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Family Justice Services Glossary

  • Action
    • A lawsuit or application that is made in the courts. For example, when you apply to the court for a change in child support, you are taking a legal action. You may take action to enforce your rights or to correct a wrong that is done to you.

  • Additional Expenses/ Add-On Expenses/ Section 7 Expenses
    • In addition to the base amount of support payable under child support guidelines, the court can order the payment of additional expenses. These expenses can be for education; medical, dental, visual or other health care; childcare or extracurricular activities.

  • Affidavit
    • A written statement of facts that a person swears or affirms is true before a commissioner for oaths. Affidavits may be used to prove the identity of the person signing a document (Affidavit of Execution) or to prove that you have delivered documents to another person (Affidavit of Service).

  • Applicant
    • The person who is making an application to the court, for example under the Family Law Act.

  • Arrears
    • If a support payment is not made when due under the support order, that amount of unpaid support is referred to as arrears.

  • Assessment
    • The ongoing process of collecting information about a client's current situation to help them choose an appropriate course of action. Assessment could include screening for family violence, determining immediate needs, and/or referral to further Family Justice Services programs or other resources.

  • Caseflow Conference
    • A conference that has been scheduled between a Caseflow Coordinator, the parties, and their legal counsel if any. The purpose of the conference is to explore settlement options, facilitate settlement and facilitate access to the Court system.

  • Caseflow Coordinator
    • A Family Justice Services employee who facilitates the Caseflow Conference.

  • Chambers Application
    • A court session in Court of Queen's Bench where parties make applications to a Justice. Justices hear Chambers Applications in court rooms. In contrast to a trial where witnesses present evidence orally, parties usually present chambers evidence in writing, by affidavit. Chambers applications last 20 minutes or less.

  • Child Protection and Intervention Mediation
    • A voluntary, confidential and informal process for resolving disputes with respect to any decision made by a Director or designate under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act. Family members and Human Services caseworkers engage in a facilitated conversation led by a Family Mediator. This is a joint initiative of Alberta Human Services and Alberta Justice.

  • Child Support Calculation
    • FJS staff reviews income information received from parties and inputs into a computer program that generates a Child Support Calculation form for use by the Court.

  • Child Support Calculation Review Memo
    • A one page document attached to a Child Support Calculation, intended to point out anomalies in the calculation to the Court.

  • Child Support Checklist
    • A form that is used when a Desk Divorce Application where there are children involved, is sent to the Justice to point out any anomalies with respect to child support.

  • Child Support Guidelines
    • The federal Divorce Act and the Alberta Family Law Act set out guidelines for the amount of child support a payor is required to pay. The base amount payable depends on the payor's income and the number of children to be supported.

  • Child Support Recalculation Program (RP)
    • An Alberta Government program that helps parents keep their court-ordered child support amounts current. RP uses the parent's income tax returns to adjust eligible orders each year on the anniversary of the order being granted. RP charges a service fee.

  • Child Support Resolution Officer
    • A lawyer who meets with parents to assist them in resolving their child support issues prior to proceeding to the Court of Queen's Bench in the Judicial Centre of Edmonton.

  • Child Support Resolution Session
    • A meeting set up through a formalized court process where parties meet with a Child Support Resolution Officer who assists them in negotiating the issue of child support prior to proceeding to the Court of Queen's Bench in the Judicial Centre of Edmonton.

  • Confirmation Hearing
    • A hearing held in a reciprocal jurisdiction to confirm a Provisional Support Order granted in the jurisdiction where the applicant resides. Evidence is heard from the respondent, and the court decides whether the Provisional Support Order should be confirmed or varied, or whether the court requires further evidence from the applicant.

  • Consent Order
    • A Court Order that shows both parties are in agreement with everything in the Order.

  • Consent to Mediate
    • A document that outlines the criteria for accessing Family Justice Services mediation, confidentiality information, the role of the mediator and the responsibilities of all parties involved in the mediation. Signing the document is an acknowledgement that the parties understand and commit to the terms of the C to Mediate.

  • Contact Notes
    • A document prepared by Family Justice Services (FJS) staff and kept on an FJS Client file to record staff contact with a family member or other relevant person, and file related activity.

  • Court Generated Order (CGO)
    • Court orders in the Court of Queen's Bench that are prepared by Court or Family Justice Services staff where litigants are self-represented.

  • Custody
    • In family law cases, this describes the arrangement made for the care of children when parents separate. This term is not used in the provincial Family Law Act but is used in the federal Divorce Act. Different types of child custody arrangements include:

      Joint Custody
      Parents jointly make major decisions about the children's care, education, religion and welfare. The children may live primarily with one parent and the other parent may spend regular time with the children.

      Shared Custody
      According to the Child Support Guidelines, shared custody is where the children live at least 40% of the time with each parent.

      Sole Custody
      The children live primarily with one parent, and that parent has the right and responsibility to make major decisions about the children's care, education, religious instruction and welfare. The other parent usually has access to the children.

      Split Custody
      When parents have more than one child and each parent has one or more of the children living primarily in their household.

  • Defendant
    • The person responding to a court action, for example a divorce or matrimonial property action.

  • Desk Order
    • An Order granted by a Judge or Justice without the parties appearing before them in Court.

  • Dispute Resolution Officer
    • A lawyer who meets with parties to assist them in resolving their child support issues prior to proceeding to court in the Judicial Centre of Calgary.

  • Dispute Resolution Officer Session
    • A meeting set through a formalized court process where parents meet with a Dispute Resolution Officer who assists them in negotiating the issue of child support prior to proceeding to the Court of Queen's Bench in the Judicial Centre of Calgary.

  • Dispute Resolution Process
    • A process to resolve legal matters ranging from a collaborative process that involves parties agreeing on the process and the results, to an adversarial process where decisions are imposed.

  • Divorce-Review
    • Desk Divorces are reviewed by Family Justice Services or Court staff before being submitted to a Justice for signature.

  • Docket Court
    • A court session in which parties present their case or provide the judge a status report about their court application. The court may direct parties to exchange documents, explore a dispute resolution process, adjourn the matter or make an order. Multiple court applications are heard in a single docket session.

  • Docket List
    • A list of cases to be called by the court at any given court session.

  • Education Services
    • Information offered to individuals in a lecture or skill based format. Focus is on issues surrounding parenting apart, and communication. Current programs include:
      - Parenting After Separation (PAS)
      - Parenting After Separation High Conflict (PASHC)
      - Focus on Communication in Separation (FOCIS)

  • Emergency Protection Order (EPO)
    • A Provincial Court order, granted under the Protection Against Family Violence Act that provides an immediate period of safety.

      In emergent situations, the claimant, a person authorized by the Minister of Human Services, or authorized under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, or authorized by a police service can apply for an order without notice to the respondent.

      If an EPO is granted the police then are required to serve the respondent. This order is reviewed by the Court of Queen's Bench within 9 business days. See Queen's Bench Protection Order.

  • Ex Parte
    • A court application made by one party without notice to (i.e. in the absence of) another party.

  • Family Court Counsellor
    • A professional staff within Family Justice Services who provides service, assistance and on-going assessment to all parties which may include information, referrals, court preparation, facilitating interim or longer term agreements and court presentation. The Family Court Counsellor is not an advocate for either party and does not provide legal advice or opinions.

  • Family Justice Services
    • Family Justice Services (FJS) is a group of programs and services offered by Alberta Justice in collaboration with the courts of Alberta. FJS works directly with individuals to find appropriate solutions for family law disputes.

  • Family Mediation
    • A voluntary, confidential and informal process that addresses the concerns and needs of all parties involved in a family law dispute. Parties engage in a facilitated conversation led by a Family Mediator. Resolution is by mutual agreement of the parties.

  • Family Mediator
    • A qualified professional in the area of conflict management. Family Mediators support the parties in reaching a decision and do not take sides, make decisions or suggest solutions. The parties come to their own solutions and nothing is imposed by the Family Mediator.

  • Family Violence
    • Family violence is the abuse of power within relationships of family, trust or dependency. Family violence may include some or all of the following behaviours: physical abuse, psychological abuse, criminal harassment/ stalking, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and spiritual abuse.

      For Emergency Protection Orders and Queen's Bench Protection Orders, the Protection Against Family Violence Act defines family violence as including:

      (i) any intentional or reckless act or omission that causes injury or property damage and that intimidates or harms a family member

      (ii) any act or threatened act that intimidates a family member by creating a reasonable fear of property damage or injury to a family member

      (iii) forced confinement

      (iv) sexual abuse, and

      (v) stalking

  • File (action of filing)
    • The act of giving your Court documents to the Clerk who reviews and stamps them with the filing date and places the original documents on the court file.

  • FJS Client File
    • A file prepared by Family Justice Services (FJS) staff for use by FJS only. An FJS Client File includes client information collected for FJS programs. It does not include spreadsheets of client names or names collected for statistical purposes.

  • Focus on Communication in Separation (FOCIS)
    • An interactive communication course for parents who are parenting apart that aims to enhance the communication skills of parents, reduce parental conflict and improve long term outcomes for children.

  • Hearing
    • A court session where a Judge decides questions of fact and law in a dispute between opposing parties.

  • Information Services
    • Provision of information to individuals about court processes, programs and services. Information is available by phone, website, in person and through the distribution of forms and pamphlets.

  • Intake Services (within FJS)
    • A consultation in person, by phone or other electronic means, facilitating an assessment of client needs and assisting the client to determine appropriate options, to make informed choices relating to their family law issues and to focus on the best interests of children.

  • Interjurisdictional Parenting/ Contact Evaluation
    • A report prepared by Family Justice Services, at the request of a Court outside of Alberta, where at least one family member lives in Alberta. The information is to assist the Judge in the other location in making a judgment about parenting or contact.

  • Judicial Dispute Resolution
    • A voluntary dispute resolution process in Court of Queen's Bench and Provincial Court where a Judge facilitates resolution of all or part of a claim by mutual agreement of the parties.

  • Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP)
    • The Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Program (MEP) is authorized by the Alberta Maintenance Enforcement Act and Regulation to ensure that individuals meet their obligations to pay spousal and child support under the terms of their court orders and certain agreements. Once an order or agreement has been registered with MEP, maintenance payments that the debtor (payor) would normally pay directly to the creditor (recipient) are sent to MEP. MEP then forwards the payment to the creditor once the funds have cleared through a trust account.

      In cases of default (non-payment) by the debtor, MEP has the legislative authority to take steps to enforce the support owed. These enforcement tools include registrations at Land Titles and the Personal Property Registry, wage, non-wage and federal support deduction notices, federal licence (passport) denials, motor vehicle restrictions and driver's licence suspensions. MEP also has access to a variety of databases to assist in locating a debtor or a debtor's assets or income.

  • Mediated Agreement
    • A written summary, prepared by the mediator, of their understanding of the decisions reached by the parties in mediation. The mediated agreement is not considered to be a legally binding document.

  • Mediation
    • A voluntary, confidential and informal process that addresses the concerns and needs of all parties involved in a dispute. Parties engage in a facilitated conversation led by a Mediator. Resolution is by mutual agreement of the parties.

  • Mediator
    • A qualified professional in the area of conflict management. Mediators support the parties in reaching a decision and do not take sides, make decisions or suggest solutions. The parties come to their own solutions and nothing is imposed by the Mediator.

  • Notice to Disclose
    • A document that asks a person to provide financial information to the requesting party.

  • Parenting After Separation (PAS)
    • A seminar offering information to parents about the separation and divorce process, the effects of separation and divorce on children, techniques for communication and legal information that affects parents and children.

  • Parenting After Separation High Conflict (PASHC)
    • A seminar offering information to parents who have already completed Parenting After Separation. The focus is on the process of separation, how to emotionally disengage from one another and how to identify and renegotiate boundaries.

  • Parenting Time
    • Under the Family Law Act, parenting time is time when a guardian has the power to make day-to-day decisions about a child, and has day-to-day care and control of the child. This time is set out in a parenting order or agreement. The concept of parenting time is used in the Family Law Act in place of "custody" and "access".

  • Party
    • Someone who is directly involved in the court action or application. A party can be either a plaintiff or defendant, or an applicant or respondent.

  • Peace Bond
    • An Order under Section 810 of the Criminal Code that requires a respondent to have no contact with persons named in the order and to stay away from specific locations.

      Individuals usually apply for peace bonds in non-emergency situations, and the respondent receives notice of the application. The legal document and process is the same for both family and non-family.

  • Person Standing in the Place of a Parent
    • A legal term for someone who is not a biological parent of a child but who acts like a parent to the child. The court may treat the person the same as a biological parent for custody and parenting time/access rights. The court may also decide that the person has a financial responsibility to support the child. (In the past, the term 'In Loco Parentis' was used.)

  • Plaintiff
    • The person who starts a court action for divorce.

  • Pretrial Conference
    • An informal meeting where the parties and a Provincial Court Judge discuss options for resolution and the parties' overall preparedness for trial.

  • Provisional Support Order
    • A support order of a court in one jurisdiction, obtained by one party (who lives in that jurisdiction) in the absence of the other party (who lives in a different jurisdiction). A provisional order has no effect (cannot be enforced) until confirmed in a province or reciprocal jurisdiction where the other party resides. Most commonly encountered under Section 18 of the Divorce Act and Sections 7 & 27 of the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act.

  • Queen's Bench Protection Order
    • A Queen's Bench order granted under the Protection Against Family Violence Act that provides for a defined period of safety. A claimant applies for this order in non-emergency situations, or it can be made upon the mandatory review of an Emergency Protection Order. The respondent to the application receives notice of the court hearing.

  • Reciprocating Jurisdiction
    • A province, state or country that has an agreement with Alberta to enforce an Alberta court order when the payor lives in that province, state or country and the payee lives in Alberta.

  • Recognizance
    • A document, order, or form which imposes obligations on an accused in a criminal matter to comply with certain conditions following his/her release from custody pending trial, with a financial penalty or return to custody if those conditions are not followed.

  • Respondent
    • A person responding to an application to court, for example under the Family Law Act.

  • Restraining Order
    • A Court of Queen's Bench Order that prohibits the respondent from harassing, molesting, watching, following, telephoning, or otherwise interfering with or contacting the Applicant.

      Part 12 of the Alberta Rules of Court governs applications for family law restraining orders (between two parties who have lived together in a relationship of interdependence).

      The Alberta Rules of Court Civil (non-family) govern applications for restraining orders in other interpersonal matters between individuals, e.g. dating relationships.

  • Return Notice
    • A form used to return a Desk Divorce Package to lawyers or parties when there are errors.

  • Screening
    • The process of identifying specific factors in a client's situation to assist with referrals or assessment.

  • Special Chambers Application
    • A contested Chambers Application that is anticipated to last more than 20 minutes and less than an hour. This application has specific filing requirements. It is governed by Queen's Bench Practice Note 2.

  • Special Chambers Application with viva voce evidence
    • A Special Chambers Application where parties present some evidence orally, rather than by affidavit.

  • Stay of Enforcement
    • An Order of the Court of Queen's Bench directing the Maintenance Enforcement Program to stop taking certain steps to collect any support that is still owed by a person. A Stay of Enforcement may only be ordered for a limited time period, and is usually ordered with conditions imposed upon the person who is required to pay the support. For example, one condition may be that minimum monthly payments must be made or the Stay of Enforcement will end.

  • Support Order
    • An Order made by a court directing that money be paid, usually on a monthly basis, for either spousal/partner support or child support. The word "maintenance" can be used instead of "support". In the past, the term "alimony" was used to refer to spousal support.

  • Trial
    • A court session where a judge or jury decides questions of fact and law in a dispute between opposing parties. Evidence of witnesses is generally given orally rather than by affidavit.

  • Undertaking
    • A document signed by an accused in a criminal matter showing agreement to comply with certain conditions while they are released from custody pending trial or their next court appearance.

      A promise given by a party or witness in a civil matter to answer a specific question or provide a document or other information at a later date.