Domestic violence can have many legal implications for victims. For example, a victim may want to file a police complaint, separate from their spouse, or obtain custody of the children. This web guide explains the legal steps victims can take to stop domestic violence. It also provides resources for victims to get help.
Recognizing Domestic Violence
Asking For Help and Support
Victims of domestic violence are entitled to help and support. They aren’t required to file a police complaint in order to receive this assistance.
Staying or moving out of the family home
A victim of domestic violence who has custody of the children may be able to have the other parent excluded from the family home if it’s in the best interest of the children.
A victim of domestic violence can cancel their lease if their safety or the safety of a child is at risk.
When spouses separate, the law determines who can stay in the home and who must leave. Different rules apply depending on whether the spouses were married.
Filing a police complaint and understanding the criminal legal process
The victim can file a police complaint. This can lead to a criminal trial.
A victim who fears for their safety can also ask a judge to order a peace bond (a “810”), which is a promise not to disturb the peace. A victim can request this even if no crime has been committed.
Victims of domestic violence may be entitled to financial support during and after the separation.
The separation process for common-law spouses is different from that of married couples. Common-law spouses don’t need a court judgment to make their separation official. However, they can go to court if they don’t agree on certain issues, such as child custody or how the couple’s property should be divided.
Married couples need a court judgment to make their separation official.
Former spouses who have children and want to go to court to settle any issues resulting from their separation must first attend an information session on parenting and mediation. However, victims of domestic violence can be excused from attending this session.
Protecting the Children
Parents who don’t agree on child custody arrangements must go to court to settle the matter. The judge won’t automatically grant custody to the victim of domestic violence. The decision must be made based on the best interests of the child.
Role of the DYP
The Director of Youth Protection (DYP) doesn’t automatically become involved in domestic violence cases. Even in cases where the DYP does intervene, a parent won’t necessarily lose custody of their children.
Role of the Employer
Employers must take measures to protect their employees from the risk of domestic violence in the workplace. Colleagues can also provide their support to victims.
Our online training module: La violence conjugale : rôle et obligations légales des milieux de travail (in French only) is intended for employers, union officials and human resources professionals.