Processing times and procedures fluctuate depending on the level of cooperation from the spouses, how and where the Defendant was served, what city the divorce application was filed in and grounds for Divorce. Average processing time is normally 4 to 6 months (if the Defendant is served personally in Alberta), 5 to 7 months (if the Defendant is served personally elsewhere) or 6 to 8 months (if the Defendant is served substitutionally or outside Canada).
To illustrate (parties have been separate over one year):
- Three to Four Weeks: File the Statement of Claim for Divorce, Serve Defendant in Alberta, wait 20 days, Plaintiff signs final papers, final papers filed.
- One to four months: Length of time it then takes most major centres in Alberta to grant a divorce once the final papers have been filed (processing times are usually slower during July to September and December to February as a result of staff holidays during the summer and at Christmas time). Divorces not involving children are typically faster than divorces involving children. Some of the Court Houses in small centers may be able to grant a divorce in less than one month. The Courts automatically mail a Divorce Judgment out to the Plaintiff and Defendant. In an emergency it is possible to have a Divorce granted at this stage in less than 2 weeks.
- Clearance Certificate: Part of the reason it can take so long is because a divorce cannot be granted until the courts get confirmation from the National Divorce Registry that there are no prior divorce applications which take precedence. You cannot get a divorce on the current application if you or your spouse filed for a divorce previously which was not finished or discontinued (meaning you have to finish the first application or have it discontinued to complete the 2nd application). A Clearance Certificate often takes upwards of 6 weeks to be issued. A divorce cannot be granted on the current application until a clearance certificate is issued.
- 31 days later: In Canada, divorces do not take effect until 31 days after being granted (unless the 31 days have been waived by both parties due to compelling reasons) and only for so long as the divorce has not been appealed within the 31 days, at which point we order and mail a Divorce Certificate to each of you. If you intend to remarry outside Canada, please advise and we will be sure to order for you (at no extra cost) an International Divorce Certificate (a regular Divorce Certificate notarized which is required for marriage outside Canada).