I’ve Been Served with Divorce Papers…Now What?

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Being served with a Statement of Claim for Divorce can be a daunting experience, whether you were expecting it or not. A Statement of Claim is a court form that begins a court action. Statement of Claims can be actions in the civil court (for example a claim for damages after an accident) or in family court (a claim for divorce, or a claim under the Family Law Act).

The worst thing you can do when you are served with a Statement of Claim for Divorce is to ignore it. As with any claim, if you are the Defendant in the action, you will have a limited amount of time to do something about it. If you are served in Alberta, you will have 20 days to respond. If you are served outside of Alberta but still within Canada, you will have 1 month to respond. If you are served outside of Canada, you will have 2 months to respond.

The Statement of Claim will contain many important details, so you will need to go through it carefully and make notes of what you dispute, what you agree with and what you think is missing. Itu2019s always advisable to seek legal help early in the proceedings. We recommend reaching out to a lawyer before filing or being served.

If you havenu2019t had that opportunity, you will need to take quick action. As weu2019ve mentioned, you will have a limited window of time to respond in.

Your response will depend greatly on how you feel about what is being claimed. If you agree with everything in the Statement of Claim, you will let the divorce statement go through uncontested and will receive a copy of the Divorce Judgement in the mail. If you donu2019t wish to contest it but do wish to receive a copy before it goes up to the judge, you can file a Demand for Notice instead.

While you may wish to try and keep tension low, it is important that you seek legal advice before making the determination to continue without contesting the Statement of Claim for Divorce. Married couples have various rights at law including, but not limited to:

1) Division of property acquired during the marriage (u201cmatrimonial propertyu201d);

2) Support (spousal and child, where applicable);

3) Unjust enrichment.

It is important that you understand what rights you have so that you may make an informed decision about how to proceed against a divorce claim.

If you decide that you would like to respond to the Claim, you may do so by filing a Statement of Defence or a Counterclaim (if applicable). You will want to begin by gathering your information and presenting it in a manner that best highlights your position. Once your response is completed, you will file it with the court and serve it on the other party.

You will then need to work through the various issues in conflict. There are many means of dispute resolution. You may wish to go through counsel negotiated settlement, mediation, arbitration or through the court system. The route you choose will depend on your unique situation and how you wish to resolve the matter.

It is important to contact a lawyer to help you clarify what rights you have and determine what relief or arrangements are in your best interests. The Family Law group at Higgerty Law is dedicated to providing you with quality legal services and assisting you with your matter.
Contact us today to have us represent your interests, provide you with legal advice and work with you to resolve your family law matters.