Alberta has three major court levels, however the vast majority of individuals will end up dealing with either the Provincial Court of Alberta of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Proceeding in either court can have major impact upon a litigant.The Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta has exclusive jurisdiction over divorce proceedings and division of matrimonial property division. Parties may initially make an application at the Provincial Court of Alberta for relief regarding parenting, or child support, prior to realizing that they cannot deal with finalizing their divorce or dealing with property division.
Individuals can file relief addressing guardianship, parenting, child support and adult inter-dependant partner support applications at the Provincial Court of Alberta. The Provincial Court of Alberta also has jurisdiction over child welfare cases.
The Provincial Court of Alberta provides the advantage of non-binding Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDR) being regularly available. JDR’s are required prior to a party being able to set a matter down for a trial hearing.
Due to ongoing demand obtaining a court date in Provincial Court often involves longer wait times than obtaining an appearance in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta.
Parties’ should be aware that the powers of each court and the relief that a party can obtain depends on the legislation applicable to the level of court, specially, the Divorce Act (Canada), for the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and the Family Law Act (Alberta) for the Provincial Court and Court of Queen’s bench of Alberta.
It is essential that clients understand the ins and outs of which court to file pleadings in and the ramifications of filing in each court including: wait times to obtain a court date and relief that would typically be heard in a morning chambers or afternoon chambers session in each court.