Legal Protection Against Family Violence & Abuse
This section is about protection orders, what they are, how to get one, and what to do if an abuser disobeys the order.
What is a protection order?
If someone has threatened you, been violent towards you, or caused you to fear for your or your children’s safety, you can apply for a protection order. There are two kinds of protection orders in BC, peace bonds and family law protection orders. You can apply for either or both. Both are described later in this booklet. You do not have to prove that you have been harmed, only that you have a reasonable fear of the abuser.
In a protection order, the judge sets conditions the abuser must follow. There is usually a condition that prohibits your abuser from contacting you or allows limited contact only. It is important to have a copy of the order with you at all times. Disobeying the order is a crime. The abuser can be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.
If your abuser does not follow the protection order call 911 immediately. If your community doesn’t have 911 service call the local police emergency phone number. Tell the police what happened. Be sure to tell them that you have a protection order. The police will be able to confirm that you have an order, even if you don’t have a copy of it when you call.
What is the protection order registry?
The protection order registry keeps a record of all protection orders issued by BC courts. This means that when you call the police about the abuser, the police can confirm that you have an order, what it says, and if it still applies. They can then enforce the protection order right away. Make sure your protection order is registered. You can call VictimLink BC at 1.800.563.0808 (no charge, 24 hours a day) to make sure your protection order is registered and that the information on is correct. If your contact details change, call to update the protection order.
What is a peace bond?
You can get a peace bond against anyone who causes you to fear for your safety. The peace bond tells the person named that he or she must “be of good behaviour and keep the peace.” This means that the person must not harass or threaten you.
The peace bond usually says that the person cannot contact you. If they do, they are breaking the law. A peace bond lasts for up to one year. You may be able to apply for another one after a year.
What does a peace bond do?
A peace bond can protect you from anyone, including your spouse or ex-spouse. It can protect you, your children, and your property. It can also protect your new spouse or partner. A peace bond can be enforced by the police anywhere in Canada.
How do I get a peace bond?
Call your local police or RCMP and tell them that you need a peace bond. The legal name of a peace bond is an “810 recognizance”. Tell the officer why you are afraid or in danger. The police officer can prepare the peace bond or you can apply yourself. If you apply yourself, it is a good idea to get legal advice first. There is no fee to apply for a peace bond.
What is a family law protection order
A family law protection order can protect you from a family member, which includes:
- your spouse, your child’s parent or guardian, or a relative who lives with them
- a relative of yours who lives with you
A family law protection order can protect:
- you, your children, and other family members who live with you
- any other children living in your home and home of your current spouse or partner, or the home of your child’s parent or guardian
A family law protection order lasts until the end date on the order. If the judge does not set an end date, the order lasts one year. This order can be enforced by a police officer anywhere in BC. If you move out of BC you may be able to register your order with the courts in your new location, or you may have to apply for a new order.
How do I get a family law protection order?
You can apply for a protection order by yourself, but it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer first. Apply for a protection order in either the Provincial Court or Supreme Court. There is no fee in Provincial Court, but there is a fee in Supreme Court.
For more information about peace bonds and family law protection orders check the online resources on the Legal Services Society website. Details are in the Help, services and more information section of this booklet.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.|
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