Edmonton Family Lawyers
Edmonton family lawyers are the men and women of Edmonton’s legal community who handle family law cases for people who need a family lawyer in Edmonton.
Edmonton family lawyers can handle family law matters whether the case is being heard in Edmonton or in any other part of Alberta. Sometimes family "lawyers" are referred to as family "attorneys" although this is generally considered more of a USA term.
If your case is in the Court of Queen’s Bench in the “Judicial District of Edmonton” then it can be a good idea to have a lawyer who is familiar with exactly how things work right in Edmonton – even if you yourself live in some other part of Alberta.
“Family law” encompasses a large area of law. Family law lawyers typically practice one or two other areas of law, but find that family law is the backbone of their practice.
Family law includes (but is not limited to) the following fields:
Family lawyers increasingly have experience in “elder law” such as wills, estates, living wills, probate, powers of attorney and dependent adult or guardianship and trusteeship matters.
Additionally, Edmonton family lawyers are increasingly trained in mediation and use mediation as part of their practice.
For most family law lawyers, divorce matters occupy the bulk of their days. Divorce matters include the division of matrimonial property as well as custody, access and support issues.
The “Divorce Act of Canada” sets out the ground rules for divorce. This is federal legislation and the Divorce Act applies all across Canada. A copy of the Divorce Act of Canada can be viewed at the Department of Justice Canada website.
“Marriage” is essentially a contract and a “divorce” is the ending of that contract. One must have grounds for divorce before a divorce will be granted. In the old days the grounds for divorce were often “mental cruelty” or “physical cruelty” or “adultery”. However, since 1968 the grounds for divorce have changed and today in Alberta over 95% of all divorces proceed on the basis and the grounds that there has been a “breakdown of the marriage” and that the parties have lived “separate and apart” for more than one year. That’s it. There is no longer a need to prove any cruelty or adultery if one has lived separate and apart for more than one year. The fact that you have lived separate and apart for one year becomes the grounds.
The procedure is that either party can start divorce proceedings before the one year is up. In Edmonton this is done by filing a Petition for Divorce in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Usually this is done by an Edmonton family lawyer or an Edmonton divorce lawyer. Often the filing of a petition for divorce is accompanied with a court application for interim custody of children, visitation and child support and possibly spousal support (alimony) as well, depending of course on the situation. Occasionally one party seeks a restraining order. These court applications are frequently resolved via negotiation before they actually proceed.
The paramount concern of any custody court in Alberta is what is in the best interest of the children. Sometimes joint custody is ordered or agreed to. Custody, access and visitation of children should be arranged with the best interests of the children in mind. Your Edmonton family lawyer will be able to assist you in putting in place reasonable arrangements. They have experience in this area.
Child support is determined according to a number of factors including the income of the parties and with reference to the Canadian Child Support Guidelines. The federal Child Support Guidelines can be viewed online by searching through the Department of Justice materials or by viewing the "Supporting Families" initiative. Your Edmonton family lawyer will help you in explaining these guidelines and other laws to you and in how they apply to your specific case.
It is very common for "matrimonial property" proceedings to be commenced at the same time as divorce proceedings. Matrimonial property – which includes but is not limited to such things as houses and furniture and cars and RRSP’s and pensions and the like – is not dealt with in the Divorce Act; but rather, is dealt with in the Matrimonial Property Act of Alberta. The Matrimonial Property Act of Alberta sets out the ground rules for dividing up property. A copy of the Matrimonial Property Act of Alberta can found through the Queen’s Printer website.
Generally, property is divided equally - no matter whose name it might happen to be in – and this includes pensions as well. Having said this you need to be forewarned that there are some very significant exceptions to this general rule and legal advice must be obtained to find out in any given situation. As with the divorce issues discussed above, most property issues are resolved most of the time without the necessity of having to actually attend court. "Examinations for discovery" can be an important part of the process.
A few words more about "pensions". Pensions have special rules as to whether or not they are "matrimonial property" under the Matrimonial Property Act of Alberta. There are a series of cases from the Alberta courts (some right from the Supreme Court of Canada) which deal with pensions in the family law context. You need to get a family law lawyer or a divorce lawyer to explain how pensions work in the context of a break up. Generally pensions are property under the act but there is much more to it than this. Often the pension built up by the major bread winner in the family is the single biggest asset that the family owns. Just because it is in "their name" does not mean that the other party has no claim to it. There is more to it and all readers are advised strongly to obtain advice from a family lawyer or a divorce lawyer on all property issues and in particular on the pension issue.
Quite commonly, all matters are dealt with in an agreement negotiated between the parties. Such agreement in a matrimonial or family law or divorce law setting is often called a “Minutes of Settlement” agreement or a "Separation Agreement" or sometimes a "Legal Separation".
Getting divorced is a major event in anyone’s life. You owe it to yourself to give it the consideration that it deserves and to obtain strong legal advice at the earliest possible time. It really can make a difference.
The issues of divorce, custody, visitation, child support, alimony and property can be extremely emotional. These do not have to become confrontational or combative experiences, though they sometimes do. If all parties keep their emotions in check and are represented by capable lawyers, then it is very much the norm for all matters to be resolved without the necessity of court proceedings – but rather, via agreement. Frequently “examinations for discovery” are held which assist in resolving the issues. Over 80% of all cases are dealt with via negotiation and without the necessity of any trial courts.
Capable, calm, experienced family law counsel can help to keep things under control.
It is important, in considering who your Edmonton family lawyer is going to be, that you select one that is practical, experienced and knowledgeable of exactly how things work in Edmonton. They should have an office in Edmonton which is staffed full time and have been there for some years.
You can be sure that we have copies of the Divorce Act, the Child Support Guidelines and the Matrimonial Property Act at our Edmonton law firm office.
We are that counsel. We are that law firm. We are your Edmonton Family Lawyers.