As a lawyer practising in the areas of divorce and family law in Calgary, one of the questions I am frequently asked by clients is: How do I start divorce proceedings in Calgary?
Fortunately, the answer to that question is relatively straightforward: Divorce proceedings are started by one of the parties filing a Statement of Claim for Divorce at the Courthouse in Calgary. The person that files such a document is referred to as the Plaintiff, and the other party is referred to as the Defendant.
However, before that can be done, the Plaintiff needs to decide: Am I only going to ask the Court to resolve issues of divorce (custody and access to the children, child support and spousal support) or am I also going to ask the Court to resolve the issue of the division of matrimonial property as well? If the former, the Plaintiff will file a Statement of Claim for Divorce; if the latter, the Plaintiff will file a Statement of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property.
Once the appropriate document has been filed with the Court, the Plaintiff will have to arrange for the document to be served upon the Defendant. The document cannot be served upon the Defendant by the Plaintiff.
Once service has been effected, the Defendant will have 20 days to file a response if the Defendant lives in Alberta, 1 month to file a response if the Defendant lives outside of Alberta, but within Canada, and 2 months to file a response if the Defendant lives outside of Canada.
If the Defendant elects not to file a response, in essence, the Court will assume that the Defendant agrees with the relief the Plaintiff is seeking and will allow the Plaintiff to proceed to obtain a Divorce Judgment without any further involvement from the Defendant.
If the Defendant files a response and serves the response upon the Plaintiff within the time frames referred to above, the Plaintiff will not be able to obtain a Divorce Judgment without the further involvement of the Defendant, unless the Court allows the Plaintiff to do so.
If you have any questions regarding the above, or if you have any questions regarding separation, divorce, custody, access, parenting, guardianship, division of property, child support or spousal support, please feel free to contact me on 403-538-2105, or via email using this link.