Separation Lawyers in Calgary

When things between you and your spouse don’t work out, getting separated may be the next step. At DLegal, our separation lawyers understand this and are here to support you. We take care of the legal side of things, ensuring your rights are protected and you receive your fair share without the fear of unexpected legal disputes down the road. We’re here to lighten the emotional weight on your shoulders and guide you through this difficult time.

Getting separated is the first step towards a fresh start. However, no matter how amicable the separation, it can get quite complex when it comes to splitting property and responsibilities. What starts as a friendly negotiation between you and your partner can quickly turn into a full-blown dispute. Our Calgary separation lawyers can help prevent this and support you in all aspects of your separation, from agreements to divorce.

Our family lawyers are not just experienced but also empathetic and understanding. They are skilled in navigating the complex and sometimes emotionally charged process of ending a marital or common-law relationship. They can help you decide which separation or divorce is right for you and walk you through the process in detail, ensuring that you understand everything involved. Their expertise and guidance will ensure that your rights and interests are protected, and they will provide legal advice and represent you in negotiations or court if necessary.

Getting separated can be overwhelming, so we ensure you are always up to date with the process and understand all the aspects involved. We are not just your lawyers. We are trustworthy allies who want you to prosper in this new chapter of your life.

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DLegal Law Office - Bench

Understanding the Links Between Separation and Divorce

In Alberta, separation and divorce are distinct legal statuses. Separation occurs when married couples or common-law partners decide to live apart with the intention of ending the relationship. Unlike divorce, it does not legally end the marriage, meaning neither party can remarry. Divorce, however, is a legal dissolution of the marriage granted by a court judgment. While separated couples can resolve matters like asset division and child custody, a divorce is necessary to legally dissolve the marriage and allow for remarriage.

To get divorced in Alberta, at least one spouse must have lived in Alberta for at least one year before filing for divorce. You must have legal grounds for divorce, which can include living separate and apart for at least one year, adultery, or physical or mental cruelty. You also have to arrange for the division of property and assets and, if applicable, address matters related to child custody, access, and support. The divorce process involves filing a Statement of Claim for Divorce with the Court of King’s Bench and serving it to your spouse, after which there may be court appearances or negotiations to resolve disputes. Finally, a judge must grant a divorce judgment to legally end the marriage.

The Separation Process

Married Couples

For married couples, the process is guided by the Family Property Act, which ensures an equitable division of marital property.

According to the Act, property owned before the marriage or received as gifts or inheritance may be exempt, though the increase in their value might be divisible. The Act encourages resolving disputes through negotiation or mediation. However, if parties cannot agree, the court can decide on the division. Assets may be valued as of the separation date, and married couples have up to two years from their divorce or annulment to file a claim for property division.

Furthermore, Federal Child Support Guidelines help outline support and custody decisions by providing a formula for calculating child support payments that consider the payor’s income, number of children, and province of residence. These guidelines prioritize the best interests of any involved children. Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements can play a significant role as they can define the terms of asset division and financial arrangements beforehand, making the separation process more transparent and potentially less contentious.

Common Law Couples

Separation for common law couples, recognized as adult interdependent partners in Alberta, involves negotiating over asset division, support, and custody. However, without the automatic application of matrimonial property laws, these couples may rely on existing cohabitation agreements or choose to opt into the Family Property Act’s provisions. The provisions mirror those of married couples. However, common law couples have to make property division claims within two years from the date of separation.

Support and custody guidelines follow similar principles to those applied to married couples using the Federal Child Support Guidelines formula for calculating support payments. Formal agreements like a cohabitation agreement can influence these negotiations as they outline the relationship’s financial and care commitments.

What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between separating couples that outlines the terms of their separation. It covers the division of assets and debts, custody and visitation rights for any children, and provisions for spousal and child support. The agreement serves as a comprehensive record of the decisions made by both parties, offering a framework for their new relationship moving forward. It is essential to ensure that both parties understand and consent to the terms, with legal advice often recommended to navigate this process.

Both married couples and common law can craft this agreement with their separation lawyer. When crafting one, decide whether the separation is a step towards reconciliation or a precursor to divorce. This can affect how issues are addressed.

Key Considerations

Property and Debt Division

In Alberta, the division of property during a separation is governed by the principle of equitable distribution. This means that property acquired during the marriage is divided fairly, though not always equally. Factors such as the length of the relationship, contributions of each partner, and future financial needs are considered. Special rules apply to the division of the matrimonial home, debt, and pensions.

Spousal Support

Spousal support in Alberta serves to alleviate the financial disparities caused by separation, aiming to ensure equitable living standards for both individuals involved. It factors in the length of the relationship, each party’s financial situation, personal circumstances, and their respective contributions.

This support indirectly enhances the family’s stability, promoting a supportive environment for children. By maintaining financial stability, it also contributes to child welfare, ensuring that the children’s basic needs and well-being are continuously supported.

Child Support and Custody

If children are involved, decisions about their custody and visitation (parenting time) arrangements are crucial. This includes determining who the children will live with, visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent, and how decisions about the children’s welfare will be made.

Child support is mandated by the Federal Child Support Guidelines. It ensures financial contributions from both parents towards their child’s welfare post-separation, prioritizing the child’s best interests. These guidelines establish a method for calculating financial support, aiming to cover essential living expenses that contribute to the child’s upbringing.

When It’s Time to Contact a Separation Lawyer in Calgary

Alberta’s legal system can be complex, and getting assistance from one of our skilled and empathic separation lawyers can give you clarity and protect your legal rights and obligations during a separation. We can facilitate resolutions in an emotionally friendly and cost-effective manner by employing negotiation and mediation, safeguarding your financial interests, and ensuring that the division of assets is equal and that spousal and child support arrangements are fair. We can also help to draw up a proposed parenting plan.

Getting legal guidance from a DLegal separation lawyer is not just about adhering to rules and regulations, but also about securing a stable and positive future for all parties involved, including children.

At DLegal, our Calgary family lawyers know the ins and outs of Alberta separation and family law matters. We will guide you along every step of your separation with compassion and empathy. We will ensure that your separation procedure goes quickly and smoothly so you can start the next exciting chapter in your life as soon as possible.


Divorce Lawyer Calgary

Amicable Divorce Without Children / Spousal Support $1495
Amicable Divorce With Children OR Spousal Support $2245
Amicable Divorce With Children AND Spousal Support $2445
Consultation on contested family matters $350/hour**

* The flat rate applies to a standard joint or uncontested divorce package and does not include GST, disbursements (such as process server and court filing fees), and extra services.

** Depending on your situation, we offer 50% on the first hour

Lawyer & Notary
Anna Dunaeva

Anna perpetually works to surpass her clients' expectations. Through continuous communication, Anna delivers on her commitment to keep clients at the centre of her practice.

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