Frequently Asked Questions on Family and Criminal Law

Family Law FAQs

Do I need a divorce lawyer?

Not all separations are contentious, and for those that are the Courts are constantly evolving in an attempt to better serve the self-represented litigant.

However, it can be difficult to pursue an appropriate resolution given the multiple Acts (the Divorce Act, the Family Law Act, the Matrimonial Property Act, the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the Protection Against Family Violence Act, the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, etc), the Alberta Rules of Court, the various Practice Notes and the decades of case law that form the basis for how family disputes are to be decided.  A divorce lawyer has the education and experience to assist you through this sometimes difficult process and to better ensure your interests are protected.

How long do I need to wait to get a divorce?

A divorce action can be initiated immediately upon separation. However, unless it can be proven that there has been abuse or adultery, the divorce cannot be completed until the parties have been separated for at least one year.

How long do I need to wait to apply for custody, child support or spousal support?

An application for a custody order, child support order or spousal support order may be made as soon as the parties have separated.

How long will the process take?

A matter may be completed in a very short period of time or may take multiple years to resolve. Every file is different, but generally the more conflict that is involved between the parties, and the more court involvement that is required, the longer the matter will take to reach a resolution.

What do I do if I’ve been served with Court papers?

At the outset, the most important thing to do is make sure that you understand what you have received and what is being requested or demanded. Depending upon the document served, varying responses may be available or required.  Typically the documents will also include a strict timeline for your response.  If you have been served, please feel free to contact our office immediately so that we can ensure that any deadlines are not missed and that your interests are not jeopardized due to not responding in time.

Do we need to go to Court to settle our divorce?

The vast majority of files are resolved outside of the courtroom, either through negotiated agreement or alternative dispute resolution. The court process can be lengthy, stressful and expensive.  Even matters that initially seem difficult and contentious can be resolved without having to go to trial.  Our family lawyers will work with you to determine the best way to reach a resolution in your matter, which will take into account your unique needs and circumstances.

What is an “uncontested divorce”?

An uncontested divorce, sometimes called a “consent divorce” or a “desk divorce”, is a divorce where the parties have reached an agreement that the issues surrounding the divorce have been resolved, and the matter can be presented to a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench to be finalized.

There are several documents that must be provided to the Court (Statement of Claim, Affidavit of Service, Affidavit of Applicant, etc.) before the matter can be presented to the Justice.  The materials are filed at the Court of Queen’s Bench, where they are vetted by a court clerk before being present to a Justice in his or her private chambers.  No court appearance is required, but the time between when the documents are filed with the court and when they are presented to the Justice can be several weeks or months, depending upon where the divorce application is made.

Once the Justice has signed the Divorce Judgment a Certificate of Divorce may be obtained after 31 days, to allow for the appeal period to run out.  The divorce lawyers at Capital City Law can do the work required to provide you with your divorce in an efficient and economical manner.  Please call us today to put us to work for you.

Criminal Law FAQs

What do I do if I’ve been arrested?

You are entitled to speak with a lawyer immediately upon your arrest. Upon advising the police that you wish to speak with a lawyer, the police officer has no right to ask you any further questions until you have an opportunity to speak with a lawyer in private. Call the criminal defence lawyers at Capital City Law immediately so that we can begin to assist you in protecting your rights.

Do I need a lawyer?

The criminal law system in Canada is made up of a very complex mix of statutes, common law and precedent. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out the rights of accused persons, but defending those rights at or before trial can be a tremendously complicated process. If an accused attempts to defend their own criminal case, that person may be jeopardizing his or her job, family and liberty.  Don’t take chances with your future – put the lawyers at Capital City Law to work for you.

What do I do if I can’t afford a lawyer?

An application can be made for a lawyer to be appointed by Legal Aid Alberta.  Applications can be made in person (in Edmonton at the Revillon Building, Suite 600
10320 102 Avenue, or at your local courthouse) or via telephone at 1-866-845-3425.  The lawyers at Capital City Law are registered with Legal Aid Alberta, and an accused is able to request the lawyer of their choosing.  If your court appearance comes before Legal Aid Alberta has appointed a lawyer to act on your behalf, you must attend that court appearance, but you can ask for the matter to be out to a new date so that a lawyer can be appointed.

Do I need to provide a statement to police?

You are under no obligation to provide a statement to police. Regardless of your guilt or innocence, a statement can never be used to help your case, no matter what the police try to tell you.  If police officers are asking you questions about your involvement in a crime, they are not doing this to help you. They are trying to obtain evidence to charge and then convict you. Everything you say to police officers will be recorded and used to try to prove that you committed the crime they think you committed. Every person has the right to remain silent and it is a right that everyone – guilty or innocent – should exercise. If you are asked to provide a statement to police, be firm but respectful and advise the officer that you will not answer any questions until you have spoken with your lawyer.

Do I need to appear in court?

Until you have retained counsel, you must be present at every court appearance, or risk a warrant being issued for your arrest.  Once you retained one of the lawyers at Capital City Law, we are generally able to appear on your behalf for most court preliminary appear­ances. You will be required to appear at a hear­ing or a trial, but you will be provided with ample notice of any such appearance so that you can make the appro­pri­ate arrange­ments regarding your work, school or child care.

Should I plead guilty?

An accused person should generally only plead guilty if the following three considerations are true:

(1) the accused person is guilty of the offence with which he or she is charged,

(2) the Crown Prosecutor is able to prove at trial all the elements of the offence for which the accused person is charged, and

(3) the accused person is receiving some consideration for entering a guilty plea.


Meet the Capital City Law legal team

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Angus Boyd, Edmonton Criminal Lawyer

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Conor Davis, Edmonton Criminal Lawyer

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photo of Edmonton Family Lawyer Jordan Bienert of Capital City Law

Jordan Bienert, Edmonton Family Lawyer

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Jordan Bienert

Edmonton Family Lawyer

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Edmonton Criminal Lawyer

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