Family Law Firm

Click any of the service areas below to learn more about what we do.

Separation / Divorce

At Matkovic Allan LLP we understand that divorce/separation can be a difficult experience.  A Divorce is the final legal step to end a marriage, but a separation usually requires that property, support and parenting matters be addressed. The Divorce Act outlines the process and requirements to finalize divorces and outlines some of the potential rights that married couples have.

Parenting / Custody Matters / Guardianship

Depending on the legislation that a family falls under, the terms ‘Custody’ and ‘Guardianship’ are used to define the legal relationship between a parent and their child.  Under the Divorce Act, the term ‘custody’ relates to how the parents will share the legal decision making on behalf of their children.  Under the Family Law Act, the term ‘guardianship’ relates to the decision making authority of each parent.  ‘Custody’ and ‘guardianship’ do not necessarily determine which parent the child shall live with, or how often a child will see the non-primary care parent.

At Matkovic Allan LLP, we will assist you in determining which custodial/guardianship arrangement best suits your family’s needs. Our lawyers will help to develop a ‘Parenting Plan/Schedule’ which will focus on the most important issue, which is the ‘best interests of the children’.

Common Law Separation

The rights of common law couples in Alberta can include property rights, partner support claims and the ability to inherit from each other; hence it is important that you obtain legal advice upon separation.  If there are children involved, your rights and responsibilities may also require some navigating.

High Conflict Custody Disputes

Most separating parents are able to work together in parenting, keeping the best interests of their children in mind.  However, for the few parents who simply cannot, special resources are available to assist them to try to appreciate that their conflict is highly detrimental to their children, and may have lasting effects that are very unhealthy to the development of their children.

At Matkovic Allan LLP, our focus is on one thing:  doing what we can to ensure happy and healthy children after their parents separate.  We utilize the mental health resources that we have available to us to guide our clients towards achieving insight into how their behaviour, or the behaviour of their partner, can be better managed for the sake of the children.

Child / Spousal Support

Child Support

Parents who have separated, are required to make arrangements for the maintenance of their children under either the Child Support Guidelines.  Deciding who should pay child support, and the amount that should be paid, can be a complex process depending on factors such as parenting arrangements, income levels, and compensation schemes of the parties.

Generally, the non-primary parent pays a set amount of child support prescribed by the Child Support Guideline Tables for the basic needs of the children, based on his/her income. Certain expenses may be shared by the parents in proportion of their respective incomes, provided that they can be qualified as extraordinary.  Some of those extraordinary expenses can include: child care, extracurricular activities, medical expenses and/or premiums, school expenses and post-secondary expenses.  Child support is adjusted yearly and parents have an on-going obligation to provide financial information to the other.

Our lawyers will help each family determine their child support obligations and rights based on their unique circumstances.

Spousal Support

A spousal support claim can made under the Divorce Act if the parties were married.  Unmarried parties who meet the requirements set out in the Adult Interdependent Partnership Act can also make a partner support claim under the Family Law Act.  Both statutes set out the criteria that must be considered for a spousal/partner support claim to be successful.  By no means is spousal support a guaranteed right, and the outcome will depend on  each family’s particular circumstances.  Spousal support is meant to address the consequences of the roles and financial decisions that parties made during their relationship.  The statutes outline several factors that are to be considered when deciding if someone is entitled to spousal support, how much they should receive and for how long.

Our lawyers can help you understand the process for pursuing or defending a spousal support claim.

Property Division

Upon the breakdown of a relationship, couples are left to divide their assets and liabilities.  Under Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act, married couples enjoy a presumption of equal distribution of net assets.  However, the Act also provides for a number of possible scenarios where property, or portions of certain property, may not be divisible.   The Act also has  specific requirements to make an agreement in relation to matrimonial property binding; one of these requirements is that the parties obtain independent legal advice.

There are no statutory property rights for unmarried couples in Alberta; as a result unmarried couples are required to undergo the difficult process of having to establish how their assets should be divided based on monetary and non-monetary contributions made by each party.  This is a complex area of the law and we would strongly encourage unmarried couples to seek legal advice to protect their rights upon breakdown of the relationship.

Adoptions

An Order for adoption may be made by the Court in Alberta in relation to a child placed by the Director of Child Welfare, a child placed directly in the care of another person or persons, a child placed by a licensed adoption agency or in relation to a step parent seeking to adopt the child of their partner. If the child to be adopted is an Indian and a member of a band, an individual designated by the council of the band must be involved.

Meghan Hanson and Colleen Christie are experienced in this area and would be happy to discuss any details with respect to the adoption process with you.

Surrogacy

Surrogacy in its simplest form means a person who gives birth to a child through the use of assisted reproduction (a method of conceiving a child other than by sexual intercourse) and intends to give that child to the biological donors, or to the biological donor and biological donor’s partner/spouse.

With respect to parentage of the child born as a result of assisted reproduction and surrogacy, please consult a lawyer for legal advice.

Meghan Hanson and Colleen Christie are experienced in this area and would be happy to discuss any details with respect to surrogacy with you.

Domestic Agreements

Pre-Nuptial Agreements / Marriage Agreements / Cohabitation Agreements

Whether parties are going to start living together, have plans to marry or are already married they may choose to enter into a legally binding agreement to determine how they will handle their finances during their cohabitation and how they will divide their property should their relationship end.   This may be especially important if one or both of the parties have acquired assets or debts prior to entering into their current relationship.

These types of Agreements allow parties to avoid unnecessary disputes if there is a breakdown in their relationship and may provide both parties with a sense of security in knowing that they have made decisions regarding their property before anger and emotion lead them to take unreasonable positions which may result in protracted legal proceedings and additional legal fees.

In Alberta, if the parties have a valid Pre-Nuptial Agreement, Marriage Agreement or Cohabitation Agreement that was entered into without any fraud, lack of full disclosure or duress, a couple may choose to forego their right to have a court determine how their property would be divided.

The lawyers at Matkovic Allan LLP will able to provide you with advice and guidance regarding the preparation of an Agreement that will protect you and provide you with the security of knowing that your property will be protected in the future.

Separation Agreements

If your relationship has ended and you do not already have a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, Marriage Agreement or Cohabitation Agreement, the parties may still enter into a legally binding Separation Agreement to set out how they wish to deal with issues of parenting, support and the division of their property.    By entering into such an Agreement, the parties do not put themselves in a situation where their future and their children’s future will be determined by a third party decision maker such as a judge or arbitrator.

Often, the terms of a Separation Agreement may be determined through negotiation between the parties themselves, negotiations between their lawyers or through the mediation process.    To ensure that the parties are entering into a fair and comprehensive Agreement, it is important that the parties have fully disclosed information regarding their incomes, assets and liabilities.    It is also important that the terms of the Agreement have been negotiated in good faith without any misleading or fraudulent information and that neither of the parties is under a great deal of duress which could potentially invalidate an Agreement.

The lawyers at Matkovic Allan LLP will work with you to ensure that you enter into a fair and comprehensive Separation Agreement that will protect your rights and provide you with a manner in which to resolve any future disputes that may arise regarding issues of support or parenting.

Mediation Services

Information coming soon.

Evolving Families

At Matkovic Allan LLP, we strive to provide practical solutions to the LGBTQ+ community in a respectful and inclusive environment.

We provide resources in a positive space for individuals dealing with the full range of legal questions that may arise during a relationship, such as cohabitation/prenuptial agreements, surrogacy and adoption advice, and help with separations, and divorces.

Our lawyers are also experienced with the process under the Civil Marriage Act that allows non-resident same-sex partners, who were married in Canada, to obtain a divorce through our court system when their marriage is not recognized in their home jurisdiction.

Wills

We strive to provide the most comprehensive legal advice and direction with respect to all issues that affect your family at any given time. One area that is often overlooked in the family law context is that of a Will, Personal Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney.

In Alberta, at any stage of life, a Will is a prudent choice. If you pass away without one in place, the law in Alberta governs who will become the administrator of your estate, who will benefit from your estate and their share of same. How that administrator chooses to do things, may be vastly different than you would prefer.

Allowing us to assist you in setting your wishes during what will be a difficult time for your family will reduce stress and legal fees to those close to you after you pass.

Given that at any stage of life a Will can assist individuals in ensuring that their loved ones are taken care of in accordance with Alberta Law, we will take the time to craft the necessary documents to give effect to your wishes. If you are starting a family through adoption or surrogacy, ending a relationship or blending two families together, we can help.

Please contact Colleen Christie to assist you with Will preparation and Powers of Attorney and Personal Directives.

Seminars

Adoption and Surrogacy

Please stay tuned for more information or contact us at 403-265-2542 and speak with Meghan or Colleen.


Professional Groups

In addition to the other seminars that we offer, Matkovic Allan LLP has also conducted seminars for professional groups on a variety of other topics relating to family law disputes.  Matkovic Allan LLP is dedicated to the continuing education of our lawyers and also to providing education and information to other professionals who are involved in assisting our clients with the resolution of their family law matter. Please contact Matia for more information on these seminars.

Litigation

More information coming soon