In case of emergency, call the police at 911 or SOS Domestic Violence at 1-800-363-9010.

To protect a child, contact the DYP for your region and explain that it is an emergency.

Domestic violence can have several legal consequences in the lives of its victims. For example, a victim might 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 put an end to domestic violence. It also recommends resources where victims can get help. 

Recognizing Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not just physical. It covers a broad range of violent behaviours and takes different forms. Many of these behaviours are against the law.

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 these resources.

Remaining in or Moving out of the Family Apartment or House

The law states that both spouses are allowed to remain in the home when a couple separates. However, a victim of domestic violence can refuse to let their spouse stay in the 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 their 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

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 public order. A victim can request a peace bond even if no crime has been committed.

A criminal trial can be a very difficult experience for victims, but the law provides several measures to make things easier.

Separation

The separation process for common-law spouses is different than in the case 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 their property should be separated.

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 the session.

Protecting the Children

Child Custody

Parents who don’t agree on child custody arrangements must go to court. The judge won’t automatically grant custody to the victim of domestic violence. In other words, the decision will be made in the best interest 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, the victim won’t necessarily gain custody of their children.

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