The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on legal issues within the Province of Alberta. The purpose of this topic is to inform you of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic discusses Court appearances on various family matters in the Family Division of Provincial Court.
Powers of Family Division of Provincial Court
The Family Division of the Provincial Court only deals with certain family matters. Such matters include child and spousal support, child protection cases and guardianship matters. You cannot ask the judge to deal with your divorce or property rights matters. These matters are dealt with in the Court of Queen’s Bench. If a party does not obey the terms of any order granted in Provincial Court, you can return to Court to have the Order legally enforced.
An Order of the Provincial Court may be changed or modified. In order to request any changes you must fill out the required forms and go back to the same Court that granted the original Order. However, you must show the Court that your current situation is substantially different than it was when the original Order was granted. The current situation must justify making the required changes. You may seek the advice of a lawyer to determine what forms must be filled out in your particular situation.
Family Law Information Centre
The Family Law Information Centre provides free help for any family law matters you may have. They will also assist you with your applications in Provincial Court by completing your applications forms, getting a Court date and filing other necessary documents. They will not provide legal advice on your matter you have an Order given by the Court of Queen’s Bench. However, they can give you general information on matters including, parenting rights, guardianship, custody, property division, grandparent’s rights, protection orders and other common law rights.
The Family Law Information Centre can also refer you to mediation services with respect to any of the above matters. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party (the mediator) assists you and the other party, in reaching a mutual agreement on your matter. It is an alternative method to Court and allows you to resolve your disputes yourself rather than going to Court where the Judge makes the decision for you. Mediation is also more cost effective and is offered without charge for those that qualify. If you are in Calgary, you may contact them at 403-297-6981 for more information. If you are in Edmonton, you can reach them at 780-427-8329.
Mental Health Warrants
The Provincial Court also hears applications for Mental Health Warrants under the Mental Health Act. The Family Law Information Centre can also assist you with applications for Mental Health Warrants and guardianship applications.
Child Welfare Issues
The Provincial Court Family Division will also hear applications concerning child protection issues. These are matters where the security and well being of a child are at risk. Child services may be involved in such matters. The Court has the power to grant orders for the child’s protection including, supervision and guardianship orders. If you require more legal assistance on these matters, ask the Court for an adjournment (temporary suspension of your court proceeding) to obtain legal counsel or advice.
Locations of Family Courts in Alberta
Family Courts are located in various cities and towns across Alberta. The schedule of the court may differ. Call the Court nearest to you to find out the hours, schedule and location.
Dial-A-Law is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.