Family Law / Divorce Library

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Family court basics
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Family court basics

Family law matters might find themselves in either Provincial Court of the Court of King's Bench.

Provincial Court is generally easier for those without lawyers to navigate, and it's usually faster to get to a trial, but it cannot grant divorces or divide family property.

The Court of King's Bench can grant divorces and divide family property, but there are many rules and procedures which those without lawyers might find difficult to navigate.

The Court of Appeal hears appeals of matters decided in the Court of King's Bench. Appeals from the Provincial Court first go to the Court of King's Bench.


Court of King's Bench

A variety of Applications and procedures are available in the Court of King's Bench.

Some of the more common court hearings are set out in the following chart:

Anyone making a court Application in the Court of King's Bench with children under 16 years of age must generally take the mandatory online Parenting After Separation course: There are exceptions to this requirement, as set out in Family Law Practice Note 1:

Most court Applications in the Court of King's Bench are commenced by someone filing a "Notice to Attend Family Docket". Family Docket Court is a procedural court appearance where the next step, financial disclosure, and deadlines are addressed. The Notice to Attend Family Docket can be found at

From Family Docket Court, you might be directed to Regular Chambers, Special Chambers, or for substantial changes in parenting time or to divide property, you may be directed to a Trial.

Regular Chambers is where each party's arguments and the judge's decision are expected to take less than 20 minutes total. It is usually for simpler Applications, or where an immediate decision is required before Special Chambers (for example if no child support is being paid and the recipient has no other income or resources).

Each type of Chambers Application will require that Affidavits be filed. What needs to be filed, and what deadlines (unless directed otherwise in Docket), can be found in Family Law Practice Note 2: are set out in Family Law Practice Note 2:

Special Chambers can be booked for anywhere from one hour, an afternoon, or a full day. They are typically a few months away. You'll also need to file a Concise Letter, which is described in Family Law Practice Note 2, cited in the previous paragraph.

Sometimes full-day Special Chambers hearings might have some very limited witnesses testify on a specific issue, however Chambers Applications are generally based off of sworn Affidavits and attached Exhibits. The Court is generally unable to consider any facts not set out in these filed and served documents.

Some urgent matters can be addressed in Urgent Matters Chambers. Requirements and a list of qualifying issues can be found in this announcement: The Court later announced that some Applications would not be heard in Urgent Matters Chambers:

Some very simple court applications can be addressed through the Simple Desk Application process. It is in essence a mail-in Application with no argument, based solely on sworn Affidavits and proposed court orders. The list of issues qualifying for this process, and more information about the process, can be found at

Applications Judges can hear Applications to serve in an unconventional manner (substitutional service), foreign service (service ex juris), or permission to file a document that doesn't comply with the rules (fiats).

The Court of King's Bench procedural rules come from primarily the the Alberta Rules of Court ( and the Family Law Practice Notes (

The Court of King's Bench's family law forms can be located at

Provincial Court

The Provincial Court's Family Court can be accessed by filing a "Claim - Family Law Act", along with the corresponding Statements depending on the applications being sought.

The Court may then schedule a meeting with a caseworker, followed by an appearance in Docket.

The Application is then served on the other parent/partner, who can file their own Response and reply Statements.

Provincial Court forms can be located at

A "Request for Financial Information" can also be filed and served in order to obtain the other parent/partner's financial information.

Docket is a procedural court appearance to decide on the next step(s), and deadlines. That might include Alternative Dispute Resolution, Trial, a hearing based on the filed documents, or a variety of other procedures such as appointing a lawyer for the children to determine the Children's Views.

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Content by Ken Proudman of BARR LLP (Edmonton)

Last updated on January 21, 2023

Last complete review of all content on this page on November 11, 2022

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