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The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide general information on a wide variety of legal issues in the Province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation.
There are several different types of Orders that you can apply for to protect yourself from someone who has or may cause you harm. It depends upon your situation which type of protection order you should obtain. This topic will discuss Emergency Protections Orders, Queen’s Bench Protection Orders, Restraining Orders, Exclusive Possession Orders and Peace Bonds.
Emergency Protection Orders
Under the Protection Against Family Violence Act, intimidation or harm done by a family member against another family member is considered family violence. If your partner threatens or harms you and/or the children, or does not allow anyone to leave the home, you can obtain a Protection Order against that person. Family violence also includes sexual abuse of one family member against another family member. You need to prove to the court that your partner has made threats, been physically violent with you and/or your children or damaged your property. You need to show there is imminent danger of further harm or violence and that you are afraid for the safety or yourself and/or your children.
You can apply for a Protection Order against a family member. This includes a person to whom you are married or living in an intimate relationship with. It also includes the other parent of your child, even if you were never married or lived together. It can also include other family members in your household, such as your sister or brother.
In emergency or crisis situations, an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) can be obtained by the police or a family member for you to stay in your home and to have your abusive partner removed. The Order will set out specific boundaries so that you can feel safe from your abusive partner. For example, the Order will tell your partner that they are not allowed near your home and may also prevent your partner from coming near your place of employment or the children’s school or daycare. It will also say that your partner cannot come within a certain distance of you (and perhaps also your children) no matter where you may be in the province of Alberta.
The police will serve your partner with a copy of the EPO.
If you obtained an Emergency Protection Order from the Court, that Order must be reviewed by the Court of Queen’s Bench within 9 working days. The date and time of the review is written on the Order. At the review, the Order can be revoked and cancelled or it can be replaced with a Queen’s Bench Protection Order. It is important for you to go to Court for the review, whether or not you want the EPO to be continued.
Queen’s Bench Protection Order
As discussed already, a Queen’s Bench Protection Order is often made upon the review of an Emergency Protection Order.
You can also apply directly for a Queen’s Bench Protection Order. This application must be done after serving your partner with copies of the application documents. You would usually only do this kind of application if your situation was not an emergency. You can apply for a Queen’s Bench Protection Order against a family member who has committed family violence against you.
The Queen’s Bench Protection Order can be made to suit your needs and your family situation. The Court can make any term it feels is necessary to ensure you and your family member’s safety. For example, the other party can be ordered:
- To stay away from your home, your place of business, or the children’s school.
- To not contact you or your family members in any way
- To give you exclusive occupation of your home for a specified time period whether you own or rent your home.
- To pay you for costs you incurred as a direct result of the family violence.
- To give you temporary possession of certain property including a vehicle, keys or bank card.
- To protect your property
- To call the police to remove that person if necessary
- To receive counseling
- To have weapons seized and removed.
The Queen’s Bench Judge decides how long the Protection Order will continue – up to one year. It can be extended for a longer time period, if you apply to the Court near the time that it will expire. This Protection Order will also not affect any rights to title or ownership held by the parties involved, either jointly or alone.
You can apply for a Restraining Order against any person who has, by their actions or words, made you afraid for your safety. An application for a Restraining Order can be made an ex parte basis that is without notice to the abusive person if you are in a crisis situation, or the application can be made on notice to the abusive person if it is not an emergency. The application is heard by a Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench.
If the Order was made ex parte, a date for a review of the Restraining Order will be set. On the review date, the other will be given an opportunity to attend Court and give reasons why the Order should not be continued.
Keep in mind that not all Courts in Alberta will grant Restraining Orders. Speak to a lawyer or the Court staff to find out if a Restraining Order is available in your area.
Exclusive Possession Orders
The Alberta Matrimonial Property Act and the Family Law Act also contain provisions for restraining your spouse from coming into your jointly owned or rented home, or using property that the two of you bought when you lived together (e.g. a vehicle). This is called an Exclusive Possession Order. The application is made in the Court of Queen’s Bench.
Keep in mind that an Exclusive Possession Order is a temporary Order, intended to set out who can use the home or the property until the two of you reach an agreement on how your property will be divided. It does not give you ownership of the home or the property.
There are restrictions on who can apply for an Exclusive Possession Order. Exclusive Possession Orders under the Matrimonial Property Act are only available to people who have been married to each other. Exclusive Possession Orders under the Family Law Act are only available if the application is combined with an application for child or spousal support. If you want an Exclusive Possession Order, you should consult a lawyer.
The Criminal Code of Canada also has provisions to protect you if you are afraid for your safety. This applies to any two people who have any kind of interaction that leaves one person afraid that the other will harm them.
Normally, though, Peace Bonds are used as a way to resolve criminal charges. For example, if a person has been charged with assault, the Crown may be willing to drop the assault charge in return for the accused person entering into a Peace Bond which requires the accused to have no contact with the victim, and to keep the peace for a specific period of time.
You should always make sure you have a copy of your Court Order with you and leave copies of the Court Order with your children’s school and day-care. If the other party attempts to approach you, you may have to call the police and the Order will make it easier for them to make the arrest. If a person violates the conditions of a Court Order, they may be found in contempt of Court and warned, fined or imprisoned. A violation of a Peace Bond is a Criminal Code offence.
If you decide to leave and have nowhere to go, there are emergency shelters for women in several Alberta towns and cities. They provide a place for both you and your children and help you to use community resources available to you. Contact your nearest Social Services and Community Health office for the telephone number of the shelter nearest you. You may prefer to stay with friends or family or go to the YWCA if there is one is your area.
You may call Calgary Legal Guidance Restraining Order Program at 403-716-6478 or Edmonton Protection and Restraining Order Project at 780-422-9222 for assistance. If you live outside these areas, contact your local police, RCMP detachment or victim’s services unit for information on other services in your community. You may also contact Lawyer Referral Service or if you have a limited income The Legal Aid Society of Alberta may help.