Protective Orders under Provincial Laws: Alberta

In Alberta, there are several kinds of protective orders, including:

The laws about protective orders vary in each jurisdiction. The various orders described below relate to Alberta law only. For links to information about protective orders in other jurisdictions, please see our page of Additional Resources.

 


Protective Orders under the Protection Against Family Violence Act (Alberta)

The Protection Against Family Violence Act of Alberta (PAFVA) is a law that protects “family members” from family violence in certain situations. It covers most types of physical abuse but not financial and emotional abuse.

Under this Act, “family members” are generally people who live together, who are or were a couple, or who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption.  The Act defines family members as follows:

  • people who are, or have been, married, adult interdependent partners, or living together in an intimate relationship;
  • parents of a child, regardless of marital status or living arrangement;
  • people related by blood, marriage, adoption, or an adult interdependent relationship;
  • any child in the care and custody of a parent or people in a marriage, adult interdependent relationship, or intimate relationship; and
  • people who live together where one person has the care and custody over the other as a result of a court order.

Under the PAFVA, there are two kinds of protective orders:

  • Emergency Protection Order
  • Queen's Bench Protection Order

There orders are available in Alberta only. For links to information about protective orders in other jurisdictions, please see our page of Additional Resources.

 


Emergency Protection Order (PAVFA  - Alberta) 

An Emergency Protection Order is an order that police can obtain from the court to provide immediate protection to an abused family member. It is only available in emergency situations when such an action is required for the protection of the person making the claim.

A person can apply for such an Emergency Protection Order without even letting the abuser know about the application (and that is what makes it different from a Queen’s Bench Protection Order). In addition, the application can be made by telephone or in person at any hour (24 hours per day, 7 days per week) and it is not necessary to have a lawyer (often the police make the application).

An Emergency Protection Order can, amongst other things, require that an abusive family member:

  • temporarily leave the home,
  • not contact other family members, and
  • not come near the home, workplace, or school of other family members.

In an addition, the police can, if authorized, take away guns, knives, and other weapons.

If the order is granted without the other person being present, a copy of the order must be served on that person as soon as possible by the police.

There must then be a review of the order within seven days when all parties can be present. A judge will then decide whether or not the order should be confirmed or revoked.

If the abuser breaks the terms of the order, he or she can be charged with a criminal offence or cited for contempt of court.

This order is available in Alberta only. For links to information about protective orders in other jurisdictions, please see our page of Additional Resources.

 


Queen’s Bench Protection Order (PAVFA  - Alberta only) 

A Queen's Bench Protection Order can be requested in non-emergency situations. The person against whom the order is sought must be given notice of the hearing and can attend the hearing to state why he or she thinks that the order should not be granted.

An abused older adult can get this order by:

  • asking for it during a review of an Emergency Protection Order, or
  • applying directly to Court of Queen's Bench.

 A Queen's Bench Protection Order can, amongst other things, require that the abusive family member:

  • leave the home;
  • not contact other family members, co-workers, employers, employees, or friends;
  • not go near the home or workplace or any other location that the older adult frequents;
  • get counseling;
  • surrender weapons to police; and
  • pay back costs that were suffered as a result of the violence, for example, medical expenses.

Similarly, the Court can give one party temporary possession of cheque-books, cars, credit cards, and other personal property. Or, the Court could order that neither party take, use, or damage property in which the other has an interest.

The order can be in force for up to one year and can be extended for one-year periods.

If the abuser breaks the terms of the order, he or she can be charged with a criminal offence or cited for contempt of court. Any sums of money that are not paid in accordance with the order will be handled by the Maintenance Enforcement Program.

It is helpful to have legal assistance for a review hearing of an emergency protection order or an application for a Queen's Bench Protection Order.

  • For review hearings, Duty counsel is available from Legal Aid (this service is not subject to financial limits).
  • For the renewal of an order or for applying for a Queen's Bench Protection Order, legal assistance might be available from Legal Aid and will be subject to financial limits.

This order is available in Alberta only. For links to information about protective orders in other jurisdictions, please see our page of Additional Resources.


Where to get Help for PAVFA Orders (Alberta)

Emergency

In an emergency situation, the police will assist you.

Legal Aid

Legal Aid can provide legal assistance for the review process of an Emergency Protection Order. This service is available to everyone regardless of income.

However, if you have low income, you can apply to Legal Aid for legal assistance in other matters as well. To see if you qualify for Legal Aid in other situations, contact Legal Aid. Please see our page of Additional Resources for the contact information.

If you do qualify for Legal Aid:

  • in Edmonton or Calgary, contact the Family Law Office;
  • for other areas of Alberta, a list of lawyers appointed to act by Legal Aid can be accessed through local Legal Aid offices.

In addition, Alberta Law Line has free advice and referrals for those who qualify. Please see our page of Additional Resources for the contact information.

Hiring a Lawyer

If you do not qualify for Legal Aid, you must then decide whether to hire a lawyer.

If you do not know a lawyer who can help, the Law Society of Alberta will provide names of lawyers in private practice who work in this area of law. Contact the Lawyer Referral Service. The service can give you the names and numbers of three lawyers who are in your area and who practice in this area of law. You can see any or all of these lawyers free for half an hour before you decide which one to hire. Please see our page of Additional Resources for the contact information.

In Calgary, there is also the opportunity for assistance from Calgary Legal Guidance. Please see our page of Additional Resources for contact details. There are financial limits that apply to qualify.

Family Law Information Centres in Edmonton and Calgary may also be able to help you. Please see our page of Additional Resources for the contact information.


Restraining Orders (Alberta) 

This following information is for Alberta only. For links to information about protective orders in other jurisdictions, please see our page of Additional Resources.

A Restraining Order is granted by the civil courts. If you are using the civil courts already, for example for a divorce, it can be convenient to use the same court to apply for a Restraining Order. In order to obtain a Restraining Order, you must make an application to the Court of Queen's Bench.

A Restraining Order is an order that orders a person to stay away another, and prohibits him or her from hurting or threatening to hurt that other person. The Order can be quite detailed in naming the locations that the abuser must stay away from. For example, the order can state that a person should not go within two hundred metres of another's home or workplace. The order can also specify that a person is not to contact that other person by any means.

How long does a Restraining Order last?

If an emergency Restraining Order is granted and the abuser is not present, the order will require that a copy be served on him or her. A date is given for the order to be reviewed. On the date for review, the abuser may attend at court to state any reasons why the final order should not be granted. If he or she is unsuccessful or does not attend court, the order will be made for a fixed period of time.

In a non-emergency situation, notice will be given to the other party and the judge will hear evidence from both sides before deciding to grant the order, and how long it will last.

In both cases, the judge decides how long the restraining order will last.

How do I get a Restraining Order?

If you have low income, you can apply to Legal Aid for legal assistance to get a Restraining Order. To find where your nearest Legal Aid office is and to find out other information about Legal Aid, please see our page of Additional Resources. If you are in an emergency situation and need a Restraining Order quickly, be sure to tell the staff at the Legal Aid office.

In Edmonton and Calgary, if you qualify for Legal Aid, you will then be sent to the Family Law Office who will look after applying for the restraining order for you. Lawyers at the Family Law Office can also assist with other matters that may be covered by your legal aid certificate.

In Calgary, there is also the opportunity for assistance from Calgary Legal Guidance. Please see our page of Additional Resources for contact details. There are financial limits that apply to qualify.

If you do not qualify for Legal Aid, you must then decide whether to hire a lawyer or to apply for the restraining order yourself.

If you decide to hire a lawyer, the Lawyer Referral Service can give you the names and numbers of three lawyers who practice in this area of law. Often, you can see any or all of these lawyers free for half an hour before you decide which one to hire. For information on how to apply for the restraining order yourself see here. Please see our page of Additional Resources for contact details.

How do I enforce a Restraining Order?

It is a good idea to carry a copy of the Restraining Order with you at all times. If a person breaches the terms of a Restraining Order, the person can be arrested and may be held in contempt of court (but a breach of a Restraining Order is not a criminal offence). If you carry a copy of the order, you will be able to show it to any authority, such as the police, who can then take the necessary action in arresting the offender.

 

 

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