

Just like for the Applicant, once a claim is filed it must be served on the opposing party. See Alberta Justice Claim Instructions for details.

6. Caseflow Meeting or Docket Court Appearance.

A caseflow or docket court appearance date will be set by the Court. Both parties must attend that court date.

7. The Court may require that parties attend a dispute resolution meeting, mediation or settlement discussion.

The Court may require both parties to attend mediation or attempt resolution by consent between the two parties.

8. Judicial Dispute Resolution Meeting.

If the parties were unable to reach a resolution by consent, the Court may require parties to attend a judicial dispute resolution meeting (JDR). JDR is a mediation-like meeting facilitated by a Provincial Court Judge. Any comments made by the judge in this meeting are not binding on the parties.

9. Oral Hearing or Trial 

Trial is often the final step to resolve a dispute. The Court will issue a judgement that is binding on both parties.Note: At any time during proceedings, a legal matter can be resolved through consent between the parties.  In this case, a Final Consent Order is submitted to the court for review and endorsement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click here to go to a list of common questions you might encounter when engaged in a family file.

What is the difference between “Custody”, “Contact”, “Guardianship”, and “Parenting”?

Custody: “Custody” and “Access” are older terms and are still found in the Divorce Act.  A parent with custody has the rights and responsibilities for the child.  A parent with only access has just “visiting rights”.  Many parents will share the custodial rights in a joint custody arrangement, or by an order giving the access parent extra rights.

Contact: is the term used when a parent who is not a guardian, or if a third party wants to see the children.  A person with a contact order would have no decision making powers or responsibilities with respect to the child.

Guardianship: A person who has guardianship of the child shall exercise the powers, responsibilities and entitlements to pursue the best interests of the child.

Parenting: is a newer term in the Alberta Family Law Act, and applies to arrangements between guardians.  A parenting order or agreement will set out all the decisions that need to be made for a child and say whether the decision is made by one guardians or both.  It will then set out how the child’s time will be divided between the guardians.

source: Alberta Justice

More Family Terminology to get Familiar With:

Click here for a list of family terms with their definitions.