Can I get a Restraining Order?
If you have been the victim of family violence, or if you believe that family violence is likely to occur, the Court can make a Protection Order against the offending family member. An order for protection is commonly called a “restraining order”.
Family violence can be any of the following:
- Physical abuse of a family member, including forced confinement or deprivation of the necessities of life;
- Sexual abuse of a family member;
- Attempts to physically or sexually abuse a family member;
- Psychological or emotional abuse of a family member including: intimidation harassment, coercion, or threats (including threats respecting other persons, pets or property);
- Unreasonable restrictions on, or prevention of, a family member’s financial or personal autonomy;
- Stalking or following a family member;
- Intentionally damaging property; and
- In the case of a child, direct or indirect exposure to family violence.
An application for a Protection Order can be brought on by an “at-risk family member,” by a person on behalf of an at-risk family member, or on the Court’s own initiative.
An “at-risk family member” is defined by the Family Law Act as a person whose safety and security is or is likely to be at risk from family violence carried out by a family member.
What will obtaining a Restraining Order do for me?
A Protection Order can restrain the offending family member from:
- Directly or indirectly communicating with or contacting you; including text messages.
- Attending at or near a place where you attend regularly such as a residence, property, business, school, or place of employment;
- Following you;
- Possessing a weapon, a firearm, or a specified object; and
- Possessing a license, registration certificate, authorization, or other document relating to a weapon or firearm.
What factors does the Court consider when granting a Restraining Order?
In considering whether to make a Protection Order, the Court may consider some of the following factors:
- Whether there is any history of family violence by the offending person against whom the Protection Order is sought;
- Whether the family violence is repetitive or escalating;
- Whether any psychological or emotional abuse constitutes, or is evidence of, a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour directed at the at-risk family member;
- Current status of the relationship between the family member against whom the Protection Order is to be made;
- The at-risk family member’s perception of risks to his or her own safety and security; and
- Circumstances that may increase the at-risk family member’s vulnerability, including age, pregnancy, family circumstances, health, or economic dependence.
These are some of the most common factors that the Court may consider but there are many more.
If there is no evidence that family violence has occurred or is likely to occur, the Court will not make a Protection Order. Merely asserting that you are fearful or at risk will not be enough. There must be some rationale for obtaining a Protection Order.
Although a single of act of violence may be sufficient to prove that there is a risk of future violence (Dawson v. Dawson, 2014 BCSC 44), there is some case law which states when there has been a single isolated act, and the offending party has taken meaningful steps to ensure their behaviour is not repeated, the Court may decline to make a Protection Order on the basis that family violence is not likely to recur in the future.
How long does a Restraining Order last?
Protection orders expire after one year, unless the Court orders otherwise. If you believe you are in need of this service, fill in a contact form anywhere on our website to book a meeting for assistance with obtaining a restraining order.
What happens if the Restraining Order terms are not complied with?
Restraining Orders are enforced under s.127 of the Criminal Code, and the failure to abide by the terms set out in the Protection Order is an indictable offence. The police may arrest the person who is caught breaching the terms of the Order for Protection and they may face serious fines and consequences, including jail time.