Interim and Final Parenting Orders in Alberta

Parenting orders specify parenting arrangements approved by the court. They cover decision-making responsibility, parenting time and other child-related matters.

You can ask the court to modify an order — even a final order — if there's a significant change of circumstances.

Note: If any of the below links to court documents don't work for you, try a different browser.

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Interim parenting orders

Interim orders provide temporary arrangements. They last only until you get a final order — but parents can keep their interim order instead of getting a final one. Sometimes, judges include a date for the court to review the interim order.

If informing the other parent that you've applied for an interim order could put you or your child in danger, you can apply for an interim order without notice. However, the court only allows this in rare situations. When there is concern that a parent may cause harm to the child or the other parent, you can get an emergency protection order.

The process for getting an interim order depends on your court.

Court of King's Bench

In the Courts of King's Bench in Calgary and Edmonton, you'll go to Family Docket Court first. You can request to skip Family Docket Court if you need an interim order right away.

On your Notice to Attend Docket Court (Word download), state that you want an interim parenting order. If you and your co-parent agree on what you want in an interim order, you can apply for a consent order, which can be granted at Family Docket Court. Otherwise, the court will direct you to try an alternative dispute resolution method or send you to family chambers (a court appearance where the justice will decide interim parenting arrangements).

If you don't have to go to Family Docket Court — or if you decide you want an interim order after you've already started a case — fill out a Family Application and an Affidavit (PDF download). Swear your Affidavit before a commissioner for oaths or a notary.

After filing both forms, you'll get a date for family chambers. If you need longer than 20 minutes with the justice, the court will send you to special chambers, where your appearance could last up to a full day.

Alberta Court of Justice

If you're in the Alberta Court of Justice, complete a Claim — Family Law Act and the forms that apply to you below:

Swear your statements before a commissioner for oaths or a notary.

After filing your forms, you'll get a date for Docket Court (which is different from the Family Docket Court in the Court of King's Bench). It's rare to get an interim order at Docket Court (unless both parents agree on the order). Instead, at Docket Court, the court will likely schedule a hearing, where a judge will decide the terms of your order if you cannot reach an agreement.

Final parenting orders

Final parenting orders set out long-term parenting arrangements decided by a judge.

If you're divorcing, your parenting order will likely form part of your divorce judgment. Your child support order may also be included in the judgment.

To get a final parenting order, use the forms listed for your court above. You'll mark that you want a final order instead of (or in addition to) an interim order.

The process for divorcing parents to get an order (in the Court of King's Bench) is different than the process for nondivorcing parents (in the Alberta Court of Justice and Court of King's Bench).

Consent orders

If you reach an agreement on child support or parenting, you can ask the court to approve it so it becomes a consent order. A consent order is a final court order made up of terms agreed upon by parents. You can vary (aka change) and enforce a consent order like any other order.

Write your agreement up as a parenting plan. You can keep it between you and the other parent, but getting a consent order allows the court to enforce the terms you've agreed on.

To get a consent order, fill out the forms for your court:

You'll have a short court appearance where the judge will review your agreement to make sure the terms are in the child's best interests and both parents agree. If the judge approves the agreement, the court will send you a copy of the signed order in the mail.

Varying parenting orders

You can ask the court to change your order if there's a significant change in your circumstances, such as:

  • A relocation (a move that will impact the parent-child relationship)
  • A shift in what you need from a parenting time schedule
  • Death or incapacitation of a parent

You can make some minor changes together without going back to court — for example, moving an exchange time a little later. If one parent insists on going back to the terms of the court order, you must.

Enforcing parenting orders

If a parent isn't allowing you to see your child as set out in the court order, you can ask the court to enforce parenting time. To enforce other parts of your court order, talk to a lawyer.

Following court orders correctly

When a court issues orders, you must follow them. If you don't, you can be brought back to court, fined and more.

But orders are complicated, especially for parenting time. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Which day marks the middle of summer break?

Use Custody X Change to plug your order into a calendar you can edit, share and print so you'll never have to wonder whether you're following the order correctly.

With the Custody X Change online app, you can combine schedules for the school year, summer break and holidays into one calendar.

You can even track how well court orders are being followed with our parenting time tracker and parenting journal.

Custody X Change has all the tools you need to set your new parenting arrangement up for success.

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