Grounds for a Restraining Order - Zukerman Law

Grounds for a Restraining Order

In an increasingly complex world, ensuring personal safety and protection from harm has become paramount. One crucial legal tool available to individuals facing threats or harassment is a restraining order. A restraining order is a court order designed to protect individuals from abuse, harassment, stalking, or threats by legally restricting the behaviour of the offending party.
Understanding the grounds for obtaining a restraining order is essential for those who feel threatened and need legal protection. This blog will explore the various circumstances under which a restraining order can be granted, providing you with the knowledge needed to recognise when such a legal measure is appropriate.
Additionally, we will highlight the importance of legal representation and how Zukerman Law Group can assist you in navigating this process to ensure your safety and peace of mind.

What is a Restraining Order?

What is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is a legal order issued by a court to protect individuals from harm or harassment by another person. It sets specific restrictions on the behaviour of the individual named in the order (the respondent) to prevent further abuse or threats. The primary purpose of a restraining order is to provide immediate protection and peace of mind to the person seeking it (the petitioner).
Restraining orders can mandate various restrictions, including prohibiting the respondent from contacting or approaching the petitioner, their family, or their home, workplace, or school. They can also include provisions for temporary custody or visitation rights, eviction from a shared residence, and the surrender of firearms.

Types of Restraining Orders

Types of Restraining Orders

The legal term for a restraining order can vary depending on your location, but it generally refers to a court order that prohibits one person (the restrained party) from having certain contact with another person (the protected party). These orders are put in place to protect individuals from a variety of threats and harmful behaviours.
There are several reasons why someone might seek a restraining order, and consequently, different types of restraining orders exist to address these specific situations. Here’s a brief overview of some common ones:

Domestic Abuse Restraining Orders and Injunctions

Domestic abuse restraining orders and injunctions typically apply to:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Parents who have a child together
  • Current or former dating partners
  • Family members or cohabitants

These orders aim to protect individuals from domestic abuse, which includes physical pain, injury, illness, sexual assault, property damage, or threats of such actions. The orders can impose various restrictions, such as prohibiting acts of abuse, barring the abuser from the petitioner’s residence or other locations, and forbidding contact with the petitioner. Violations can lead to criminal charges.

For those in abusive relationships, these orders can provide protection. Conversely, if someone is falsely accused of domestic abuse, they may need legal assistance to contest the injunction.

Harassment Restraining Orders and Injunctions

  • Any individual can obtain harassment restraining orders and injunctions to protect against:
  • Physical contact
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Stalking

Threats of the above actionsThey also protect against a “course of conduct” or repeated acts that cause harassment or intimidation without a legitimate purpose. Similar to domestic abuse restraining orders, harassment restraining orders can prohibit the respondent from harassing the petitioner and from being at the petitioner’s residence or any temporary location, among other restrictions.

Child Abuse Restraining Orders and Injunctions

Child abuse restraining orders and injunctions are designed to protect children from abuse or the threat of abuse. During a child abuse injunction hearing, the judge or court commissioner can:

  • Appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s best interests.
  • Close the courtroom to those not directly involved in the case.
  • Restrict access to the case records to the parties, their attorneys, the guardian ad litem, and court personnel.

These orders can prohibit the respondent from being at the child’s residence or temporary location and from contacting the child. In contentious divorce cases, unfounded allegations may arise, so it’s crucial to protect oneself if faced with such a restraining order.

Common Grounds for a Restraining Order

Common Grounds for a Restraining Order

Restraining orders are issued to protect individuals from a variety of harmful behaviours. Here’s a closer look at some common grounds that can justify seeking a restraining order:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any intentional act that causes you physical harm or injury. This can include:

  • Hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, shoving, or any other form of physical violence.
  • Strangulation, suffocation, or other acts that impede your breathing.
  • Using weapons or objects to threaten or inflict harm.
  • Sexual assault or abuse.

It’s important to remember that even minor injuries or threats of violence can be grounds for a restraining order, especially if there’s a pattern of abuse.

Verbal Abuse and Harassment

Verbal abuse and harassment involve behaviour that creates a hostile or intimidating environment. This can include:

  • Yelling, screaming, or swearing at you.
  • Name-calling, insults, or other forms of verbal attacks.
  • Threats of violence or harm to you or your loved ones.
  • Repeated unwanted communication (calls, texts, emails, showing up at your home or workplace).

Even if there’s no physical violence, verbal abuse and harassment can take a significant toll on your mental and emotional well-being. A restraining order can help establish boundaries and prevent further harassment.

Stalking

Stalking involves a repeated course of conduct that makes you feel afraid or unsafe. Stalking behaviours can include:

  • Following you or monitoring your movements.
  • Repeatedly sending unwanted messages or gifts.
  • Showing up at your home or workplace uninvited.
  • Using technology to track your location or monitor your online activity.

Stalking can be a serious crime, and a restraining order can be a crucial tool for protecting yourself from further unwanted contact.
Depending on your location, there may be other grounds for seeking a restraining order, such as:

  • Property Damage: If someone is repeatedly damaging your property or threatening to do so, a restraining order can help protect your belongings.
  • Threats to Children/Pets: Threats of violence directed towards your children or pets can also be grounds for a restraining order.
How to Obtain a Restraining Order?

How to Obtain a Restraining Order?

If you feel unsafe and believe a restraining order is necessary, here’s a general roadmap of the process, keeping in mind that specifics may differ by location:

Filing a Petition

The first step is to file a petition with the local court. This petition outlines the reasons why you need a restraining order and details the specific actions of the person you’re seeking protection from.
Many courthouses offer assistance with filing procedures, and there may be online resources available, too.

Evidence to Support Your Case

Strong evidence is crucial for obtaining a restraining order. Here are some examples of what can support your case:

Police Reports: If you’ve reported past incidents of violence, harassment, or stalking to the police, these reports can be powerful evidence.
Medical Records: Documentation of injuries sustained due to abuse can be significant proof.
Witness Statements: Written statements from people who have witnessed threatening or harassing behaviour can bolster your case.
Evidence of Stalking: Keep a record of unwanted calls, texts, emails, or social media messages. Note down instances of being followed or having your location monitored.
Photos or Recordings (with caution): If it can be done safely, take photos of any injuries or property damage. In some jurisdictions, recordings of threats may be admissible with legal guidance.

The Court Hearing

A judge will hear arguments from both sides during the court hearing. Be prepared to calmly and clearly explain the situation and why you fear for your safety.
The person you’re seeking protection from may have the right to present their side of the story.
The judge will then decide whether to grant the restraining order, modify it, or deny it altogether.

While it is possible to navigate the restraining order process without an attorney, legal representation offers significant advantages:

  • Understanding the Law: Attorneys are familiar with the specific legalities of restraining orders in your area and can ensure your petition is filed correctly.
  • Gathering Evidence: They can help you gather and present the most compelling evidence to support your case.
  • Courtroom Experience: Lawyers are experienced in presenting cases before a judge and can effectively advocate for your safety.
  • Emotional Support: The process of obtaining a restraining order can be emotionally draining. An attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

Zukerman Law Group understands the physical and emotional toll of feeling unsafe. Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of abuse, harassment, and stalking obtain the protection they deserve. Contact Zukerman Law Group today for a consultation, and let us help you navigate the restraining order process.

Conclusion

Understanding the legal grounds for obtaining a restraining order is crucial for anyone facing threats, harassment, or abuse. By knowing the steps involved in filing a petition, gathering evidence, and navigating the court hearing process, you can take the necessary actions to protect yourself and your loved ones. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to go through this challenging process alone. Seeking legal representation can provide you with the support and expertise needed to secure a restraining order effectively.

FAQs

  • 1- What proof do you need for a restraining order in Canada?1

    You’ll need to collect police reports, photographs of damaged property or injuries, witness testimonies, or recorded conversations.

  • 2- Does a restraining order show up on a background check in Canada?1

    In Canada, a restraining order itself typically does not show up on a standard background check. However, if the restraining order is related to a criminal case or if the person has been charged with or convicted of violating the restraining order, those criminal records could appear on a background check.

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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.