Legal Definitions

ACCESS
the time you spend with the parent who does not have custody of you. A parent who has access has the right to receive information about your health, education and welfare unless a judge has said he or she is not allowed to have this information

AFFIDAVIT
a special written statement which is used in legal matters. The affidavit is signed by the person who wrote it who has to say (swear or affirm) that it is the truth

AGREEMENT (SOMETIMES ALSO CALLED CONTRACT)
an agreement, verbal or written, between your parents. In a family law situation the agreement might include such things as where you will live, how much time you will spend with each parent and the rights and duties of your parents to you and to each other

ALBERTA CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
legal rules made by the government of Alberta that say how much child support a parent has to pay

BIOLOGICAL PARENT(S)
a parent to whom you are related to by blood (genetically), not an adoptive or step parent

BLENDED FAMILY
the family that is created when your parent and you start to live with your parent’s new partner and his or her children

COMMON-LAW (RELATIONSHIP)
when two people live together without getting married

CONTACT
a new word that means time people other than your parent can spend with you if a judge says that they are allowed to

CONTACT ORDER
an order by a judge that allows a person other than your parent to spend time with you

CONTRACT
an agreement between you and at least one other person. There are three things necessary in every contract.

  • You need an agreement where one person offers something in return for something else, and the other person accepts that deal. It is a legal trade.
  • Both parties must promise something, often money, services, or items. If only one side promises, then it is just their promise. Trading something is needed for a contract.
  • Each party must be allowed by the law to make the contract. Being allowed to contract means you are over 18 years old (with some exceptions) and are not mentally ill.

If you have these three parts then a court can force the agreement to happen or punish the person who broke the agreement, usually by making them pay money.

COURT APPLICATION
when your parents cannot agree on an issue and ask a judge to decide

COURT ORDER
a decision by a judge that is written down that says what each person can or cannot do or what they must or must not do

CHILD SUPPORT
money that one parent gives the other parent to help pay for the things that their children need such as food, shelter, clothing, transportation and some activities

CUSTODY
responsibility for the care and upbringing of children in the family (the word custody will probably be used less and less)

  • JOINT CUSTODY
    both parents make the big decisions about you, like where you will live, health, medical, religious issues and extracurricular activities, it does not mean living half-time with one parent and half-time with the other parent (see also shared parenting)
  • SOLE CUSTODY
    you live with one parent and that parent makes the decisions about what will happen in your life without the other parents being involved. Unless a court orders otherwise, you would still be able to see your other parent

 DIVORCE

a judge has signed a paper ending your parent’s marriage

DAY-TO-DAY- CARE AND CONTROL
you probably live most of the time with one parent who has the authority to make decisions about you on a day-to-day basis but probably both of your parents are supposed to make the big decisions about you

FAMILY LAW
the area of law that deals with things like separation, divorce, child custody, parenting, child support, adoption

FEDERAL CHILD SUPPORT GUIDELINES
legal rules made by the government of Canada that say how much child support a parent has to pay

JOINT CUSTODY
both parents make the big decisions about you, like where you will live, health, medical, religious, issues and extracurricular activities. It does not mean living half-time with one parent and half-time with the other parent (see also shared parenting)

JUDGMENT
a decision made by a judge that is often written down and signed by the judge

MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM (MEP)
an Alberta government program that helps parents collect child support

MEDIATION
a process for resolving conflict between people with the help of an independent or third person who is called a mediator. A mediator is a specially trained person who tries to help people reach agreements

NOTICE
means that a person must inform another when the first person makes a change that has a legal effect on the person who is to be informed. In a landlord and tenant situation, notice must usually be in writing to be considered ‘legal’. For example, a landlord must inform you in writing if he or she wants to increase your rent. You must similarly inform the landlord in writing if you wish to end a periodic lease.

ORDER
a decision by a judge that is written down that says what each person can or cannot do or what they must or must not do

PARENTING AGREEMENTS
arrangements your parents have worked out, usually in writing, about how they are going to continue to take care of you and make decisions when they no longer live together

PARENTING ORDER
a legal document issued by a judge that gives each parent certain powers and responsibilities over their children. A parenting order may set out a schedule of parenting time (the time you spend with each of your parents)

PARENTING TIME
the time you are with one parent and that parent has the authority to make day-to-day decisions

PRIMARY RESIDENCE
you live most of the time with one parent

PROPER NOTICE
(landlord and tenant matters) when you are a tenant, ‘proper notice’ means the landlord must let you know in advance if he or she is going to come into your rental property. The landlord cannot simply tell you. Notice must be in writing, be signed, and tell you why and when the landlord will come in. Notice must be delivered to you at least 24 hours before the landlord enters and s/he can only come in between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., but not on a holiday, or a day when you are at religious services.

SEPARATION
a decision to live apart without getting divorced

SEPARATION AGREEMENT
arrangements your parents have worked out when they decide not to live together anymore, usually in writing, that sets out what happens with their children and with the things they owned when they were together

SHARED PARENTING
when you live with each of your parents, at different times, probably more or less equally, and they each have authority to make decisions about what will happen

STEP-PARENT
your parent’s new partner or spouse and a new “parent” for you

SOLE CUSTODY

you live with one parent and that parent makes the decisions about what will happen in your life without the other parent being involved. You would still be able to see your other parent

SUPERVISED ACCESS/SUPERVISED VISITATION
when another adult is with you all of the time you are visiting the parent with whom you do not live to make sure you are safe

VISITATION
the time you spend with the parent you don’t live with, also called access