If you have ever found yourself in the Alberta Provincial Court in a family law dispute, you have probably realized that the court is under a lot of pressure to ‘get it right’ without the benefit of adequate time to hear every matter. Family judges in the Alberta Provincial Court are often forced to weigh in on complex family conflicts regarding child custody, guardianship, parenting, and child support, in docket court or first appearances without having even reviewed the file, or hearing a review of the nuances of the law on that particular issue.
Judges and justices are human and so in these difficult circumstances they can get such decisions wrong, especially when they are forced to make a decision on an ex parte matter where one party appears without notice to the other party, or where there are self-represented parties that may not be able to make all the relevant facts clear or discuss the law in a knowledgeable way. This can and does leave parents with decisions that are unjust, that severely prejudice them, that set a precedent and establish a status quo that may leave them fighting an impossible fight when they finally get to a trial.
Fortunately, there is recourse for challenging unjust court orders or judge’s decisions if you act decisively, quickly, and with proper legal counsel. Any decision of the Alberta Provincial Court in a family law matter can be appealed to the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Court of Queen’s Bench will then review the decision if there is a “manifest error” made by the Alberta Provincial Court; J(JG) v. R(M) 2003 ABQB 787.
More specifically, the Court of Queen’s Bench may intervene in a provincial court order where the Provincial Court judge made an error in law or made a significant error in the interpretation of the facts; Letourneau v Letourneau, 2014 ABCA 156. In other words, if you are a party in a family law conflict in the Provincial Court and the court does not apply the law correctly or gets a fact wrong, you may appeal to the Court of Queen’s Bench.
It is extremely important that if you believe you have received an order from the Provincial Court that is unjust or unfair that you seek legal advice immediately. You have a very short amount of time to act. According to the applicable legislation and rules, you must file and serve the other party with a notice of appeal within 30 days and order the transcripts from the hearing that resulted in the unfair decision. If you act quickly, and have an order that is clearly wrong on the facts, there is no reason to wait until a trial or a material change in circumstances that would let the court consider the matter again.
Contact the family law lawyers at Hart Legal and we will help you through the appeal process to ensure that all the relevant facts and law are properly considered throughout the process to maximize the likelihood that you will receive a fair hearing and a fair outcome for yourself and your loved ones.
Hart Legal has family law lawyers and estate lawyers in Calgary, Alberta, that can help you through the appeal process. We also offer our family law and estate law services throughout British Columbia. You can text us at 587-410-7443 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, to schedule your free family law consultation with one of our best Calgary family law lawyers.