Suite 903, 825 8th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
A divorce or separation is always made more difficult and painful
when there are children involved. The children must deal
with dramatic changes to their lives that are beyond their control. The
parents worry for their children, and are also left feeling that their
relationships with the children are threatened.
What to Expect: Common Topics in Child
Parents must remember that they have a duty to look out for what is in
the best interests of the children. Parents who want to talk about
their own parental rights will not be speaking the same language as our
judges, who have a legal duty to consider only what is in the best
interests of the children. Parents are encouraged by our Courts to
reach a consensus with each other as to what parenting arrangement
truly is in the best interests of the children. If this is not
possible, a parent must then show a judge that his or her vision
reflects what is in the best interests of the child or children. Often,
it can be expected that the Court will come up with a compromise
solution, somewhere in between the proposals of the parties.
As Divorce Lawyers, we know that first and foremost, it is better for
the parties to try to negotiate a resolution. In every situation where
the parties cannot agree in regards to the children, mediators will
also be involved. A mediator is an independent, impartial third party,
often with legal and/or other training in mediation and conflict
resolution. The mediator's role is to try to get the two sides to
understand each other and come up with a mutually agreeable solution.
Mediation is mandatory under Alberta Law.
At MacKenzie & Azim LLP, we have experience in negotiating
resolutions and working with mediators, and resolving problems outside
of the Court Room. This is always the primary goal in a case involving
Our lawyers also have participated in numerous trials and hearings
involving child custody, parenting, access and visitation issues. We
are prepared to take your case to trial, if this is the necessary step
to resolving your legal problem.
- Parenting After Separation Seminar- This is a mandatory
course that every parent with dependent children must take
before the Court will grant his or her application for divorce. In many
circumstances, a parent may also be required to take the course before
he or she will be permitted to bring a court application concerning the
children in the province's superior court, the Court of Queen's Bench.
The best approach is for parents to enroll in this course as soon as
they realize that their relationship is ending. The pamphlet concerning
same is available here: Parenting After Separation Brochure
- Dispute Resolution Project-Our Courts offer a free session
of mediation with an experienced family lawyer who is impartial-
called a "Dispute Resolution Officer" this mediator must never have
represented either party as a lawyer and cannot represent
either party after his or her role as mediator has ended. The
mediator's role (as described above) is to try to help the parties come
an agreement concerning the children. You may have counsel present.
- Parenting Evaluation Process-Occasionally the Court
(either on its own or at the request of one of the parties) may order
that an assessment of the family's situation be done by a psychologist
or some other professional to assist the Court
in devising the parenting arrangment that best meets the needs of the
children. We have the experience to assist you in mapping
your way through this process. Insights into this process from the
perspective of psychologists can be obtained from an article that
appeared in the December 2010 issue of American Psychologist
(The College of Alberta Psychologists is currently
updating its guidelines on child custody cases for Psychologists
leaving us providing information from outside the province of Alberta):
Professional Guidelines for
Psychologists: Child Custody Assessment
- Material Change in Circumstances-If you are unhappy with
an existing court order concerning parenting, you will likely need to
show the Court that there has been a "material change in circumstances"
since the last order. This is to prevent
parties from constantly going back to court "fishing" for the outcome
- Enforced Parenting Schedules-If you find yourself in the
unfortunate situation where a former partner is not following
a parenting schedule that has been ordered by the Court or agreed upon
between the parties, our experienced lawyers may be able
to assist you
with this problem.
- Mobility-If one of the parents wishes to move a child to a
different city or outside the province, and the other parent
does not agree, a "mobility trial" may be required, whereby a judge
must decide if the move is in the best interests of the children. We
have experience with such trials.
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