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 uncontested divorces.
What is an Uncontested Divorce?
Uncontested divorces occur where you and your spouse agree to all family disputes in your divorce proceeding. This can include the grounds for marriage breakdown, where the children will live, children`s visitation rights with the other spouse, support for the children and yourself (if required), and the division of the property acquired during the 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.
Commencing a Divorce
To start a divorce action, either you or your spouse will file a Statement of Claim for Divorce or a Statement of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property. Otherwise the two of you can file a Joint Statement of Claim for Divorce. Any Statement of Claim needs to be filed with a Clerk at the Court of Queen’s Bench. The filing fee is $260.00. If you start the divorce action, and file the Statement of Claim on your own, 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, claims of parenting arrangement 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 Statement of Claim.
Service of the Statement of Claim
Once the Statement of Claim is filed at the Court, it must be served on your spouse (the Defendant). `Service` means that someone must personally hand the Statement of Claim to your spouse.
You cannot personally hand the document to your spouse. You can either hire a process server to hand the document to your spouse or alternatively another individual can personally serve your spouse.
The person who personally handed your spouse the Statement of Claim must swear a document stating that they personally handed them the Statement of Claim. This document is called an Affidavit of Service. This Affidavit of Service must include a photo of your spouse confirming who was served.
Response to the Statement of Claim
Once the Statement of Claim has been personally served on your spouse (the Defendant), the following time limits apply for them to respond;
- If the Defendant lives in Alberta they have 20 days to respond.
- If the Defendant lives in another province in Canada, other than Alberta they have 1 month to respond.
- If the Defendant lives outside of Canada they have 2 months to respond.
The Defendant can respond in one of the following ways;
- (1) The Defendant can file a Demand of Notice for notification of the progress of the action; or
- (2) The Defendant can file a Statement of Defence; or
- (3) The Defendant can choose not to respond at all.
(1) Demand of Notice
If the Defendant files a Demand of Notice, within the required time limit, they are not contesting the divorce. This means that they are agreeing with your Statement of Claim. By filing this notice, the Defendant is requesting that the Court notify them of the progress of the divorce action.
(2) Statement of Defence
If the Defendant files a Statement of Defence, within the required time limit, they are contesting your Statement of Claim. This means that they do not agree with some or all of your statements in the Statement of Claim.
(3) No Response from the Defendant
If the Defendant does not file a Demand of Notice or Statement of Defence, within the required time limit, they have not responded. You can then file a document called Noting in Default. This means that the Defendant may be in default and you can apply for a Judgment of Divorce setting out the relief as claimed your Statement of Claim.
Judgement of Divorce
A Request for Divorce and an Affidavit of Applicant must be filed with the clerk of the Court. These documents are reviewed by a Judge and if the documents are in order, the Judge will sign the Divorce Judgment. The Court will forward a signed copy of the Divorce Judgment to you.
Certificate of Divorce
A divorce is final 31 days from the day the Judge signs the Divorce Judgment. At the end of these 31 days, you may apply for the Certificate of Divorce. This document is final proof of your divorce.
If you re‑marry, you will required to produce the Certificate of Divorce as proof of your divorce.
Appeal of Divorce Judgment
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 of the Judge signing the Divorce Judgment.
You may wish to hire a lawyer for an appeal, as a Court appearance may be required.
Dial-A-Law is a Calgary Legal Guidance public service project funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.