Glossary: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W
Access : Parenting time with a child. Under the terms of the Divorce Act, a spouse exercising access rights is also entitled to information about the child's health, welfare and education, unless a Court orders otherwise.
Action Number: The file number given to a legal action when the initiating documents are filed at the Courthouse. All subsequent documents filed in the same matter will have the same action number.
Adoption: The legal process whereby a biological parent's legal rights and obligations to a child are terminated and acquired by the adoptive parties.
Adjournment: Rescheduling a Court application to a later date. To adjourn a Court application to a later date, parties must either advise the Court they have agreed to an adjournment or apply to Court for permission to adjourn their Court application.
Adult Interdependent Partner: Alberta legislation defines the term Adult Interdependent partner, to be a person who has lived with another person in a relationship of interdependence:
  • for a continuous period of three years; or
  • of some permanence, if there is a child of the relationship of the relationship; or
  • if there is an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement.
Adultery: Sexual intercourse by a husband or wife with a person who is not his or her spouse.
Affidavit: This is a voluntary, written statement of facts sworn/affirmed before a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public.
Affidavit of Execution: An Affidavit which is sworn by one person that they have witnessed another person who is known to them or whose identity they have verified, sign a document.
Affidavit of Service: An Affidavit which describes where and how a document was served upon a person or entity related to the legal action.
Affirm: To declare solemnly and formally, but not under oath.
Alternative Dispute Resolution: Alternative methods to resolve disputes without litigious action. Some of the alternative dispute resolution methods are Judicial Dispute Resolution, Mediation, Collaborative Law, and Arbitration.
Appeal: A petition for review by a higher level Court of a Court Order or judgment granted by a lower level Court. The reviewing Court may uphold or confirm the Order, change it or send the matter back to the lower level Court for reconsideration.
Applicant: The party who initiates an application.
Application: A written request filed with the Court for a Judge to grant an Order, interim Order or whatever form of relief a party is seeking, usually with evidence in the form of Affidavits.
Arrears: Unpaid sums of money for child or spousal support.
Certificate of Divorce:A document which certifies parties are finally divorced. It is required by divorced people when they apply for a marriage license to remarry. It may be obtained from the Clerk of the Court 30 days after a Divorce Judgment is granted.
Certificate of Lis Pendens: A certificate which may be filed on title to real property indicating that a law suit is pending which may have an impact upon the ownership of the property.
Chambers (Court): A term commonly used to refer to the Courtroom where interim applications will be heard by a Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench, relying on Affidavit evidence.
Child Support: Payments made or received that are intended to support your children are considered child support. Children should continue to benefit from the financial means of both parents just as they would if the parents were still together. Therefore, if you are divorced or separated from the other parent, you are both responsible for financially supporting your children.
Clerk of the Court: An officer of the Court whose responsibilities include maintaining the records of a Court, reviewing documents filed at the Court and schedules courtrooms for trials, etc.
Commissioner for Oaths: A person who is authorized by the Province of Alberta to administer oaths.
Costs: Compensation awarded to a successful party to be paid by the unsuccessful party. The actual amount of money awarded is at the discretion of the Judge who hears the application or trial.
Counterclaim: A legal document which is filed at Court, usually in conjunction with a Statement of Defence, in which the Defendant makes a claim against the Plaintiff.
Court Order: A document which describes the matters ordered by a Judge, is signed by a Judge, filed at Court and served to all parties or their counsel.
Custody: The legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right of the parent to make major decisions for the child, and the parent's duty to care for the child. There are two core types of custody: joint legal custody and sole legal custody. Custody arrangements can be set down in a written agreement or they may also be determined by the Court.
Default: Failure to appear in Court or defend a lawsuit.
Default Judgment: A judgment which is granted to a party if the other party has failed to either respond to a notice of a legal action or an application or have not provided a defence.
Defendant: The party who has a claim filed against them.
Dependent: A person who relies on someone else for financial support.
Desk Divorce: A term used for finalizing an uncontested divorce by submitting documents to the Court, such that the parties and /or their lawyers are not required to attend Court and appear before a Justice.
Disbursements: Out-of-pocket expenses that are incurred on a client’s behalf. These expenses can include such things as filing and search fees at the Court House, Sheriff’s Office, Corporate Registry, Vehicle Registry, Personal Property Registry, Land Titles Office, witness fees, various commercial due diligence searches, transcripts, expert reports, court runners, long distance telephone charges, delivery/courier charges, online research charges, process services, postage, parking, travel expenses, court reporters, process servers and all other expenditures incurred on a client’s behalf.
Divorce: The final termination of a marital union, cancelling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties.
Divorce Judgment: A Court judgment which terminates a marriage. A Divorce Judgment must be obtained prior to obtaining a Certificate of Divorce.
Domestic Special: An extended hearing for addressing domestic issues that are too involved or lengthy for morning chambers. Domestic Specials are usually heard in the afternoon and require advance filings of Affidavits, Briefs and/or Letters to Justice.
Evidence: Information or materials intended to prove or disprove allegations and facts in a case.
Ex Parte Order: Ex Parte is Latin for "one side only". An Ex Parte Order is a Court Order granted without notice having been given to the other party.
Federal Child Support Guidelines: Federal law governing the calculation of child support.
Filing a Document: The act of submitting a document to the clerk of the Court for immediate consideration and for storage in the Court’s files.
Evidence: To obtain a divorce in Canada, a spouse must satisfy a Court that there has been a breakdown of the marriage for one of the following specific reasons (grounds):
  • the spouses having lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce; or
  • the committing of adultery; or
  • the treatment of a spouse with mental or physical cruelty.
Guardianship: A legal right and duty to care for someone who is incapable of caring for themselves. Guardianship status is automatically bestowed on the mother of a child. Guardianship status is automatically bestowed on the father of a child born to married parents. In Alberta, other circumstances whereby a person can become a Guardian are set out in the Family Law Act.
Guideline Income: The amount of income used to calculate child support payable pursuant to the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Grounds for Divorce: In Alberta, a Judge is appointed by the Provincial Government and presides over a Provincial Court Courtroom while a Justice is appointed by the Federal Government presides over a Court of Queen's Bench Courtroom.
Judgment: A final decision of the Court. This is usually the order made at the conclusion of a trial or as a Consent Order which contains the final agreement of the parties.
Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR): A form of alternative dispute resolution, in which a Justice or Judge meets with opposing parties and their counsel to facilitate a discussion/mediation, in an attempt to resolve the matters in dispute.
Jurisdiction: The legal authority of a Court to hear and provide a decision with respect to a dispute.
Litigation: The steps taken to have a matter determined by a Court, once one party sues or files a claim against another party.
Maintenance: Financial support for a child or a former spouse or partner.
Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP): A government program which collects child support and spousal support payments from payors and remits the funds collected to recipients of support, who have enrolled with MEP.
Marriage: The voluntary union of one adult to another, which leads to legal rights and obligations.
Marriage Breakdown: The grounds for legally ending a marriage under the Divorce Act. The marriage breakdown can be established in three ways:
  • the spouses having lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce; or
  • committed adultery; or
  • treatment of a spouse with mental or physical cruelty.
Matrimonial Home: The home in which a married couple primarily resided.
Mediation: A form of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is a voluntary process in which a third party (the mediator) assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement and to help the parties resolve their dispute.
Mediation/Arbitration: A hybrid form of alternative dispute resolution where a third party (the mediator/arbitrator) assists the parties to negotiate their own settlement and to help the parties resolve their dispute. In the event of a failure of the mediation, the arbitrator will conduct an arbitration hearing and then issue a binding decision in the form of an Arbitration Award.
Mediator: A trained professional neutral party who assists in negotiations and conflict resolution.
Mobility: The legal ability of a parent to move a child's residence to another City, Province, or Country.
Negotiation: The process of resolving a conflict through oral or written offers to settle.
Oath: A solemn promise to speak the truth, which God, a holy person or sacred object is invoked to confirm the witness’ commitment to speak truthfully.
Order: The Court’s written decision on a disputed matter.
Parenting After Separation Courts (PASS): In Alberta, PASS is a mandatory free six hour workshop that is designed to provide separating parties with the tools and strategies to reduce the negative effect of a divorce or separation on children.
Plaintiff: The individual who files a Statement of Claim initiating a legal action against the opposing party or Defendant.
Pleadings: A collective term referring to particular documents filed with the Court in a legal action. A Statement of Claim, Statement of Defence, Demand of Notice and Counterclaim, are all pleadings.
Questioning: A process in which a party to legal action is questioned about their case under oath. A transcript of the questions and answers is prepared and may be filed with the Court.
Reconciliation: When a separated couple resumes their relationship.
Respondent: A party in a legal proceeding who is served with an opposing party's application.
Restraining Order: A legal injunction that requires that a party refrain from making contact with another person. A party that refuses to comply with the Order may be taken into police custody and face other sanctions.
Retainer: The Agreement you sign when you hire a lawyer to take your case. It can also refer to a retainer fee, which is the sum of money you give to the lawyer and is applied to fees and disbursements.
Rules of Court: The Regulations that govern the procedure for litigation in Alberta Court.
Section 3 Child Support: Under Section 3 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the amount paid for the support of one’s children on a monthly basis. In general terms, Section 3 child support is allocated to provide food, clothing and shelter for the children.
Section 7 Expenses: Under Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the parties typically contribute to "extra-ordinary" child expenses proportionate to their incomes over and above Section 3 child support. Section 7 expenses include but are not limited to:
  • child care expenses;
  • medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
  • health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement;
  • expenses for primary or secondary school education or programs;
  • expenses for post-secondary education; and
  • expenses for extracurricular activities.
Separate/Separation: To cease living together as a couple, with the intention not to resume their relationship. Under certain circumstances it is possible for individuals to be separated, although they live in the same residence.
Serve documents: Delivery of documents, usually on the opposing party directly. Strict rules govern how documents may be properly served. Once a document is served, an Affidavit of Service may need to be filed.
Sine Die: Latin phrase meaning "without day". This term is usually used to refer to an adjournment of a Court application, without assigning a specific date for a further hearing.
Spousal Support: When a married couple separates or divorces, the spouse with the higher income sometimes pays money to the spouse with the lower income to take into consideration the financial impact of the divorce so that the outcome is fair. This money is called spousal support.
Spouse: A married person or a person defined to be a spouse pursuant to the Adult Interdependent Relations Act.
Statement of Claim: A legal document which is filed at Court to commence a law suit. A Statement of Claim sets out the relief sought by the party initiating the legal action and the grounds for the relief claimed. The individual who files a Statement of Claim is known as the Plaintiff.
Statement of Claim for Divorce and Division of Matrimonial Property: A legal document which is filed at Court to commence a divorce. It sets out as relief a divorce, corollary relief and the division of matrimonial property.
Statement of Defence: The legal document which is filed at Court when the individual being sued, the Defendant, disputes all or part of the relief sought in a Statement of Claim.
Style of Cause: The information listed on a Court document which identifies the names of the parties, the name of the document and the Court where the matter will be heard.
Supervised Access: Visitation to a child which is monitored. The supervisor may be another adult as agreed between the parties or a paid professional.
Table Support: The amount of child support payable pursuant to the Federal Child Support Guidelines tables.
Trial: A process in which a Judge or Justice is asked to determine disputed matters, on a final basis, after hearing oral evidence from the parties to the legal action or from other witnesses.
Uncontested Divorce: A divorce where the parties have either agreed on the terms of the divorce and the division of matrimonial property or are amicable and are both willing to finalize the divorce.
With Prejudice: Communication which may be presented to a Court as evidence, at a future date.
Without Prejudice: Communication which may not be presented to a Court as evidence. Ordinarily communication made to negotiate a settlement and communication during mediation is made on a without prejudice basis.
Witness: A person who testifies under oath in a trial (or a deposition which may be used in a trial if the witness is not available) with first-hand or expert evidence useful in a legal action.-OR-A person who observes the signing of a document like a Will or a Contract and signs as a witness on the document attesting that the document was signed in the presence of the witness.