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In my Power of Attorney, I must name a family member as my Attorney.

False. You can choose anyone who meets the legal requirements—it does not have to be a family member.

Powers of Attorney are not about love or family obligations. They are about practicality and keeping yourself safe and well cared for. Your Attorney will have access to all of your financial information and will be making all of your financial decisions for you. He or she can use the position to control you, to treat you poorly, to steal your money, and to shut out other people that you might have wanted included. In general, it is best to choose someone you trust and someone that you know will have your best interests at heart.

Last Reviewed: April 2016
If I hire a lawyer, then I must go to court.

False.

This is a common misconception about working with lawyers. Hiring a lawyer does not mean you have to go to court. Having a lawyer simply means you have a legally trained person to represent your interests, in court or out of court. You can also negotiate though lawyers. Many family law cases are solved in this way. The parties resolve their issues before ever getting in front of a judge by suggesting different solutions through their lawyers. In fact, most lawyers will try to negotiate before they decide to take the case to court.

Also, many legal issues do not require going to court. In these cases, a lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and can communicate with the other party.

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
I cannot lift heavy packages at work because I am pregnant. My coworkers constantly complain about this and call me a slacker, but I guess I just have to put up with it.

Not necessarily.

Human rights laws in Canada protect against discrimination on the basis of gender and family status. As a result, your employer must ensure that you do not feel unwelcome in your workplace and are not harassed because you are pregnant.

You have a right to speak to your employer about your concerns, and your employer is required to take appropriate action. Sometimes it can be difficult for an employer to figure out how to make a difference in these situations. The Alberta Human Rights Commission has education programs and consultation services to help with workplace discrimination. Either you or your employer can ask the Alberta Human Rights Commission for this help.

If your employer still will not take any action, you can make a formal complaint to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Last Reviewed: February 2017
If I don’t qualify for legal aid, I have no other options for finding legal help.

False.

Many communities across Alberta have options for providing legal information and legal help. Some organizations serve the immigrant community, some offer support for people in situations of domestic violence, some give free legal advice, if you meet the qualifications.

If you are 19 years old or younger, you can get legal information and possibly free legal advice and representation from the Children’s Legal and Educational Resource Centre.

Last Reviewed: June 2016
Asking to mediate or taking part in any form of alternative dispute resolution is a sign of weakness.

False.

There is no single “right way” to solve a dispute; parties should do what works best for them and their situation. Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is just as valid a way to solve a problem as going to court. It is also important to understand that mediation (and other forms of ADR) actually take a great deal of strength: it requires in-depth discussions and complete honesty. In many ways, it would be much easier to simply hand over all of the decision-making power to a judge.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
You can’t get partner support unless you were married or had children together.

False. 

In Alberta, if you were in Adult Interdependent Relationship, you may be eligible for partner support under Alberta’s Family Law Act. You do not have to have been married, or have children together.

Under Alberta law, a person is in an Adult Interdependent Relationship if he or she has been living with and in a “relationship of interdependence” with another person:

  • for 3 years; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement; or
  • for less than 3 years if they have a child together (by birth or adoption).

A “relationship of interdependence” is a relationship where the partners:

  • share one another’s lives;
  • are emotionally committed to one another; and
  • function as an economic and domestic unit.
Last Reviewed: October 2015
If I get a protective order against my abusive partner, he won’t be able to see the kids.

Only if the protective order states that he cannot see the children. The issue of whether or not he can see the children will depend on the terms of your protective order and any other family law orders you may have in place.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
My grandfather wrote a Will in Newfoundland. It has been probated there. It cannot be used to deal with the house he owned here in Alberta.

False.

The grant of probate from Newfoundland may be eligible to be “resealed” in Alberta. “Resealing” is the process of having a local court confirm a court order from another jurisdiction.

Last Reviewed: June 2016
I am already helping my loved one by taking care of her child: I won’t ever need guardianship.

Not necessarily.

It may turn out that getting guardianship of her child is useful or necessary.

“Guardianship” describes the legal decision-making powers, rights, and responsibilities that adults have about a child. In other words, a “guardian” of a child is an adult who is legally responsible for taking care of the child.

Sometimes, relatives or friends help take care of a child. For example: they may take care of the child every day after school until the parent gets home.

Or, relatives or friends may have full care of a child. For example: a grandparent may take care of their grandchild for months or years because the parent is suffering from drug addiction and cannot take care of the child themselves.

In such cases, the caregivers often have to make day-to-day decisions for the child. Despite this fact, the caregivers are not the guardians of the child. They are not legally responsible for taking care of the child.

This is an important difference, as not being a guardian means that the caregiver has no right to continue taking care of the child. At any time, the child’s legal guardian can refuse to continue letting the caregiver care for the child. Depending on the situation, this can be harmful for both the child and the caregiver.

As a result, a person who has been the caregiver for a child may want to explore whether they should become a guardian of that child.

Last Reviewed: November 2016
The debt is only in the name of my former spouse. It does not have my name on it, so I am not responsible for it.

False.

Married people have many ways of setting up their financial lives. For example: some assets or debts may be in both spouses’ names. Or, an asset or debt may be in only one of the spouse’s names. There are many reasons for these differences, such as tax issues, differences in credit ratings, and sometimes just convenience.

When couples separate, some people believe that if an asset is in their name, that asset “belongs” to them. Similarly, a person may believe that a debt that is in his or her spouse’s name is that spouse’s problem. This is not necessarily the case. When property is divided, all assets and debts are looked at together, regardless of the “name” on it. 

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Last Reviewed: October 2015
If dogs are allowed in my apartment building, my landlord has no right to say that my dog is too big.

False.

Landlords are free to make detailed rules about pets, such as the size of animals that are allowed. The landlord must let you know about the rules and it is your responsibility to follow them.

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Last Reviewed: August 2016
My ex has a protective order against me, but if my ex asks me to come over, I can ignore the Order.

False.

Even if you think that the other party has agreed to breach the Order, do not breach the protective order. It does not matter if the other person agreed, or even contacted you first: you will be the one who suffers the consequences. There can be very serious consequences for breaching a protective order, including fines and jail time.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
My former partner and I were never married, but we lived together for years, so we’ll be treated the same under the law as if we were married.

False. 

Unless you go through a formal marriage ceremony, living together will never make you “married” (or even “the same as married”)—even if you live together for decades.

However:

  • If you live together in a marriage-like relationship for one year, or less than one year but have a child together, you qualify as “common-law” partners under federal law; and
  • If you live together in a marriage-like relationship for 3 years, or less than 3 years but have a child together, or you have signed an Adult Interdependent Partner Agreement, you qualify as Adult Interdependent Partners under Alberta law.

In many ways, being Adult Interdependent Partners (AIPs) is similar to being married. Most of the differences occur if the relationship breaks down. However, for property division, the law treats married and unmarried couples very differently. If you were married, you would be entitled to half of the matrimonial property. However, if you are not married, there is no rule that you get half of the family property. It doesn’t matter how long you and your partner have lived together. When it comes to property division for unmarried people, the general rule is that “what’s yours is yours and what’s mine is mine.” So if property is in your name, it is generally considered yours. And if it is in joint names, it is to be divided.

Last Reviewed: February 2016
I gave up my rights as a parent, so now I don’t have to pay child support.

False. 

A parent has to pay child support, regardless whether he or she is present in the child’s life. Child support is the right of the child. The parents cannot bargain that right away. Therefore, the parents cannot agree that one parent will not pay child support if he or she stays out of the child’s life.

Last Reviewed: October 2015
Palliative care is only available in hospitals.

False.

Palliative care can be offered anywhere: in continuing care centres, in hospitals, and even in your own home. There are also specialized “hospices” that provide only palliative care.

Last Reviewed: April 2016

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