In British Columbia, there are two types of orders that can be referred to as restraining orders: (1) a family protection order; and (2) a peace bond.
Both orders work differently, but both are designed to protect family members from harm. They are meant to be deployed in circumstances in which you feel unsafe but you are not in immediate danger. If you feel like you are in a situation that is immediately dangerous for you, or your family, you should immediately call 911.
In this week’s blog, we’re going to look at family protection orders and peace bonds; how to get either, and the different situations in which each is deployed.
How to Get a Protection Order in BC
A family protection order is designed to protect you and your family members from violence or the risk of violence from another family member. Courts in BC have recognized that family violence can include numerous behaviours, including the following:
- physical abuse, including forced confinement or deprivation of the necessities of life;
- sexual abuse;
- psychological or emotional abuse of a family member, including intimidation, harassment, coercion, threats, or demeaning remarks;
- in the case of a child, direct or indirect exposure to family violence; or
- litigation conduct amounting to a form of emotional abuse and harassment.
Protection orders are obtained through the BC Family Law Act and are typically applied for through the BC Provincial Court, although they can also be applied for via the BC Supreme Court.
In the BC Provincial Court, to apply for a protection order, you simply need to complete the Preparing an Application About a Protection Order form. There are no costs associated with applying for a protection order in the BC Provincial Court; it is free. You file the completed form and attend the court hearing.
However, there are costs associated with applying for a protection order in the BC Supreme Court. It typically costs $80 or $200, depending on whether you already have a case before the court. If you apply for a protection order in the BC Supreme Court, you will also have to complete and present additional information to the courts, namely an affidavit and a notice of application.
As per section 183(5) of the Family Law Act, a protection order will expire after one year, unless the courts declare otherwise. If the court does not declare otherwise and the protection order expires, you will need to re-apply for it if you still need protection.
How to Apply for a Peace Bond in BC
The key difference between a peace bond and a family protection order is that a peace bond can be taken out against anyone, not just a family member. As such, a peace bond is obtained under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Applying for a peace bond in BC is a relatively simple process. An individual must contact the police, explain why they feel under a threat of violence, and ask the police to put a peace bond in place. If the police believe that the threat of violence is legitimate, they will enlist the services of a government lawyer and begin the process of putting a peace bond in place.
Like a protection order, peace bonds expire after one year and must be re-applied for if the threat persists.
Here to Help
At Westside Family Law, we have helped countless clients navigate the protection order and peace bond process. If you have any questions, or need to discuss your unique situation, contact us and we’ll be happy to help!