Depending on the urgency of the situation and the relationship between you and your abuser, a judge can grant different types of court orders to stop your abuser from contacting you.
This page provides information on the following types of orders:
- Protection Orders (if your abuser is a family member)
- Exclusive Possession Orders (if you live with your abuser)
- Restraining Orders
- Peace Bonds (if your abuser has or might commit a crime)
In Alberta, there is a law called the Protection Against Family Violence Act. This law provides a way for a family member experiencing abuse, the police, or another person acting with the consent of the abused person to apply for a Protection Order.
Protection Orders are granted when family members are experiencing family violence.
Family violence includes:
- any action or non-action that causes injury or property damage and that intimidates or harms a family member;
- any act or threatened act that intimidates a family member by creating a reasonable fear of property damage or injury to a family member;
- forced confinement;
- sexual abuse; or
A family member means:
- a current or former spouse;
- a current or former adult interdependent partner;
- someone you currently live with or formerly lived with in an intimate relationship;
- a parent of your children (even if you are not in a relationship or do not live together);
- someone you are related to by blood, marriage or adoption or by virtue of an adult interdependent relationship;
- your children or other children in your care;
- someone you live with where one person has care and custody over the other person pursuant to a court order (such as a guardianship order or trusteeship order).
There are two types of Protection Orders:
- Emergency Protection Orders (EPOs);
- Queen’s Bench Protection Orders (QBPOs).
Emergency Protection Orders (EPOs)
An EPO is granted in emergency situations at any time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). It is granted by a justice of the peace or a Provincial Court judge.
An EPO usually states that the abuser cannot contact the victim and cannot go near certain places where the victim goes regularly. An EPO can also give the abused person exclusive occupation of a residence if the abuser and the abused person live together.
Once an EPO has been issued by the court, a copy of the order will be given to the abuser, usually by the police or a process server. Once the abuser has a copy of the EPO, the abuser must comply with the order. If the abuser does not comply with the order, the abused person can contact the police.
An EPO is reviewed within nine working days after it is granted. At that time, the order can be cancelled or confirmed or a QBPO can be issued instead.
To get an EPO, contact your local police or victim services agency. You can also contact Legal Aid Alberta’s Emergency Protection Order Program for free advice and assistance.
For more information on EPOs, see CPLEA’s Emergency Protection Orders booklet.
Queen’s Bench Protection Orders (QBPOs)
A QBPO is similar to an EPO but it is granted in non-emergency situations. The abuser must receive notice that the abused person is making an application for a QBPO. A QBPO is granted by a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. It can be in place for one year and extended further if necessary.
A QBPO can:
- state that the abuser cannot contact the abused person and cannot go near certain places where the abused person goes regularly;
- give an abused person exclusive occupation of a residence;
- give exclusive possession of personal property to one person, such as a vehicle, ID documents, bank cards, keys, etc.; and
- require that the abuser reimburse the abused person for monetary losses the abused person suffered, such as loss of income, medical or dental expenses, moving and accommodation expenses, legal expenses and the cost of applying for the QBPO.
Once a QBPO has been issued by the court, a copy of the order will be given to the abuser, usually by the police or a process server. Once the abuser has a copy of the QBPO, the abuser must comply with the order. If the abuser does not comply with the order, the abused person can contact the police.
For more information on QBPOs, see CPLEA’s Queen’s Bench Protection Orders booklet.
Exclusive Possession Orders
An Exclusive Possession Order is a court order under Alberta’s Family Law Act or Matrimonial Property Act that can give you sole possession of the matrimonial or family home.
A court can order your spouse or adult interdependent partner be evicted from the home and can require them to stop entering or going near the home. An Exclusive Possession Order can also give you exclusive possession of the family vehicle, pets and other household goods you may need.
For more information, see CPLEA’s Exclusive Possession Orders booklet.
For legal help, see the More Info page for information on how to find a lawyer.
Restraining Orders (RO)
If you are not eligible for an EPO or QBPO, then a Restraining Order may be your next best option.
A Restraining Order is a type of no-contact order issued by a justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta that requires a person to stay away from you. You can apply for a RO against anyone whose behaviour causes you to fear for your safety. This includes family violence.
A RO can only be requested during normal court hours. In an emergency situation, a RO can be granted without notice to the abuser. In these cases, the RO is usually reviewed within 2 weeks so that the abuser can respond to the allegations.
In a non-emergency situation, notice of the RO application must be given to the abuser, who can then choose to attend the court application and speak about the order being requested from their perspective. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer to help you apply and represent you in court.
ROs are different from Protection Orders (EPOs and WBPOs) in two main ways:
- they are not limited to family members; and
- they only deal with preventing contact between people.
A RO cannot evict someone from a place where they a legal right to live. Only a Protection Order can do this.
A RO can include special terms that state how far away the person must stay from you and identify specific locations where the person must not attend or try to contact you. In each case, the judge granting the order will decide the specific terms in the order and how long it should remain in effect. You can request or suggest terms to the judge, but the judge does not need to accept your request or suggestion.
It is very important to include a term that gives the police the power to arrest the abuser if the order is broken. This is called a police enforcement clause. If the RO contains this clause, then the RO should be registered with the police. If the abuser tries to contact the abused or breach the order, the police will be able to arrest them.
Simply having the order in place does not guarantee your safety. You should exercise caution. Carry a copy of the RO at all times to be able to show it to any authority, such as the police, who can then take the necessary action in arresting the abuser.
For more information on ROs, see CPLEA’s Restraining Orders booklet.
For legal help, see the More Info page for information on how to find a lawyer.
A Peace Bond is usually not ideal in emergency situations because there can be a delay of two or three months from the date of the request to the date of the hearing.
A Peace Bond (also called a recognizance) is a type of no-contact order issued by a criminal court judge. It can be issued in two different situations:
- where someone has committed a minor criminal offence; or
- where someone appears likely to commit a criminal offence but there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence has been committed.
The judge can order that the alleged abuser:
- keep the peace and not be charged with any other criminal offences for up to one year;
- stay away from your home, place of employment and other places where you frequently go;
- stop communicating with you, in person, by mail or email, telephone, etc.;
- stop using alcohol or drugs;
- periodically report to the police or a probation officer; or
- follow a curfew.
A peace bond cannot be used to protect from emotional or financial abuse.
Applying for a Peace Bond requires a court hearing. There are two ways to request a court hearing:
- Go to the police. The police will ask the Crown Prosecutor to apply for a Peace Bond on your behalf.
- If the police do not agree to proceed, you can go directly to the Provincial Court of Alberta and speak with a justice of the peace.
The abused person must be prepared to appear in court and give evidence to show that there are reasonable grounds to fear that the alleged abuser might cause personal injury or damage to property. The judge will decide if a Peace Bond is appropriate.
There may be other steps in the process. The police may interview the alleged abuser and conduct an investigation. They may lay criminal charges or arrest the alleged abuser. They may ask the alleged abuser to consent to the terms of the Peace Bond.
Once the Peace Bond is issued by the Court, if the alleged abuser does not comply with it, they could be charged and convicted of an offence.
For more information on Peace Bonds, see CPLEA’s Peace Bonds booklet.
For more resources on abuse, see CPLEA’s publications on Abuse and Family Violence.