In family law, situations can, unfortunately, arise where family members fear for their safety or are concerned about the potential actions of another family member. If you are concerned about your safety or that of your children because of the actions or threats of your partner, you can request a restraining order.

What are Restraining Orders?

Restraining orders are directives made by a family court that restrict what someone can do. Restraining orders are made to protect individuals including spouses and children. These orders are also sometimes known as “no contact orders.”

The order will list conditions that the individual whom the order is made against must comply with.  The terms of each restraining order will vary depending on the particular circumstances of the individual requesting it

The conditions can be extremely specific or general. Some examples of conditions include:

  • Your partner cannot go to your home (and an address must be included);
  • Your partner cannot go to your place of work;
  • Your partner cannot go to your children’s school;
  • Your partner cannot go to a location (e.g. your parents’ home or your local gym) where you often go to;
  • Your partner cannot communicate with you via certain mediums (such as text or phone calls); or
  • Your partner cannot come within a certain distance of you, your children, your home, your workplace, or other specific locations.

If you believe your restraining order is not adequately protecting you, or there have been changes in your circumstances, you can request that the order be modified.

Who Can Get Restraining Orders?

Not everyone can apply for restraining orders. One of the following must be true in order for you to qualify for a restraining order:

  • You were married to your partner;
  • You have lived with your partner for any period of time; or
  • You have a child with your partner.

In situations where a restraining order may not be an option (such as where individuals other than spouses or parents of a shared child might be fearful of the actions of one of their family members, it is possible to get a peace bond. A peace bond is a court order obligating the individual subject to the bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

Anyone can apply for a peace bond, it is not restricted to partners or spouses. A peace bond can be made in family court and criminal court, while restraining orders are made in family court.

How Do You Obtain a Restraining Order?

To get a restraining order, you will have to fill out some paperwork, including an application form and a Canadian Police Information Centre Restraining Order Information form. This paperwork will include information about your partner to help the police identify them.

While you can do this on your own, it is wise to seek the advice of a family lawyer who has significant experience in this area because there may be some conditions you should include in your order that you may not be aware of. Once the necessary paperwork is filed, a judge will have to sign off on it, and may even include more conditions.

If you need an order urgently, you can go to the nearest family court and get help from duty counsel, any other assistance program, or from a Family Court Support Worker. If you do have a lawyer, you can get them to request the order.

If you believe you are in immediate danger and cannot wait to obtain even an urgent restraining order, always call the police or go to a police station.

What Happens Once You Get A Restraining  Order?

Once you get a restraining order, it is important to keep a certified copy of it with you at all times. The police will need to see it in the event that your partner disobeys the order and will not be able to act until they confirm the conditions have been breached. You may also want to give a copy to other members of your family, such as your children (if the order pertains to them) for the same reasons and so that they are aware of what is going on.

A restraining order can be temporary, and the judge who issued the order may put an end date on it, or it may end when you and the other person return to court. The judge may continue the order even there is another court appearance, end it, or make it final. If the restraining order is final, it will end only if the judge has included a termination date.

Even though a restraining order is a family court order, breaching the conditions is a criminal offence. If an individual has breached a restraining order made against them, they can be arrested by the police and charged for the breach. They will require a bail hearing and may be released on further conditions.

The safety of you and your family is important to the courts. If you feel like your family is in danger, do not hesitate to get started on the process of obtaining a restraining order. An experienced family lawyer can help expedite the process because they know what to do. The compassionate and knowledgeable lawyers at Borden Family Law can help you keep your family safe. Contact us at 905-576-6090 or contact us online for a consultation.