Area of Law: Family Law
Answer # 129
Restraining Orders and Peace BondsRegion: Ontario Answer # 129
There are several things you can do if your spouse is abusing you or your children. These include seeking shelter, having criminal charges laid, getting a peace bond, getting a family law restraining order, or getting an order for exclusive possession of the family home. No one should have to remain in a dangerous or abusive situation. The law and community support agencies make it possible to quickly improve your situation.
A restraining order only applies in family situations, where spouses or partners have separated. Restraining orders only apply to partners and former partners including same-sex partners. It is an order from a judge restraining one spouse from molesting, annoying or harassing the applicant spouse. The restraining order can include conditions forbidding the spouse from attending at the applicant spouse’s place of work, the family home and the children’s school. The restraining order is obtainable under the Family Law Act, and is enforceable by the police.
A restraining order generally has the same effect as a peace bond. The advantage of a restraining order is that it can be obtained quickly from your local family court and without your spouse knowing. However, the restraining order is only valid in Ontario, because it is issued under the Ontario Family Law Act.
Once the court has granted you a restraining order, you should give a copy to your local police department. Once a restraining order has been issued, if it is breached, the police can charge the person breaching the order with a criminal offence and the person may be subject to imprisonment.
How to obtain a Restraining Order
To obtain a restraining order, visit the Family Court in the municipality where you or the other person lives. You will be required to file certain documents, including an application. The application sets out all the issues you are asking the court to deal with. Normally, you will not see a judge for a few weeks, however, if the situation is an emergency, you can bring a motion to get a restraining order immediately.
Depending on which court you are in, you will be required to attend either a first court date, or a case conference, where you will be able to explain your case.
If the judge grants the restraining order, the court staff will prepare it for you. Keep a copy of it with you at all times.
More information on how to obtain a restraining order is available from the Ministry of the Attorney General.
A peace bond is a court order that requires a person to keep the peace, be of good behaviour and obey any other conditions ordered by the court. Peace bonds can be issued for up to one year under the Canadian Criminal Code and for longer under the court’s common law. In practice, however, most peace bonds are issued for one year. Because a peace bond is issued under the federal Criminal Code, it is valid in every province and territory.
Generally, a peace bond can arise in one of two ways. First, a peace bond can be issued in minor criminal cases, where the Crown decides to withdraw the charges if a peace bond is signed. Second, a peace bond can be issued where a person fears, on reasonable grounds, that another person will hurt him or her, damage his or her property or harm his or her spouse or child and has successfully applied to a justice of the peace to sign a peace bond based on this fear.
If a peace bond is issued under the Criminal Code, a violation of the bond or any of its conditions, is a criminal offence. When a peace bond is issued, it will almost always result in records being kept by the local police and the RCMP.
How to obtain a Peace Bond
To obtain a peace bond, call or visit the local courthouse and ask for an appointment with a justice of the peace to explain why you need a peace bond. If the justice of the peace agrees that your personal safety, or that of your children is at risk, or that your property is at risk, he or she will summons the other party to appear in court. You will also be required to attend at court.
If the judge believes, on reasonable grounds, that a peace bond order should be made, the terms of the order will then be decided and the other party will be asked to enter into the bond. If the other party agrees, the peace bond will be ordered. However, if the other party does not agree to the peace bond, a hearing will be scheduled where the judge will listen to both sides, and make a decision whether to order the peace bond.
If the other party still refuses to sign the bond, they may be sentenced up-to 12 months in jail.
Getting legal advice and help
For more information on how to protect yourself from an abusive spouse, contact a women’s shelter, a domestic hotline, or a family law or criminal law lawyer.
If you are considering representing yourself in a family law matter, you may wish to get help from The Family Law Coach. Their experienced family law lawyers can provide information, legal assistance, advice and practical tips to help you prepare your case and improve your outcome. They provide specific services for fixed prices, and you only pay for the services you want.
If you are considering hiring a lawyer to represent you, for legal advice and assistance with domestic dispute issues and other family law matters, contact a family law lawyer.
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