Family violence is taken very seriously in BC. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, financial, and psychological abuse, as well as stalking, harassing, and damage to your property. In this article, we will look at two types of protection orders and discuss who is eligible to ask a Judge for a protection order.
What is a protection order?
A “protection order” is sometimes called a restraining order or emergency protection order. In BC, there are two types of orders of protection:
(1) a family law protection order under BC’s Family Law Act; and,
(2) a peace bond under the Criminal Code.
Family member must have no direct or indirect contact with you. It is a criminal offence if the person named in the Protection Order breaches the terms of the Order.
What is a family law protection order?
An order of protection under section 183 of BC’s Family Law Act protects a person whose safety and security is at risk of violence carried out by a family member. A family law protection order is a civil order made by a judge in family court. The order will list the conditions that the person named in it must follow. For example, your family member must stay away from your home, workplace or school.
Another example is that your family member must not have any direct or indirect contact with you. It is a criminal offence if the person named in the Protection Order breaches the terms of the Protection Order.
Can you get a family law protection order without notice in BC?
It is possible to get an urgent or emergency family law protection order without notice. BC law allows for the order to be made against a person who is not in court if special circumstances exist such as there being a real risk of harm to you if you were to give your family member notice of the application. Once the Order is made by a Judge, arrangements are then made to have the order served by a third party once the Order has been entered by the Court.
Who can get a family law protection order?
While it may sound strange, family law protection orders are not necessarily available against every member of your family. Here is how the Family Law Act works when it comes to protection orders. An "at-risk family member" can apply for a protection order. “At-risk family member” means a person whose safety and security is or is likely at risk from family violence carried out by a “family member.” A “family member” is defined in the Family Law Act as:
your spouse or former spouse;
a person you are living with, or have lived with, in a marriage-like relationship;
the parent or guardian of your child;
a person you live with and who is related to you;
a person who lives with and who is related to your spouse or former spouse;
a person who lives with and is related to your current or former common-law spouse
a person who lives with and is related to the parent or guardian of your child;
your child provided your child is under the age of 19;
a child who is under the age of 19 and who lives with, or whose parent or guardian is,
one of the family members in this list.
If the person you are seeking protection from is not a “family member” as set out in the list above, the court does not have jurisdiction to make an order for protection under the Family Law Act. So, if you are 19 or older, you cannot get a protection order under section 183 of the Family Law Act against your parent unless you are living with your parent.
What is a peace bond?
Crown counsel have the power to determine if the circumstances warrant obtaining a peace bond against a member of your family. A peace bond can be obtained against anyone so you may be able to get a peace bond against a family member even if you are not eligible for a family protection order under the Family Law Act. A person who fears violence may be able to get a peace bond under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Peace bonds can protect you from anyone who you have reasonable grounds to believe will cause you harm or damage your property.
A peace bond will contain conditions similar to those in a family law protection order. The peace bond restricts the named person from contacting or communicating with you, etc. You start the process of obtaining a peace bond by contacting the police to provide a report of what has happened and why you are seeking a peace bond. They will refer your file to Crown Counsel who will decide if the circumstances warrant obtaining a peace bond.
Do you need help getting a protection order?
At Valerie M. Little Family Law Corporation, we provide calm and professional support during very stressful circumstances. The options available to protect yourself from your family will depend on your circumstances, so we encourage you to contact our family lawyer today at 604-526-3333 if you would like to discuss your own personal situation in confidence. If you believe you are in immediate danger, you should immediately call the police by dialing 911 or immediately visit your nearest police station.