What to Expect From an Uncontested Divorce in Alberta
It’s natural to have questions after you make the decision to file for divorce in Alberta. Many people are curious to discover if they qualify for an uncontested divorce. What is an uncontested divorce? You sometimes hear this option referred to as a “desk divorce”. In other cases, people refer to it as a “joint divorce”, however, there is a difference between the two. Continue reading to find out more.
What makes a no-contest divorce appealing for many people seeking an amicable, fast route to separation in Alberta is that there’s no need to appear in front of a judge. Every aspect of the divorce judgment is handled tidily from the desk of a judge. Such a process reduces cost, is time-efficient and above all, reduces conflict between the parties, all of which can be beneficial to the parties’ children and post-divorce relationship.
The “ease” of a joint divorce action doesn’t diminish the reality that you’re taking a very important legal step that could have serious implications. It’s important to be represented by a family law lawyer from the start.
Contact our law office online or call (780) 760-7234 with your questions if you’re preparing to file for divorce.
What Do Uncontested Divorces Look Like?
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree to the terms of a divorce without court intervention. A no-contest divorce is generally a quick, conflict-free process. However, very specific procedures regarding how papers must be served and submitted for a court filing exist.
What is the difference between a Joint Divorce and an Uncontested Divorce?
Both processes are similar in that they both ultimately lead to a divorce certificate in an amicable fashion, however, depending on which option is used there are different procedures in place resulting in different costs.
In a joint divorce, both parties jointly apply for a divorce and as a result, there is no need to “serve” the other party. This reduces the expenses related to service of divorce papers. Further the parties are referred to as “Spouse 1” and “Spouse 2” which greatly reduces the contentious nature of the traditional divorce process, where the party who files for divorce is known as a “Plaintiff” and the other party is known as a “Defendant”.
In an uncontested divorce, one of the parties starts out with filing the divorce papers on their own as the “Plaintiff” and serves the other party, the “Defendant”. However, after being served, the “Defendant” either does nothing or simply advises the “Plaintiff”, that they also want a divorce and are willing to resolve all issues without the court’s intervention. This is more common in cases where parties have been separated for some time and simply have not communicated between themselves regarding their intentions. Although the “Plaintiff” incurred the additional expense of serving the divorce papers, the rest of the process can still be smooth if both parties agree to cooperate and agree to an uncontested divorce (aka a “desk divorce”).
What Issues Do I Need to Resolve Before Being Granted a No-Contest Divorce?
Both parties must be in agreement regarding details of a settlement before they can file for a no-contest divorce. That includes things like custody, visitation rights, child support, spousal support and division of matrimonial property. Both spouses must also be in agreement regarding the grounds for marital breakdown.
The settlement terms can be reduced to a written contract. Unfortunately, in some cases, differing opinions regarding separation agreements move couples into the “contested” category. As a result, it is best to engage an experienced family law lawyer early on in the process who can also assist with the drafting of a separation agreement, usually for a flat-rate fee.
What Are the Advantages of an Uncontested Divorce?
Many people find a no-contest divorce to be a more peaceful, amicable path than a contested divorce. The obvious advantage is that you aren’t required to appear in front of a judge. You are instead represented via affidavit evidence that is submitted by your lawyer on your behalf.
Cost is another factor that makes a no-contest divorce very attractive. You can anticipate spending considerably less on legal fees when opting for a desk divorce. A desk divorce eliminates the need to cover billable hours related to client meetings, settlement negotiations and court appearances. Contested divorces, especially ones involving custody battles, can cost tens of thousands of dollars. In contrast, desk divorces are usually billed on a simple flat-rate fee, which can be an astonishingly small fraction of what contested divorces typically end up costing.
An uncontested divorce can also be considerably faster than a contested divorce. This often provides an incredible emotional benefit for all parties involved. No, uncontested divorces aren’t instant. However, it’s reasonable to expect a no-contest divorce to be settled by a judge a few weeks after it’s been submitted for review.
This is a big contrast to the potentially arduous process of setting court dates around personal, lawyer and court schedules. In addition, the Rules of Court relating to contested divorces can also make the process quite complex and time-consuming.
If you have questions about how to get through this process smoothly, reach out online or call (780) 760-7234.
What Are the Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Alberta?
Some basic requirements must be satisfied before a judge will grant a desk divorce here in Alberta. The first is that both parties must demonstrate and verify a breakdown of the marriage. The most common ground for a divorce is a separation of one year between the parties. In those cases, the court requires a couple to live separately and apart for at least one year before a divorce can be granted. While it’s possible to begin the process prior to the one-year mark, no divorce will be granted until the one-year requirement is satisfied.
If parties have children, a court will not grant a divorce until the court has been satisfied that reasonable arrangements have been made for the support of any children. In addition, parties may also be required to complete a course related to parenting after separation.
At least one of the parties must have an Alberta residency before a divorce can be considered by a court in Alberta. Residency must be in place for one year before a divorce is filed. You’ll also be required to produce an original marriage certificate.
The court also wants to see a photo of the spouse you are divorcing. These requirements are in place to assure the accuracy of identity for the court.
As you can see, even with an uncontested divorce, there are a lot of technical requirements that must be met before a court will grant a divorce. Let our law office help you make sure you’re covering every requirement when you contact us online or call (780) 760-7234.
What Is the Typical Cost for an Alberta No-Contest Divorce?
The cost of a no-contest divorce is significantly lower than the cost of a contested divorce. Most lawyers will typically charge a flat rate fee plus GST and disbursements (such as the cost to file your court papers and the cost of serving your ex-spouse). Safi Law Group offers very competitive flat rates for uncontested divorces as well as drafting separation agreements. Our team is very pleased to assist clients who would prefer to resolve their divorce in a peaceful and amicable manner.
Don’t File for Divorce Without Help From an Alberta Lawyer
Make sure you have a lawyer with experience in family law advising you every step of the way. An Alberta no-contest divorce is often the simplest option. Our law firm can help you decide if it’s the right one. Contact us online or call (780) 760-7234 to get a supportive, knowledgeable team on your side before you start the divorce process.
Many people find a no-contest divorce to be a more peaceful, amicable path than a contested divorce. You can anticipate spending considerably less on legal fees when opting for a desk divorce. Contact Safi Law Group to learn more about the benefits of an uncontested divorce.