Family Law Act

What is the Family Law Act?

The Family Law Act (FLA) came into effect on October 1, 2005. This Act replaces the Domestic Relations Act, the Parentage and Maintenance Act, the Maintenance Order Act, the family law provisions of the Provincial Court Act, and part of the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act that deals with private guardianship. The Family Law Act also amends other legislation.

The FLA governs guardian-child relationships (guardians can include parents, but they do not have to be parents). More specifically, it lays out the rights and obligations of guardians. The FLA is simpler and easier to understand compared to its predecessor and it addresses many issues of family life important to Albertans. Some of its goals include providing alternatives to resolving conflicts outside the courtroom and streamlining the court procedure.

Last Reviewed: June, 2015

Are there any other kinds of family relationships covered by the Family Law Act?

Yes. The Family Law Act covers issues outside of gaurdian-child relationships like:

  • contact orders (especially as it relates to other family members and grandparents)
  • support in Adult Interdependent Relationships

Last Reviewed: June, 2015

Are there issues that the Family Law Act does not address?

Yes. The Family Law Act does not address:

  • child welfare matters under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act;
  • adoptions under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act;
  • a divorce action under the federal government Divorce Act;
  • children’s property under the Minor’s Property Act;
  • division of property under the Matrimonial Property Act;
  • the definition of adult interdependent partners under the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act.

Last Reviewed: June, 2015

What were the Amendments to the Family Law Act in 2010?

In 2010, the Family Law Act was amended to ensure it operates as intended. The amendments focus on four main areas:

  • Court Jurisdiction
    • The Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Court will both continue to have jurisdiction under the FLA. The Court of Queen’s Bench has jurisdiction over all matters under the FLA and the Provincial Court has jurisdiction over most matters, unless limited by the Constitution. However, jurisdiction has been slightly amended to allow a party in a FLA proceeding to make an application in the court in which the proceeding was originally brought, for an order transferring the matters in issue to the other court (ie: from Court of Queen’s Bench to Provincial court or visa-versa).
  • Establishing Parentage
    • The Family Law Act defined the parents of a child as the birth mother and the biological father, unless there has been an adoption, or the child is conceived through assisted human reproduction (AHR). This amendment lays out the specific rules for parentage when a child is born as a result of AHR.
  • Guardianship, Parenting and Contact Orders and Enforcement of Time with a Child
    • The FLA specified the powers, rights, responsibilities and entitlements of guardianship. The amendment specifies what defines a guardian automatically by operation of law.
  • Support Obligations
    • The obligations of every parent and anyone “standing in the place of a parent” were explained in the Family Law Act. The amendments make no substantive changes to this area, but it does clarify the fact that a child can have two fathers or two mothers and not just one father and one mother.

Last Reviewed: June, 2015

Where can I get further information about the Family Law Act?

There are several sources of information about the Act:

  • LawCentral Alberta has a section on the Family Law Act with useful links.
  • Alberta Justice website at [1].
  • Copies of the Act and regulations can be obtained from the Alberta Queen’s Printer website at www.qp.gov.ab.ca.
  • An overview of the amendments from 2010 can be found at http://justice.alberta.ca/programs_services/families/Publications_Library_Families/AmendmentsFamilyLawAct.aspx
  • Your lawyer can help if you have questions or need legal advice on personal family law matters. If you do not have a lawyer, call the Law Society’s Lawyer Referral Service toll-free in Alberta at 1-800-661-1095.
  • Maintenance Enforcement Program can help with enforcement of support orders – call (780) 422-5555.
  • Alberta Children’s Services can help with child welfare protection concerns or adoptions. Call (780) 644-9992.
  • If you are on a low income and need help getting a child support order, contact Alberta Employment and Immigration at 780-415-6400 (Edmonton) or 403-297-6060 (Calgary) to connect with the Child Support Services Program.
  • Alberta Seniors and Community Development Office of the Public Guardian can help with personal care of dependent adults. Call 310-0000 toll-free to connect to any of the Alberta offices.
  • Office of the Public Trustee can be reached at (780) 427-2744 for financial matters on children’s estates or dependent adults.
  • Alberta Education regarding registration of children at school – call (780) 427-7219.
  • To find a mediator, see Alberta Family Mediation Society at www.afms.ca.
  • For more FAQs, please visit Legal Aid Alberta.
  • Please note that all Alberta government departments can be reached toll-free by calling the RITE line at 310-0000.

Last Reviewed: June, 2015

See Also

For more information, see these other Canadian Legal FAQs.

Links

  • Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta – Family Law Series (click on Family Law) Booklets in the series include information on: Child custody and Parenting, Financial Support, Property Division for Married and Unmarried Couples, Young Parent, and Representing Yourself in Family Court
  • Alberta Courts – Property Division for Unmarried Couples
  • Court Forms for Matters under the Family Law Act
  • Videos produced by Alberta Justice – Resolution Services.  – The videos provide information on the following:
    • A guide to divorce where there are dependent children, one spouse prepares the paperwork, and the other spouse is served with that paperwork.
      This video tells you about: what an uncontested divorce is.
    • A guide to divorce without dependent children, one spouse prepares the paperwork, and the other spouse is served with that paperwork. This video tells you about: how to fill in the Statement of Claim for Divorce.
    • A guide to divorce where there are dependent children, both spouses do the paperwork together, and come to the courthouse together.
    • A guide to divorce where there are no dependent children, both spouses do the paperwork together, and come to the courthouse together.
  • Parenting After Separation: Online Course
    This eCourse is a six hour seminar offering information to parents about separation and divorce process, the effects of separation and divorce on children, techniques for communication and legal information that affects parents and children.
  • Student Legal Services – Family Law Project –  Information on divorce, separation, parenting time, child and spousal support, and matrimonial property
  • LegalAve – LegalAve is a starting point for Albertans who are looking for legal information on family law.
  • Student Legal Services – Children at Risk – Child Welfare: A 2015 Alberta Guide to the Law
  • Edmonton Community Legal Centre (ECLC) – Filing Fee Waiver Program
    The Edmonton Community Legal Centre is a non profit organization that offers free legal information, advice and representation for people living with low income in the Edmonton area. The Centre helps individuals and families who have legal problems in the following areas: Landlord and Tenant; Family Law (children and guardianship, custody, child and spousal support, marriage, relationships, and property and maintenance) Small Claims; Income Support Advocacy; Human Rights; and Immigration. The Centre offers a filing fee waivers program , which reduces the fee for certain documents filed to individuals who meet eligibility requirements. The program covers documents filed with the: Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Service (RTDRS), Provincial Court, Court of Queen’s Bench, and the Alberta Court of Appeal. For more information contact ECLC at : 780-702-1725.
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