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Answer to five commonly asked questions about family and divorce in Alberta

posted March 5, 2016
Family in Edmonton, representing the people who could need family law legal services in Alberta related to divorce and separation, child custody, child support, spousal support, prenuptials and cohabitation agreements, property division and domestic violence.

More information about divorce and

separation in Alberta

At Coley Hennessy Cassis Ewasko, our lawyers in
Edmonton provide services in family law and
collaborative divorce.

We can assist you in achieving a fair separation
agreement or divorce agreement efficiently.

Contact us for help as soon as you know you will be
separating or have begun a separation at 1-877-460-
Two Wedding Rings and a Gavel

Coley Hennessy Cassis Ewasko

, there are certain questions that new clients frequently ask at their first
meeting with a family lawyer in Edmonton. We outline these questions and answers here below in order to best serve
you and help you get the most out of your first meeting with a lawyer.

1. What is Family Law and What Areas Does it Cover?

Family law is an area of law that deals with family matters and domestic relationships. It covers pre-nuptial contracts,
marriage and common law relationships, marriage contracts, separation, divorce, custody, access, child support,
spousal support, division of family property, child abuse, child abduction, adoption, surrogacy, paternity testing, etc.

2. Common-Law Relationships

If two people live together for a reasonable period of time there are
potential financial issues that may arise including: potential claims
in relation to property, potential claims in relation to partner
support, and potential claims for support related to children born of
prior relationships that reside with the cohabiting couple.

It is a good idea to enter into a cohabitation agreement to set out
terms as to what will happen in the event the relationship breaks

If the cohabiting couple have children together they will need to
deal with issues related to parenting rights, parenting time and
child support in the event the relationship breaks down.

3. How is Debt Divided in the Event of a Divorce?

Property that was acquired by either or both spouses during the
marriage is divided equally between spouses when a marriage
ends, unless the request of the equal division would be unfair.
Commonly, matrimonial property, that is divided, includes the
home, household goods, RRSPs, business interests, debts, bank
accounts, etc. Property which might not be included includes
property acquired prior to the marriage by one spouse, was
received by one spouse as a gift or inheritance, and property
which was an award or settlement for damages in tort law received
by one spouse unless the award was meant to compensate both

4. How is an Annulment Different from a Divorce?

Unlike a divorce, which recognizes a marriage breakdown due to one year or more of separation, adultery or cruelty, an
annulment is the legal procedure to declare a marriage null and void. For example, if the spouse is a minor or mentally
disabled then a parent or legal guardian of the child can seek an annulment of the marriage. An annulment is usually
retroactive, unlike a divorce, such that the marriage is considered to be invalid from the beginning.

5. What is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative law is a legal process where couples work together with each other and their lawyer to voluntarily and
collaboratively achieve a reasonable separation agreement. A key benefit of collaborative law is that it entails achieving a
settlement that best meets the needs of both parties and their children without the underlying threat of litigation.
A Family Law Text Book and Gavel