Child Custody and Parenting – The Laws

The Laws

What laws apply to parenting?

The Divorce Act and the Family Law Act both deal with parenting. You need to decide which law applies to your situation. The Divorce Act is a federal law, and it only applies to people who are married to each other. The Family Law Act is an Alberta law, and it can be used if you are married or unmarried. These laws overlap in some areas, and they use different words to describe similar things. If you are going to make an application in court, then you need to know ahead of time which law you want to use.

You can read the copies of the law online by going to the Canadian Legal Information Institute



Which level of court do I use?

The applicant gets to decide which law to use. If the applicant decides to use the Divorce Act, then the application must be made in the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Court of Queen’s Bench is the higher court in Alberta. If the applicant chooses the Family Law Act, then the application can be heard in the Provincial Court or in the Court of Queen’s Bench. The applicant gets to decide. The respondent is the other parent, who must respond to the application. There are also some matters that can only be dealt with in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

If you are applying to change an order, then you need to apply to the same level of court.

Applicant is the person who is making the court application.
Court of Queen’s Bench is the superior court in Alberta.
Respondent is the other person involved in an application, who responds to the application.


For more information about making a court application, go to the Alberta Courts website


You should NOT rely on this webpage for legal advice. It provides general information on Alberta law only. March 2018.
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