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New King’s Bench Requirements

New King’s Bench Requirements

On December 4, 2023 the Court of King’s Bench announced mandatory ‘Pre-Court’ requirements that will be implemented as of December 18, 2023. These requirements must be completed before a party can file any document intended to bring the matter before the Court for relief, including a Notice to Attend Family Docket Court. 

The requirements are as follows: 

  1. The Parenting After Separation Course (“PAS”) must be completed and the certificate filed by the Applicant prior to bringing any application where there are children under the age of 18 years affected by the proceeding. The Respondent, meaning the person being served with the application, must also complete the PAS court within 14 days of being served or prior to filing a cross-application. PAS is a free, online class that has helpful information for parents who are separating. Information and online sign up can be found here.
  1. Self represented parties who have children under the age of 18 who wish to bring a matter before the court must first meet with a Family Court Counsellor (“FCC”) who will provide information and options on how to proceed. Part of this meeting may involve the FCC providing referrals to other resources that may assist them in resolving their matter or information on what financial disclosure they will need to provide in this process. 
  1. Any party filing an application for support or division of property must complete their Financial Disclosure. Applicants must bring their completed disclosure to the meeting with the FCC and Respondents may be prohibited from proceeding with any cross-application or new application until they have completed their own disclosure. 
  1. Before bringing an application, the Applicant must attend an Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) process unless waived or deferred by the court and they must file a ‘Participation in ADR Form’ when filing a Notice to Attend Docket Court or Application. The parties are required to exchange financial disclosure prior to attending ADR and this requirement may not be met if the parties fail to do that. 

There are certain exceptions to these requirements including applications for protection orders, applications that have been approved to proceed on an urgent basis, Statement of Claim for Divorce and other divorce documents and others. 

Further, parties can file an application for permission to waive or defer any of the mandatory requirements with the form provided by the Court of King’s Bench. 

The full text of the Court’s announcement can be found here.

Some of these requirements have existed in our court system for some time but were not generally considered mandatory prior to application. 

The PAS course was previously required for parties with children under the age of 16 and needed to be filed at the same time as divorce documents, a step that typically comes near the end of a party’s time in the court system. Now, the requirement includes parties with children up to 18 and is a step required before you can access the court system at all. It makes sense that this valuable parenting information is shared prior to undertaking a potentially adversarial process. 

Parties have long been required to exchange financial disclosure and Judges have long faced frustrations in enforcing that requirement. The court has stated that non-disclosure of assets is the cancer of matrimonial property litigation (Cunha v Cunha [1994] BCWLD 2804 and quoted in Leskun v Leskun 2006 SCC 25) and have tried several different approaches to simplify the process of requesting disclosure from an opposing party and to impress the importance of this process. Our firm has written blog posts about the importance of disclosure in the past including here and here. We have now reached the point where providing disclosure will be a requirement to even accessing the legal system with the intention, this writer is sure, of avoiding the delays and issues that a lack of disclosure can cause. 

Attendance at an ADR process was always strongly encouraged by the Judicial system. In the past, it had been mandatory for parties who wanted to bring an application for child support to attend with a Dispute Resolution Officer. Alberta Justice offers mediation to qualifying parties and courts were keen to encourage parties to take advantage of that. The blanket requirement to attend ADR is new and the new process requires a “Participation in ADR” form be completed to ensure compliance. This requirement is of specific interest to us here at Moe Hannah as we are strong believers that ADR can benefit most parties. We have written about how an ADR process can be tailored to match the needs of specific clients and tips about what to expect and how to prepare for mediation here ( for example.  We know that the ADR requirement may feel onerous to some. But we are looking forward to helping families resolve their issues in a way that centers their interests. Stay tuned for a blog post about Early Neutral Evaluation, a process that we believe can help. 

If you would like more information about how to navigate the new requirements, please don’t hesitate to contact us.