Obscure Latin terms and what they may mean in Alberta family law




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It can be intimidating for anyone to plow through texts sprinkled with terms and phrases in a foreign language, whether on a restaurant menu or in a legal document. Botany, medicine and the law all feature Latin–a language once considered universal, now known as a dead language. For an Alberta client considering divorce, a family law lawyer conversant with such archaic but crucial terminology can dispel bewilderment.

Examples abound, such as ex parte and voir dire. In family law cases involving children, the concept of a legal advocate may be easier to grasp than amicus curiae or guardian ad litem. Each of these have different purposes — time-saving information that could only be clarified by a family law lawyer.

Additionally, each province and territory regards the responsibility for assigning a child’s legal representative differently. The province of Alberta is one of a handful that considers it an inherent right of the court as opposed to a legislated right. In divorce proceedings where a child’s interests are at issue, Alberta and Ontario have longstanding and robust options in place

The need for an amicus curiae (friend of the court), or for a litigation guardian (guardian ad litem), is not well-known outside of the court system. Even less so is the distinction between a child’s best interests and a child’s interests — a fine point that predominates in divorce cases requiring child advocacy. An Alberta family law practitioner with knowledge and experience to guide and assist in such matters would be invaluable, and save precious hours searching for that dog-eared Latin textbook.

Source: The Canadian Bar Association, “Legal Representation of Children”, Accessed on Jan. 20, 2018


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