Sometimes parties cannot agree to how property, support or parenting will look after separation. When there are no other ways to decide these major decisions, the parties must ask the proper level of court to decide.
For most family matters, you can file an application to either the Provincial Court or the Court of Queen’s Bench. Generally, the Provincial Court is less formal.
However, there are certain family law matters where only the Court of Queen’s Bench can make an order. These matters are:
- Exclusive possession of the family home or household goods
- Declaration of Parentage (for all purposes of the law including surrogacy)
- Declaration of Irreconcilability
- Matrimonial property applications
- Financial support orders that deal with property or trusts.
Therefore, you should talk to our office about whether you need an order that only the Court of Queen’s Bench can make, and to which court you should bring your application under the Family Law Act. Sometimes it is better to apply for all orders in one court. It is possible, however, to apply to Provincial Court for one order (eg. child support) and apply for another type of order (eg. property division) in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
The Dispute Resolution Office
The Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO) Project is a project operating in Calgary, only. The project encourages those wanting to apply for child support or to vary child support to meet with a senior family law lawyer before going to court. The lawyers who are acting as DRO’s hope to help parties reach agreement on issues without having to appear in front of a judge.
An appointment with the DRO is mandatory for all child support applications and variation applications in Calgary Court of Queen’s Bench, regardless of whether or not parties are represented by counsel.
Different Applications –Queen’s Bench
Morning Chambers – This is for matters which can be heard in 20 minutes or less in Court. Most matters will start in Morning Chambers and will be adjourned to a longer application if it cannot be heard by Justice in the appropriate amount of time.
Domestic Special—this is a matter which is either a one hour, two hour, or occasionally one day hearing. It is for matters which are too long or too complex to be heard in morning chambers; however, all evidence will typically still be entered via your Affidavit.
Trial—trials are booked by the trial coordinator for matters which are more complex or where
there are very different versions of the facts. A client will be required to take the stand and have his or her counsel question them and have the other counsel cross-examine.
Different Applications—Provincial Court
Docket court—this is held every day in Provincial court. Similar to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Trials—Unlike Court of Queen’s Bench, most matters not determined in docket court will immediately be referred to a trial.
Judicial Dispute Resolution
Judicial Dispute Resolution (JDRs) are held at the Courthouse for all three levels of Court . A justice hears the merits of one or two matters to be tried and provides the parties with a determination as to what they would do if they were hearing the matter or their recommendations. Parties can also agree in Queens Bench to have a JDR be binding and have the presiding Justice decide on the issue. Please note that parties must have counsel to appear in JDRs.
Appeal of Decision
Should the parties not agree with the results of the of the Court, he or she may choose to appeal the decision. We suggest you contact a lawyer to ensure that you have a matter which can be appealed.
Should you attend Court?
If a court date has been set, then you or your lawyer should appear in court on that day. If you are unable to attend court on the date set you should contact the Court Clerks. Otherwise, if you do not appear, the court could set a new date and not inform you of that date, or the court might proceed and make a decision (and a Court Order) without you providing any information. In addition, if you are the applicant, the matter could be dismissed.
Our lawyers are experienced in all three levels of court and have experience in managing files in morning chambers, domestic specials, and trials.