There are laws to protect you and your children from violence.
A judge must consider whether a person has been violent or abusive when considering the person’s ability to care for a child. Ontario’s child protection laws also protect children against physical, sexual and emotional harm. This conduct may also be a crime. If your child is a victim of abuse by the other parent, you can ask the court to deny that parent access or allow access only if it is supervised.
If you are fearful that your spouse or partner or your former spouse or partner will hurt you or your children, you can ask the court to make a restraining order. A restraining order is made by a judge at the family court to help protect you and your child or any child in your custody.
A restraining order will list conditions that the person you are afraid of must obey. The restraining order can be general – that the person you are afraid of has to stay away from you – or it can be specific. It can say that the person must not come to your home, to your place of work, to your children’s school or to other places where you often go (for example, your place of worship or your parent’s home).
If the person who has a restraining order against them disobeys a restraining order, the police can arrest them.
Who can apply for a restraining order?
You can apply for a restraining order at the family court:
You do not need to have children with a person in order to apply for a restraining order against that person. However, you should be aware that you cannot apply for a restraining order against a person you are dating but have not lived with.
The restraining order must be served on your spouse as soon as possible, but you do not have to serve it yourself. It’s best to have someone else serve it for you. If you don’t have a lawyer, court staff will assist you.
If your spouse disobeys the restraining order, you can call the police. The police will want to see the restraining order. Keep it with you at all times. They may also ask you if your spouse knows about the restraining order. If the police believe that your spouse has disobeyed the restraining order, he or she can be arrested.
Exclusive possession of the family home
If you are married, you can ask the court for the right to live in your home and to make your spouse leave. You have an equal right to stay in your home even if the home is in your spouse’s name. It is a good idea to speak to a lawyer if you are asking for an order for exclusive possession of the family home.
If you are not married, you may also ask the court to stay in the home you shared when you lived together, as part of a support order for you or your child. The judge can order this even if you do not own the home or if your name is not on the lease.
Before a judge will order your spouse out of the home, the judge will consider if there was violence in the relationship, if there is another suitable place for you to live, if it is in the children’s best interests to stay in their home, and your financial position.
If the judge agrees to an exclusive possession order, your spouse must move out and stay out of the house. If he or she tries to come in, you can call the police and he or she can be arrested.
Restraining orders and exclusive possession orders may not be enough to stop a violent person from hurting you. Your spouse is already breaking the law by abusing or harassing you or your children and may be prepared to break other laws by hurting you again.
If you are a woman in this situation, a women’s shelter in your community may be the safest place for you to live with your children for a while.
Stop the Abuse
If you are physically or emotionally abusing your spouse, you can do something to stop. You can:
Emergency Checklist for Assaulted Women in Crisis2
When you are being assaulted, call the police. Tell them you are being assaulted.
When the police arrive they must lay a charge if they believe an assault has taken place.
If you have to leave in a hurry, try to take
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* source: attorney-general of Ontario website
Things to know about Family Law