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My relative recently died. Do we have to use a funeral home to deal with the remains and have a final ceremony?

You do not have to use a funeral home to arrange cremation, burial, or a ceremony to remember your loved one.

However, when dealing with a death there are many steps that must be taken to follow the law. Funeral home staff can guide you through these steps. It is up to you to decide if you want that extra help or not. The following steps are required.

  • You will need a Medical Certificate of Death. You can ask for it from the doctor who signed it.
  • You will also need to register the death.
  • You will then to take these forms to a Vital Statistics Office so that a burial permit can be issued.
  • If you want to cremate your loved one, other forms will be needed.
  • If you want to bury your loved one, you will need to make arrangements with a registered cemetery.

Also, you will need to arrange for the transportation of your loved one’s body. If the deceased is to be transported in a private vehicle within Alberta, there are no regulations as to the type of vehicle that must be used and no permits are needed. However, if your loved one had a communicable disease, Alberta’s Bodies of Deceased Persons Regulation does have requirements for handling the body.

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Last Reviewed: May 2016
Is neglect considered abuse?

Yes, neglect can be considered abuse. Neglect happens when someone who has an obligation to care for you fails to do something, which puts your health, safety, or well-being at risk.

Physical neglect happens when someone who should be caring for you does not provide you with your physical needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. For example, parents might be physically neglecting a child if they do not feed them. Or, a caregiver is physically neglecting an elder who needs medication if they refuse to get the required medication or bring the elder to the doctor.

Emotional neglect happens when someone who should be caring for you does not give you the emotional support you need. For example, parents are emotionally neglecting a child if they never spend time with them or do not show the child any love or affection. This can put the child’s psychological health and well-being in danger.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
What is an “International Will”?

In 1973, Canada signed an international agreement called the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will (the “Convention on International Wills”). On December 1, 1978, it became part of Alberta law. Under this agreement, Albertans can create “International Wills.”

An International Will is recognized in various parts of the world if:

  • it meets certain standards;
  • it has been “certified” as an International Will; and
  • it is registered with the proper authority.

Once a Will is registered as an International Will, it will be recognized in all other jurisdictions that have both:

  • signed the Convention on International Wills; and
  • included that agreement in their own laws (this is also called “bringing it into force”).

In most Canadian jurisdictions, the Convention on International Wills is in force. However, not all countries (or jurisdictions) recognize International Wills.

Last Reviewed: June 2016
What can I do if I can't find the other party to serve them the paperwork?

You may be able to apply to Court for an order to serve the documents in another way. This is called “substitutional service.”

 

However, before applying for an order for substitutional service, you must put a lot of effort into finding the person and serving them. For example, the types of steps you will be expected to take include:

  • Contacting family and friends, either directly or through social media
  • Contacting the other party’s current or former employer
  • Using the phone directory or online searches

To help with this, you could hire a process server. Their business is to find and serve people.

Some examples of substitutional service include:

  • Leaving the documents with a family member or someone they are living with
  • Sending documents by mail, email, or through social media
  • Leaving the documents with another adult at their place of work
  • Giving the documents to a friend of theirs

Whichever method you propose, you will need to be able to explain to the Court how that method is likely to bring the documents to the attention of the other party.
 

If you cannot locate the other party and you are not aware of any method that is likely to get the documents to their attention, you can ask the Court for an order allowing you post an advertisement in a local newspaper in their last known place of residence.
 

Finally, if all else fails, you can ask the Court to “dispense” with service. This means you can proceed with your court action without serving the other party.

 

To do this, you will need to:

  • show the Court all of the efforts you have made to find and serve the other party; and

  • explain why substitutional service will not work.

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Last Reviewed: March 2017
When I get my divorce, can I also change my child’s last name?

A change of the child’s last name can be requested as part of the divorce, but is generally not granted unless both you and the other parent agree.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Do I need a lawyer to take part in mediation?

To take part in mediation, you do not always have to have a lawyer. However, depending on what is in your agreement, you may need a lawyer. For example, if you want to turn any agreement that deals with matrimonial property into a court order, you will have to include a certificate that shows that you have each received legal advice.

In addition, you may want to hire a lawyer as a consultant to give advice during the mediation, and/or to review any agreement that you come to in order to make sure it is legally sound.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
I am a step-parent. Do I have to pay the same amount of child support for my former partner's child as a biological parent?

Maybe. If you were married to the child’s parent, or lived in a relationship of interdependence of some permanence with the child’s parent, and if you treated the child as if the child was your own (this is also called “standing in the place of a parent”), you may have to pay child support.

However, biological or adoptive parents may have greater obligations to pay child support. Therefore, you may pay less child support than would normally be required by the Child Support Guidelines.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
When do parenting or custody agreements/orders end?

Parenting, custody, or contact orders end once the child turns 18. After a person turns 18, that person has the legal right to make up their own mind about where they want to live and who they want to spend time with.

Child support, on the other hand, does not necessarily end when the child turns 18. When exactly it will end depends on the law used to set up the child support in the first place: Alberta’s Family Law Act or the federal Divorce Act. It also depends on the specific facts of your situation, such as whether the child is still in school.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Can non-parents (such as grandparents or step-parents) apply for guardianship or parenting time?

Yes. Guardianship and “parenting” time can be awarded to parents, people standing in the place of parents (such as step-parents), or sometimes to other people who have a relationship with the child, such as grandparents and other relatives.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Can my guardianship of a child be terminated against my will?

It is possible, but it is not very common. 

For the Court to give an order that terminates guardianship, the Court must be satisfied that either:

  • the guardian whose guardianship is to be terminated agrees to (“consents”) to the termination; or
  • the Court considers it necessary to terminate the guardianship. To determine this, the Court will apply the “best interests of the child” (BIC) test. When deciding to end guardianship, the BIC test will include looking at whether the guardian is “fit” to be a guardian, as it is not in the best interests of the child to have a guardian who is not up to the job.

In general, if the guardian does not consent, guardianship is only terminated in cases where it is very clear that it is not in the best interests of the child to have this person continue to be a guardian. 

In addition, if the child in question is over 12 years of age, the child must consent to the termination of the guardianship (unless the Court decides that there is a good reason to not require the child’s consent).

Last Reviewed: October 2015
I am thinking of buying a pet I saw listed on Kijiji. How can I be sure this purchase is safe?

You can never be 100% sure that such a purchase is safe. There are no specific consumer laws governing the sale of pets in Alberta. As a result, you may want to keep in mind general guidelines for making good purchases. These include:

  • Do your research. Is this the right pet for you? Of those pets, is there a breed that would be better for you?
  • Choose a reliable source. Many organizations suggest you find an animal breeder with a good reputation instead of buying from a pet store or an unknown Internet dealer. You can ask the seller for references. Speaking to references can help you determine the quality of a seller.
  • Ask about a return policy. Will the seller or breeder take the animal back if it does not fit in with your family? Or will they help you find a new home for the animal?
  • Ask for a written contract and a health guarantee. If you have any problems after the purchase, it can be easier to settle disputes when the terms of the purchase have been clearly laid out in writing.

Another option is to adopt a pet from a local animal shelter or humane society. This can be a good choice because usually the animals up for adoption from these places are:

  • known to be healthy;
  • already spayed or neutered; and
  • current with all of their shots.

However, it is still a good idea to ask about these things, and even to get the animal checked by a veterinarian before taking it home.

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Last Reviewed: August 2016
Am I required to report suspected child abuse?

Yes. Under Alberta law, anyone who has “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that a child is being abused, or is at risk of being abused, must report it to Alberta Child and Family Services. This is part of Alberta’s Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Child abuse can include:

  • neglect;
  • emotional abuse;
  • physical abuse; or
  • sexual abuse.

Children rely on adults to keep them safe. Also, if you do not report suspected abuse, you could be fined up to $2,000.

If you think a child is being abused, call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1‑800‑387‑5437 (KIDS) to speak with a caseworker.

Last Reviewed: January 2017
What is marital rape? Is it illegal?

“Marital rape” is when one spouse forces the other spouse to have sex against her or his will. Marital rape, just like all other kinds of sexual assault, is illegal in Canada. Just because you are married or living in a committed relationship does not mean that your partner can force you to have sex if you do not want to. If you do not consent, it is sexual assault even if you are married.

Last Reviewed: June 2017
What is an Affidavit and what can go in it?

An Affidavit is a written statement that is sworn, or affirmed, to be true, and used as evidence in legal proceedings. Usually, you include what you want to say in numbered paragraphs.

Information that you include in an Affidavit must be limited to facts that you personally know. In other words, you can only include what you saw, heard, did, or said. The information should not be an opinion. Also, the facts must be relevant to the issues between the parties.   

You can attach copies of evidence (for example: letters, bank statements, or pictures) to Affidavits as “exhibits.”

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Last Reviewed: July 2017
Does it cost anything to apply for a protective order?

No. If you are applying for a protective order, it is free. The only time you might have to pay a fee is if you are combining your application for a protective order with some other family court application (such as an application for custody or child support).

Last Reviewed: October 2015

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