How Can I Get a Restraining Order? - Zukerman Law

How Can I Get a Restraining Order?

No doubt, living in fear takes an immense emotional and physical toll. However, it doesn’t mean that if someone is threatening or abusing you, it can feel like there’s no escape. Restraining orders are essential tools in the law system to keep people safe. They are mainly used to protect someone from being hurt or bothered, especially in cases like domestic violence, stalking, or abuse. The essence of a restraining order is to legally restrict the actions of a person deemed a threat, ensuring the safety and peace of mind of the person seeking protection.

What is a Restraining Order?

What is a Restraining Order?

A family court issues a restraining order to establish specific restrictions based on the particular requirements of each case. This legal directive controls where an individual can go and with whom they may communicate, providing a clear boundary for their actions. For instance, the order could forbid someone from coming within 500 meters of you and your children or 750 meters of your home or workplace. Additionally, it might limit their ability to talk to or contact you or your children unless done through a specified agency or intermediary. It’s crucial to understand that violating the conditions of a restraining order constitutes a criminal offense. This measure is intended to provide protection by ensuring a safe distance, thus safeguarding the welfare of those who feel endangered.

Who Can Apply for a Restraining Order?

Who Can Apply for a Restraining Order?

If you’re considering getting a restraining order, it’s essential to understand the eligibility criteria. In family court, you can typically apply for a restraining order under these specific circumstances:

  • Marital Connection: If you are currently married to the individual or have been married to them in the past, you are eligible to apply for a restraining order.
  • Cohabitation History: Eligibility is also given to those who have previously shared a residence with the person in question, irrespective of how long this living arrangement lasted.
  • Shared Parenthood: If you and the individual have a child together, this relationship establishes your eligibility for a restraining order.

It is crucial to note that these conditions are applicable regardless of whether the individual is of the same or opposite sex as you. However, if your situation does not conform to these scenarios, pursuing a peace bond in criminal court is an alternative. This option is viable for a broader spectrum of relationships.

What’s the Difference Between a Restraining Order and a Peace Bond?

Understanding the difference between a restraining order and a peace bond is essential to choosing the right protection. A restraining order is used in family law to prevent contact or harassment, often in domestic situations. It requires proving the need for protection in court. A peace bond, under criminal law, is for broader situations where you fear harm from anyone, not just family or partners. It involves convincing a judge about your fear, starting with a police complaint. Restraining orders are specific to family or intimate relationships, while peace bonds cover a wider range, including neighbors or strangers, ensuring you select the appropriate legal safeguard for your situation.

Types of Restraining Orders

Types of Restraining Orders

Understanding the different types of restraining orders is key to finding the right protection. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Standard Restraining Order: Used in domestic violence scenarios, it doesn’t require proof of abuse and can last up to five years, with the option to renew.
  • Emergency Restraining Order: For immediate threats, it offers quick protection for up to six months and can be extended if necessary.
  • No Contact Restraining Order: This forbids any contact from the restrained individual and often includes keeping them away from your home or workplace.
  • Financial Abuse Restraining Order: Aims to protect those facing economic manipulation by limiting access to finances and assets.
  • Peace and Good Behavior Order: Prevents actions that disturb public peace, like harassment or threats, for up to a year.
Why Get a Restraining Order?

Why Get a Restraining Order?

When you’re facing situations of abuse, threats, or harassment, applying for a restraining order can be a critically important step to safeguard your safety. This legal measure acts as a shield, effectively restricting an abuser’s ability to come near or communicate with you. It becomes particularly vital in cases of physical or sexual abuse, stalking, or ongoing intimidation.

Navigating the process to secure a restraining order may appear daunting, but it plays a crucial role in protecting your well-being. The order serves to enforce specific boundaries, such as maintaining a safe distance from the abuser or barring them from accessing shared locations. Remember,  while a restraining order is a civil measure, violating it can lead to criminal consequences.

 If you’re considering getting a restraining order, consulting qualified family lawyers like Zukerman Law Group can help you understand if it’s the right decision for your situation.

What Proof do you need for a Restraining Order in Canada?

What Proof do you need for a Restraining Order in Canada?

To successfully obtain a restraining order in Canada, it’s essential to provide solid proof that justifies the need for such an order. Here’s a breakdown of the kind of evidence typically required:

  • You have to prove you’re truly scared for your safety or your kids’ safety. This fear has to come from specific stuff the other person did or said.
  • Give detailed stories of what made you afraid. Talk about any threats, harassment, or physical abuse. The more details, the better.
  • Anything else backing up your story helps. Police reports, medical records of injuries from abuse, threatening messages – anything showing what happened.
  • If anyone saw the abuse or threats, their accounts are so important. They back up your story from an outside view.
  • Photos of injuries or damage done by the abuser are compelling. They show visually how you were hurt.
  • If there’s a history of abuse or harassment, list those times. It shows a pattern in their behavior.

Getting all this evidence takes real care and often legal help. Talk to a lawyer to make your case as strong as possible. The more detailed proof you have, the better your chances of getting the order.

How to Get a Restraining Order Against Someone?

How to Get a Restraining Order Against Someone?

Filing a restraining order in Toronto is a process designed to ensure your safety and well-being. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigating this process effectively:

  • Preparing the Forms: Your first step is to fill out the right form. Depending on your situation – whether it’s a family matter or a concern involving someone like a neighbor or coworker – there are different forms to use. If using your home address is risky, you can safely use another address, like a friend’s or your workplace.
  • Declaration of Application: Before the court date, you must declare your application before a Commissioner for Oaths. This can be done at the court itself, where a court clerk can act as the Commissioner.
  • Filing the Application: Make two copies of your application and file them. The court will keep the original and return the copies to you with their stamp.
  • Court Appearance: On the assigned court date, you need to bring a copy of your application and present your case before the judge.
  • Serving the Respondent: The next important step is to serve the court materials to the respondent. It’s crucial not to do this yourself. You can ask a friend, family member, or a professional process server to do it for you.
  • Affidavit of Service: The individual who served the documents must complete an Affidavit of Service, which is then declared before a Commissioner for Oaths. This affidavit serves as proof that the respondent was properly notified of your application.
  • Notifying the Police: Once your Ex Parte Restraining Order is in place, you should take a copy of the order, the filed Affidavit of Service, and the Statement of Description to your local police or RCMP. This step is crucial for ensuring the police are aware of the order and can enforce it if necessary.
  • Review Date Attendance: The initial restraining order is only valid until the review date, typically set within two weeks. At this review, the judge will listen to arguments from both sides and decide whether the restraining order should be renewed. If renewed, a new order will be issued.
  • Serving the Renewed Order: If the respondent was not present in court to receive the renewed restraining order, it’s your responsibility to arrange for them to be personally served with it.

By following these steps, you can effectively file a restraining order, ensuring your safety and peace of mind. Following each step carefully is essential to ensure the restraining order is legally binding and enforceable.

What to Do After Getting a Restraining Order?

What to Do After Getting a Restraining Order?

After successfully obtaining a restraining order, there are several crucial steps to follow to ensure your continued safety and the effectiveness of the order. Here’s an expanded guide on what to do next:

Understand the Order’s Terms

  • Familiarise yourself thoroughly with the specifics of the restraining order. Know precisely what restrictions it places on the respondent and what behaviors are prohibited.
  • Read through the order carefully multiple times and consult your attorney if any part is unclear. Don’t make assumptions – get certainty.

Keep a Copy Handy

  • Always have the original order with you when leaving the house. Also, keep copies at home, work, in your car, and in any frequented places.
  • Store digital copies on your phone and email the order to yourself so you can access it anywhere. Use cloud storage as a backup.

Inform Key People

  • Provide copies to family, close friends, your workplace, and your children’s school/daycare. Notify neighbors and give them permission to call the police if violations occur.

Safety Planning

  • Devise detailed safety plans for home, work, school, etc. Identify escape routes, safe areas, and alternative living arrangements if necessary.
  • Install security systems. Make sure childcare facilities know who can and cannot pick up children.

Contact Law Enforcement if Violated

  • If violated, immediately contact the police to report it. They can enforce the order and take necessary legal action against the violator.

Document Violations

  • Maintain thorough documentation of all violations, including date, time, location, witnesses, and specifics of what was violated.
  • Collect evidence like photos, videos, and screenshots of communications.

Seek Support

  • Seek counselling, join support groups, or get an advocate to help you cope and navigate the process. Reach out to trusted friends for support.

Review and Renew

  • Be aware of when the order expires. If you feel it’s necessary to extend the protection, start the renewal process well before the expiry date.

Stay Informed

  • Continuously educate yourself on restraining orders, victims’ rights, and domestic violence issues.
  • Consult attorneys periodically to ensure you know of any legal changes.

Remember, an order aids protection but doesn’t guarantee safety. Continue taking proactive measures, use available resources, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. With the right precautions and support, you can ensure your well-being.

How long does it take to get a Restraining Order in Canada?

How long does it take to get a Restraining Order in Canada?

The duration for a court decision on a restraining order can differ based on the case’s details and the number of witnesses. Typically, a judge is expected to decide within 30 days following the hearing. However, the process could extend to a few months in more complex situations.

Final Remarks

Remember, obtaining a restraining order is your right and a crucial step for your safety. Though the process may seem challenging, it’s designed to protect you. Don’t hesitate to seek professional help from legal professionals like Zukerman Law Group, who can guide you through the legalities and offer support. Additionally, support organizations and law enforcement are there to assist you. Stay informed and prioritize your safety, knowing you have the right to protect yourself.

author

Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.