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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 how to apply for a child or spousal support Order when your spouse or former partner lives outside the province of Alberta.
Support payments for yourself and your children may be arranged by agreement or by Court. Try to reach an agreement with your spouse first. Contact your spouse wherever they live and see if a satisfactory arrangement for financial support can be made. If you and your spouse are able to agree on the financial support payments, you need to have your agreement written by up a lawyer. [AB1] The agreement must have certain formalities to be legally binding. It must be written and specify the details of the agreement you reached including the amount of support to be provided by one party to the other. You will both require independent legal advice when signing the contract.
If you cannot agree on support, an application for support can be made to the Family and Youth Court Division of Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench. You may want to consult with a lawyer before you make your application to either Court.
If your application is made in Provincial Court, ask the Clerks at the Family Court Services desk for a claim and all necessary forms for child and/or spousal support. If you cannot attend personally, call them and ask to have the forms mailed to you or obtain the forms on the Alberta Courts website at www.albertacourts.ab.ca under Provincial Court, Family Court Forms. Once your have filled out the forms and returned them to Family Court, a hearing date will be set.
If your application is made at the Court of Queen’s Bench, contact the Family Law Information Center for the necessary forms. Their phone number is Calgary is 403-297-6600 and in Edmonton, 780-415-0404. For toll-free access to these offices from elsewhere in Alberta, the Government Rite line is 310-0000. You may also obtain a blank Application and Affidavit online at www.albertacourts.ab.ca under Court of Queen’s Bench, Publications and Forms.
After hearing an application for child support, the Judge will make a provisional or suggested Order for child support to be paid. Similarly, if the Judge finds you are entitled to spousal support, they will make a provisional or suggested Order for spousal support. As your spouse or former partner does not live in Alberta, this Order cannot be enforced until it is confirmed where your spouse or former partner lives. The Order, the transcript of the hearing, and all documents will be sent to the nearest Courthouse to your spouse or former partner’s home and a hearing date will be set. You must provide an address where your spouse or former partner can be found. At this hearing, your spouse or former partner will be given an opportunity to listen to the evidence given by you, and an opportunity to present their own evidence. Sometimes additional information is required from you and the application is sent back to you.
Once the Court in the other location has all the information it requires to make a Support Order, the Judge will make a decision. If a Confirmation Order is granted, that Order will be enforceable where your spouse or former partner lives. The Support Order may be less or more than originally stated. You will be sent a copy of this Order generally; the Director of Maintenance Enforcement in Alberta may enforce a Court Order wherever your spouse or former partner may move to. Alberta has ‘reciprocal’ maintenance enforcement agreements with other provinces and territories in Canada, the United States, and other countries. This means, the Director of Maintenance Enforcement will send your Support Order to whatever province or country your spouse or former partner has moved to and that province or country will carry out the enforcement of the Support Order there.
[AB1]If possible, try to reach an agreement with your spouse or former partner. If you are able to reach an agreement regarding child and/or spousal support, you need to have a lawyer draft the agreement.