The breakdown of a relationship can lead to many legal issues. It is important for your client to think about and address family-related legal issues in a timely manner.
Information to collect from your client:
- What led to the breakdown of the relationship? Does your client feel unsafe? Is there a history of abuse? Were the police involved?
- How long was your client with their spouse or partner? Was your client married or in an adult interdependent relationship?
- Does your client have children? How old are they? Who do they live with? Does your client need help with childcare?
- Where was your client living with their spouse or partner? Did they own or rent a home? Where are your client’s belongings?
- Is your client able to support themselves and any children? Is your client working?
Potential legal issues:
- Parenting agreement-- A child should spend as much time with both parents as is in their best interests. The parents can agree on a parenting schedule, or the court can decide on a parenting order.
- Financial support -- A parent may be eligible to receive child support or spousal/partner support from their ex depending on their incomes and who the children live with.
- Protection orders -- A person who experiences violence can ask the court to order the abuser to stay away from them and their children.
- Criminal charges -- The police may charge a person who committed violence. People who experienced violence can get help with housing, keeping the abuser away, and more. People who committed violence should get legal advice about the charges.
- Immigration consequences -- If a person’s immigration status is tied to a partner, there are supports available to allow a person to leave an abusive partner or spouse.
- Joint property and debts -- When a relationship ends, a person should deal with all joint property and debts, such as bank accounts, rent, mortgage agreements, and credit cards. A person continues to be responsible for these obligations as long as their name is linked to the property or debt.
- Free legal information from CPLEA about Alberta’s family laws
- Free legal information from CPLEA about abuse and the law in Alberta
- Free legal information from CPLEA for non-Canadian citizens leaving an abusive relationship
- Family court assistance – Government of Alberta service for people without a lawyer
- Free legal clinics in Alberta
- Legal Aid Alberta – for help with family law, domestic violence (including getting an Emergency Protection Order), child welfare, immigration, and youth and adult criminal defence
- Alberta Legal Coaches & Limited Services – list of lawyers who offer coaching and limited services
- Law Society of Alberta Lawyer Referral Service – to get the names of three lawyers who practice in the issue area and who will offer a free 30-minute consultation
- 211 Alberta – call, text, or chat online to connect with local supports