Enforcement of Family Law Orders When Parents Live in Different.

Author:Dargatz, Sarah

Generally, Alberta court orders are only enforceable in Alberta. And, generally, Alberta judges can only grant family law orders about people who reside in Alberta. However, families are mobile and many relocate from province to province or even from country to country. Therefore, Alberta has entered into agreements with the other Canadian provinces and territories, and with many other countries, to recognize, enforce, and change each other's family law orders. Agreements or orders that have effect across political boundaries are usually referred to as "interjurisdictional".

In Part 1, we will discuss the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act. In the following Part 2, the Extra-Provincial Enforcement of Custody Orders Act and the Hague Convention will be explored.

The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act ("ISOA") applies to situations where one party lives in Alberta, the other party lives in a "reciprocating jurisdiction" and a child support or partner/spousal support order is sought.

The "reciprocating jurisdictions" are provinces, states, or countries that have matching legislation and will follow the same process as in Alberta. These include all the provinces and territories of Canada, the United States of America, Australia, the United Kingdom, and several others. A list of these regions is set out in a schedule to the accompanying Regulations.

Let's use an example where a parent, who lives in Alberta, wants to bring an application for child support order against the other parent, who lives in Ontario. To bring an application for a new order or vary an existing support order, the parent who lives in Alberta would bring the application to court in Alberta using the required forms. (Depending on the rules of the reciprocating jurisdiction, an Alberta judge may make a provisional order, meaning the order is not actually effective until it is confirmed.) The application (and the provisional order, if one is granted) is then sent to the court in Ontario. The Ontario court will contact the other parent and let them know an application has been made. A judge in Ontario will review the application, take evidence from the other parent and will either grant a support order, grant an interim support order, confirm the provisional order granted in Alberta, refuse to grant or confirm the support order, or send it back to Alberta more evidence.

The same process applies, in reverse, for applications that are brought in a reciprocating jurisdiction...

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