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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
This topic discusses Court appearances on various family matters in the Family Division of Provincial Court. If you require legal advice on any of these matters, you should consult a lawyer. You may represent yourself in Provincial Court and present your concerns to the Judge or you may have legal representation if you feel you need it. When you appear in Provincial Court and feel that you do need a lawyer, ask the Judge for an adjournment in order to obtain legal counsel for yourself.
The Family Division of the Provincial Court deals only with certain family matters. For example, you cannot ask the Judge in Provincial Court to decide on matters concerning your divorce. Divorce matters are dealt with in the Court of Queen’s Bench. However, you may make applications concerning the financial support for your children in Provincial Court. You may also ask for guardianship, parenting and contact time issues to be resolved. If the other party does not obey the terms of any order granted in Provincial Court, you can return to Court to have the Order enforced.
An Order of the Provincial Court may be changed or varied by going back to Provincial Court. However, the Court will not change an Order unless your situation is substantially different than it was when the original order was granted.
The Family Law Information Centre will assist you with your applications in Provincial Court. They will assist you in completing your applications forms, getting a Court date and filing the necessary documents with the Court Clerk. They will not provide legal advice on your matter if your Order was issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench, you must return to that Court to vary the previous Order.
The Family Law Information Centre can also refer you to mediation services to settle guardianship, parenting, contact time and financial support matters. Mediation is a process where a Mediator who is a neutral third party assists you and your spouse in reaching a resolution. It is an alternative method to resolving your disputes instead of going to Court where the decision is made by the Judge. Mediation can prevent bitter and costly legal battles and is offered without charge for those that qualify for its services.
The Provincial Court also has jurisdiction to hear applications for Mental Health Warrants. The Family Law Information Centre will also assist you with applications for Mental Health Warrants and guardianship applications.
The Provincial Court Family Division will also hear applications concerning child welfare issues. These are matters where child and family services are involved with a family. The Family Law Information Centre does not assist with these matters. If you require assistance, ask the Court for an adjournment to obtain legal counsel.
Family Courts are located in various cities and towns across Alberta, on different days and at different times. Call the Court nearest to you to find out when Family Court will be sitting in your town.