Everything You Need to Know About Divorce

The process of divorce, and even considering divorce, causes stress for most people. The financial, familial and emotional aspects overwhelm

Divorce Certificate

Divorce Certificate

many of our clients. Frequently, getting good information helps alleviate this stress. Since the unknowns cause a lot of the stress, consequently, solid information helps relive it. However, access accurate information challenges many people. To help, we have below everything you need to know about divorce in Alberta. Please note that this information is general. the specifics of your situation play a critical role in your legal position. If you have other questions or want to learn about your specific legal position, call the divorce lawyers at Kahane Law Office with both Calgary and Edmonton law offices.

What You Need To Know About Divorce Before Doing Anything Else

The first steps for people is fairly consistent. Ironically, the first step in what you need to know about divorce is how to avoid it and minimize its impact on you and your family. For example, we always suggest the following:

  1. Consider counselling for yourself, as a couple, and for your children. The Calgary Counselling Centre provides affordable counselling services on a sliding scale so that everyone can afford it. Additionally, if you have employer benefits or a health spending account a few sessions will often be covered for all family members;
  2. Enforce your parental rights. Courts generally look at the “status quo” parenting schedule for deciding what sort of interim parenting order to grant. We recommend parties work out the parenting schedule, before one of you moves out of the matrimonial home.  Often times there will be two parenting schedules needed, the initial one (which is temporary based on the fact the matrimonial home needs to be sold) and the primary parenting schedule, which is the more permanent schedule, and only subject to change upon a change in circumstance of the parties or the children.

Lawyers And Mediation

  1. Consider mediation. There are a number of professional mediators, both lawyers and non-lawyers. One thing that people need to know about divorce is that they help many people settle their issues without court. Kahane Law provides mediation services for couples that are looking to work together immediately following their separation;
  2. Find a lawyer who fits your case. Some lawyers have more time to focus on your important case. Other lawyers work better with clients that are detail oriented. Some lawyers will coach you or work on your behalf in the background to save you legal fees.


  1. Secure financing for legal fees. You can expect for any lawyer to ask for $2,000 to $5,000 to be held in trust so that they can get started working on resolving your case. This is just an initial retainer.  The longer the file goes on, the more money that is needed to pay lawyers and other professionals.  Generally speaking, the less the parties agree on, the more expensive your case will be. Ensure you have credit available or keep savings in a separate account earmarked for legal fees. Many lawyers at Kahane offer flat fee rates for separation agreements and uncontested divorces instead of hourly fees. This applies only once you reach a settlement; and lastly
  2. Collect financial information.  At a minimum, outline your income, asset and debts prior to your first consult with a lawyer.

What You Need To Know Before Filing For Divorce

After you determined that you need to divorce, things you need to know about divorce then include several factors. For example, consider the following:

If You Have Children:

  1. Complete the Parenting After Separation (PAS) course online. You will need to file this with the Courts during your divorce. Register for free here: https://pas.albertacourts.ab.ca/;
  2. Speak with your lawyer about the important issues of the Parenting Time and how it affects Child Support. You will need to state what parenting schedule and child support amounts you are seeking when you file your divorce; and lastly
  3. Continue to assess your children throughout the process to see how they are handling the divorce.  They may need a counsellor later in the process even though they didn’t need one at the initial stages.

In All Cases (With Or Without Children)

  1. Locate or order an original marriage certificate and provide it to your lawyer for filing;
  2. Discuss the issue of spousal support with your lawyer. Even if you are not seeking spousal support (or alimony), you should discuss the possibility of your spouse seeking it from you. The law on spousal support is very complicated and best explained by a lawyer rather than through a google search.  All of Kahane Law’s Family Lawyers understand this topic in depth and can assist;
  3. Decide whether you wish to file a divorce claim, or a divorce and division of matrimonial property claim. A divorce claim simply seek a divorce. If you want the court to deal with the division of your property as well, you will need to file additional material. Typically a party will file both a divorce and division of property statement at the same time to save costs and ensure all the steps are covered at once; and lastly
  4. Provide your lawyer with contact information and a clear photo of your spouse for when they need to serve your spouse with the divorce claim.

What You Need To Know About Divorce Before You Finalize The Divorce

The next step involves the things you need to know about divorce before the actual finalization of the divorce itself. This stage also sees people get themselves into trouble. A few basics exist to avoid more stress. For example, these include:


  1. Most parties need a separation agreement. Parties will most likely require a separation agreement if one of the parties is keeping the matrimonial home or if either them is seeking a waiver of spousal support. This document requires a lawyer witnessing it for each party.  This Agreement will set out all the issues you are settling: parenting, child support, spousal support and property division;
  2. If your Separation Agreement is taking a long time to process and settlement is not occurring quickly, you can look into the option of severing the divorce from the other issues.   This means you are technically divorced, with the other issues to be resolved later.  Two key reasons to not severe the divorce 1) There are Retirement Assets that will be part of a ‘tax free’ rollover and 2) There are not reasonable child support arrangements in place.


  1. Every pension plan is different.  It is important you talk to your pension administrator about the process and effect of completing the Divorce before the finalizing property division. Some pensions have rules about when you can divide them. We usually recommend that you divide or otherwise deal with any other pensions before finalizing the divorce;
  2. Parties can do a tax free rollover of RRSP’s prior to their divorce. This is commonly done to make it so that both parties end up with equal RRSPs after they separate.  If the Divorce is done too soon, the tax free part of this rollover is eliminated and tax consequences are incurred as a result.

Dower Rights

  1. Speak to your lawyer about any dower issues. Once divorced, the Dower Act no longer applies to your case. If you believe that your spouse transferred title of your matrimonial home without your signature, hold off on the divorce until dealing with the Dower issue. This is very important!

Getting The Help And Information You Need For Divorce

Make sure that you understand everything you need to know about divorce in Alberta before you go too far down that road. A simple 60-90 minute consultation provides you with all the basic information about your legal position. This allows you to make informed choices moving forward. You need no retainer for a consultation. To schedule a consultation with a member of our family law team to discuss divorce, please contact our experienced team at Kahane Law Office. You can reach us locally in Calgary at (403) 225-8810 or call us in Edmonton at (780) 571-8463 (Also toll-free at 1-877-225-8817), or email us directly here.