Get a restraining order

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Family Law - Partner abuse
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ontario Women's Justice Network (OWJN)

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How can I keep my abusive partner away from me after I leave?
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Get a restraining order

If your partner is harassing you after you've left and you don't want to call the police or if the police tell you there is nothing they can do, you may want to ask the family court for a restraining order.

A restraining order is a family court order that limits what a person can do in any way that the court thinks is appropriate to your situation. The order might limit where a person can go, or who they can contact or communicate with. For example, it can say that your partner must not:

  • come within 500 metres of you and your children
  • come within 750 metres of your home and work
  • talk to or contact you or your children except through an agency or another person

Most people prefer to get a restraining order instead of a peace bond. This is because a restraining order can apply for a longer period of time. Also, if you have already started a family law court case, you might get one faster than a peace bond. Read the question “What is the difference between a restraining order and a peace bond?” to learn more.

Who can apply

In most cases you can apply for a restraining order against your partner if at least one of these is true:

  • you were married to your partner
  • you lived together with your partner for any period of time
  • you have a child who is in your custody

If none of these situations apply to you, you can think about going to criminal court to ask for a peace bond. 

Prove why you need the order

You need to prove that you have "reasonable grounds" to fear for your safety or the safety of any child in your custody. You must show why you are afraid for yourself or any child. Things your partner has said or done in the past can prove this.

Think about the conditions that you think will keep you safe. You have to give the judge detailed information on why you want certain conditions.

A restraining order can be temporary or permanent. Most restraining orders are temporary.

How to get a restraining order

How you get your restraining order depends on your situation. You may ask for a restraining order by:

Most people bring both an application and a motion at the same time. You might need to bring a motion because it takes a long time for an application to reach a trial.

Going to court can be complicated and it can take a lot of time. It can also be stressful and expensive. But going to court is sometimes the only way to stay safe and to make decisions about your issues.

After you get a restraining order

Keep a certified copy of the restraining order with you at all times. The police need to see the restraining order before they can do anything if your partner doesn't follow it.

You might also want to give a copy to other people. For example, if there is a condition that your partner cannot contact your child, you should give a copy of the restraining order to your child's teacher or principal so that they can show it to the police if your partner tries to pick up your child from school.

If your partner does not follow the order

If your partner does not follow the restraining order, the police can arrest them, charge them with a crime, and hold them for a bail hearing. If your partner is released, it will likely be on stricter bail conditions than the restraining order.

If your partner is charged with a crime for not following the restraining order, you might have both family and criminal court happening at the same time.

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Reviewed: August 31, 2017

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