Think about safety issues

How does an abusive relationship affect my family law issues?
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Think about safety issues

If your partner has abused you or your children, think about the best way to keep all of you safe. This usually includes a court order if you have serious safety concerns.

Keep your partner away

You can take steps to keep your partner away from you and your children. These steps can include asking the family court for a restraining order.

Your home

If you want to stay in your home, you can ask the court for an order for exclusive possession of the matrimonial home. This means you and your children can stay in, or return to, your home and your partner isn't allowed on the property. It also allows you to change the locks so that your partner cannot get into the home.

This order doesn't affect who owns the home. It only affects who can live in the home. It usually only lasts for a certain period of time, while you and your partner or the court decide how to resolve all of your other issues.

You can get an order for exclusive possession only if you were married. If you were in a common-law relationship, who can stay in the home usually depends on who owns it.

You and your partner might also agree that you have exclusive possession to the home. You can make a separation agreement that includes who can live in the home.

Decision-making responsibility and parenting time

If you have children, you might want to ask for:

  • Decision-making responsibility, which used to be called custody: if you do not feel safe talking to your partner, or feel like they would scare or frighten you into doing what they want.
  • Supervised parenting time, which used to be called supervised access: if you think your partner might try to hurt the children physically or emotionally, or if you think your partner will take the children and not bring them back.
  • Supervised exchanges: if you think your partner might try to hurt you physically or emotionally when you or your partner picks up or drops off the children.
  • A non-removal order that your partner cannot leave the province or country with your children: if you think they will take the children and not bring them back.
  • An order for police enforcement, so the police can help you make your partner follow the order.

A family court may consider your partner’s abusive behavior if it affects their ability to be a good parent to your child. This includes whether a parent has been violent or abusive to the child, their partner, a parent of the child, or anyone else living in the home. This does not include anything done in self-defence or to protect another person.

You May Also Need

Luke's Place (This resource is written for women in abusive relationships but might help anyone in an abusive relationship.)
Ministry of the Attorney General
Reviewed: March 1, 2021

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