What Is the Divorce Process in Alberta

What Is the Divorce Process in Alberta - Heidi Dinning Certified Divorce Coaching

What Is the Divorce Process in Alberta

When you are getting a divorce, you want not only the best legal advice but the easiest and most painless process, too. If you do not have any close friends who have divorced and can give you advice, you may not even know where to begin. Luckily, below, we will go over some of the details of the divorce process in Alberta, so that you can be aware of what this may look like and what you can expect. 

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Grounds for Divorce

First things first, you do need to cite the reason for your divorce. There are several different reasons that you can point to, which we refer to as “grounds for divorce”. Before you file, you should review the grounds for divorce. It is also a wise move to contact a legal professional for advice and guidance before taking any further steps. Take a look at some of the grounds for divorce below to see if they apply to your situation.


Cruelty is when a partner commits either physical or mental cruelty to their spouse. It only has to happen once for you to be able to seek a divorce based on these grounds. However, the cruelty must be so bad that it makes living together impossible, and evidence is required. 

Some examples of cruelty can include drunkenness, violence, excessive drug use, or constant verbal abuse or threats.


Adultery refers to when you or your spouse has sex with someone who is not their partner. You are able to file for divorce based on this anytime after the fact becomes known. You must simply be able to prove they committed adultery in court if you seek a divorce on these grounds.

This can either be proven with evidence or with a signed affidavit from the spouse who committed adultery. 


Separation refers to when you and your spouse have lived apart for at least one year, prior to a divorce judgment being made by the court. You are able to begin the divorce process and take certain steps during this 1 year period but must wait until it has been at least 1 year before actually filing for a divorce. 

You are allowed to resume your relationship with your spouse for a 90-day period during the 1 year, and can also live in the same home if you are unable to live separately financially. If this is the case, you must simply be able to provide proof that you were separated during that time that you lived together. 

What Do I Need to File For Divorce?

If you are filing for divorce, you will need grounds for the divorce, as we discussed above. You will also, in most cases, need a separation agreement. A separation agreement is something that usually accompanies a divorce application, and is signed by both parties. A separation agreement is a document that records all of the decisions that you and your spouse have agreed to, regarding aspects of the divorce such as division of property, child custody, child support and parenting. In some cases, these have been agreed on by both parties amicably, and in other cases, these particular decisions are court-ordered. 

How Do I Get A Separation Agreement In Alberta?

The separation agreement is a culmination of all the negotiations you have made with your spouse. There are a few ways you can get to a consensus on the terms in your separation agreement.

  1. You and your spouse can use the traditional approach of hiring family law lawyers to fight and litigate on your behalf.
  2. You can do it yourself if you and your spouse are in agreement on everything.
  3. Or you can choose to use an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service. Mediation is more commonly used now, given that the 2021 changes to the Divorce Act require alternative dispute resolution, which may include mediation unless it is inappropriate (ex. Situations of family violence). The divorce laws in Canada are well-defined, and families find the outcome of fighting with lawyers does not justify the time or the cost. With the new Divorce Act, mediation is the first choice, even for divorces that are financially complicated and conflicted. To find a mediator professional that meets your needs click here.

There are many forms in the Alberta divorce process depending on your situation. Click here to access the forms.

How Do I File for Divorce?

Now that you understand the grounds for divorce and you know what you need in order to file for divorce, you are likely wondering how exactly you should go about filing for divorce. The divorce process in Alberta may take approximately 2-3 months before the court enters a divorce judgment.

There are two different ways that you can file for divorce.

  • You can decide to file for divorce yourself, by obtaining the proper paperwork and documents from the courthouse. You then fill out the documents together and filing the documents with the courthouse. It sounds simple. However, for couples with properties, support and children the forms are more complicated.
  • Alternatively, you can pay someone to file for divorce for you– this is usually the more foolproof option, because filing on your own may seem simple, but is actually more complicated than you may expect. However, hiring someone to file for divorce on your behalf does also incur an additional fee. There are pros and cons to both methods.

What Is The Cost To File For Divorce In Alberta?

The court filling fees for a divorce in Alberta is approximately $260. Divorce documents will be filed with the clerk of Court of Queen’s Bench.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a divorce take in Alberta?

In Alberta, a divorce generally takes around 4 to 6 months if the defendant is served with papers personally in Alberta. If the defendant is served personally in another location, though, this may take closer to 5 to 7 months. If the defendant is outside of Canada, it may even take 6 to 8 months. The timeline also depends on things such as the issues that have been already agreed upon, if it’s a joint divorce, or whether or not the spouses are on speaking terms or are having a difficult or particularly nasty divorce.

How long do you need to be separated before divorce in Alberta?

You need to have been separated for at least 1 year before divorcing in Alberta. This means that you and your spouse have been living apart for this year or for longer. However, this does not mean that you cannot begin divorce actions during this 1 year period– you will just need to wait until the 1 year period is over to actually file for the divorce. 

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce in Alberta?

In Alberta, the wife is entitled to whatever is deemed fair by the courts during the divorce process. There is no set percentage or amount of money that a wife will receive during a divorce– not even necessarily a 50-50 split– because these decisions depend on a few different circumstances and can vary from couple to couple, depending upon their situations. If you have children then there would be child support and child custody that would be taken into consideration.  

What is the average cost of a divorce in Alberta?

Costs of legal processes such as divorce proceedings can vary a lot from case to case, based on things such as the location of the service, the rate of the lawyer that is hired, and the amount of time the process takes.

In Alberta, an uncontested divorce averages about $1740. A contested divorce, however, can average around $23730– the separation agreement alone can cost about $2500.


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If you or someone you know is facing separation or divorce and don’t know where to begin, that’s where I can help. I act as emotional support, thinking partner and guide for you, so you can retain your dignity, find clarity and feel hopeful for the future. To learn more, visit our certified divorce coaching page. 

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1 thought on “What Is the Divorce Process in Alberta”

  1. Thank you for addressing the topic of Whether adultery is a crime in Canada. It’s an important issue that often raises questions and concerns. In Canada, adultery is not considered a criminal offense, but it can have implications in divorce and family law proceedings. It’s crucial for people to understand the legal aspects surrounding this matter to make informed decisions about their relationships.

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