Before you file

Before you file for a divorce, we encourage you to:

You may want to contact a lawyer for legal advice.

If you have dependent children

You’ll be required to take the Parenting After Separation course.

If you were married outside of Canada

You can file for divorce in Alberta if you or your partner have lived in Alberta for 1 year.

Grounds for divorce

There are 3 legally accepted grounds for divorce, according to the Divorce Act:

  • separation
  • adultery
  • cruelty

Separation

Separation is when you and your spouse have lived apart for at least 1 year before a divorce judgment is made by the court.

You can start the divorce action during the 1-year period, but you must wait until the year has passed to file for a divorce.

Due to financial or other family circumstances, you and your spouse may decide to live in the same home during the year of separation. You’ll be required to provide evidence that you were separated during that time.

You’re allowed to resume your relationship with your spouse for up to 90 days during the 1-year separation.

Adultery

Adultery is when a married person has sex with someone other than their spouse.

If your spouse committed adultery, you can file for divorce on these grounds any time after it becomes known.

Adultery must be proven in court, either with:

  • evidence, or
  • an affidavit signed by the person who committed adultery

Cruelty

Cruelty only has to occur once. This is when either spouse commits physical or mental cruelty to the other spouse, including:

  • violence
  • constant verbal abuse (for example, insults or threats)
  • drunkenness
  • excessive drug use

Your spouse’s cruelty must be so severe that it makes living together impossible.

If your spouse has been cruel to you, you can file for a divorce at any time.

Evidence of the cruelty is required.

Uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is where these issues have been settled:

  • custody
  • access (parenting)
  • support

The Alberta Courts website has instructions and forms for an uncontested divorce.

The forms do not deal with property division.

If you need help finding the right form you can speak with a court forms information coordinator for assistance.