Areas of Family Law

Child Support

In Alberta, the presumptive rule is that following a relationship breakdown a natural parent of a child must pay child support for that child while he or she is under the age of majority, and often until the child has finished his or her first post-secondary degree or diploma.  A non-biological parent who treated a child as his or her own may also be required to pay child support.

The amount of child support payable is determined using Alberta’s Child Support Guidelines and the Federal Child Support Tables.  A Family Judge will order a parent to pay a set monthly amount to cover basic living expenses and may also order the parent to contribute to a child’s special and extraordinary expenses such as non-insured medical and dental expenses.

Unless the parents agree or the Court orders otherwise, child support payments are collected and enforced by the Maintenance Enforcement Program.

Visit Family Law Legislation and Resources to learn what legislation applies to and what resources are available for child support claims.

Spousal Support

An unmarried partner who was in a relationship of interdependence, also known as a common law relationship, for a continuous period of at least 3 years or who has a natural or adopted child with his or her former partner, may be required to pay or may be entitled to receive, spousal support from the former partner.  In Alberta, this type of support is called Adult Interdependent Partner Support.  

The fact of having a child together does not in itself give rise to an adult interdependent partner support entitlement.  The parent seeking support must establish that the parents were in a relationship of interdependence of some permanence.

A Family Judge has the jurisdiction to order spousal support for a married former spouse who is not seeking a divorce.

Unless the parents agree or the Court orders otherwise, adult interdependent partner support payments are collected and enforced by the Maintenance Enforcement Program.

Visit Family Law Legislation and Resources to learn what legislation applies to and what resources are available for spousal support claims.

Parenting Arrangements

If parents are not able to resolve the parenting arrangements for their children following the breakdown of their relationship, a Family Judge may make a Parenting Order directing what the arrangements will be.  These arrangements may include where the children will primarily reside, how much time the children will spend with each parent, who is responsible for making important decisions affecting the children’s wellbeing and a dispute resolution process for any future disputes regarding parenting arrangements. 

An adult, such as a step-parent or grandparent, who is not a guardian of a child, but who wishes to spend time with the child, may apply to the Provincial Court for a Contact Order.  That time may be in person, by telephone, by e-mail or by social media.  The applicant would have no decision making powers with respect to the child.

Visit Family Law Legislation and Resources to learn what legislation applies to and what resources are available for parenting claims.

Child Protection

If a Director under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act is concerned that a child is in need of intervention and that the survival, security or development of the child is at risk, the Director may apply to the Provincial Court for:

  • an order permitting the Director to apprehend the child at risk;
  • a supervision order providing for the supervision of the child and the persons with whom the child resides;
  • a temporary guardianship order, if the Director feels it can be anticipated that within a reasonable time the child may be returned to the custody of the child’s guardian; or
  • a permanent guardianship order, if the Director believes it cannot reasonably be anticipated that the child could or should be returned to the custody of the child’s guardian within a reasonable period of time.

Visit Family Law Legislation and Resources to learn what legislation applies to and what resources are available for child protection cases.

Private Guardianship

A guardian of a child has certain entitlements (rights), responsibilities and powers with respect to that child.  A guardian is responsible for a child’s physical, psychological and emotional development and wellbeing and is required to make important decisions affecting the child. 

All birth mothers are automatically a guardian of their child.  The other parent will be a guardian in certain specified situations.  If an adult is not a parent to a child, but would like to be the child’s guardian, a private guardianship application can be made under the Family Law Act or the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.  

A child can have more than one guardian.  Particularly in child protection matters, there may be multiple adults seeking guardianship of a child.

Visit Family Law Legislation and Resources to learn what legislation applies to and what resources are available for private guardianship applications.