Emergency Protection Orders: A Comprehensive Guide
An Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is a legal tool designed to provide immediate protection to individuals who are experiencing family violence. This guide will outline the process and requirements for obtaining an EPO, as well as discuss the implications and consequences of having an EPO in place.
1. What is an Emergency Protection Order?
An EPO is a court order that provides temporary protection for those in immediate danger due to family violence. It can impose various restrictions on the person committing the violence, such as prohibiting them from contacting the protected person or visiting their home or workplace.
2. Who Can Apply for an Emergency Protection Order?
Any person who has experienced family violence or is at risk of family violence can apply for an EPO. Family violence can include physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, as well as threats or intimidation. It is important to note that an EPO can only be obtained against a family member or someone with whom you have an intimate relationship.
3. How to Apply for an Emergency Protection Order
3.1. Contact the police
If you are in immediate danger, call the police. They can help you assess your situation and may assist you in applying for an EPO.
3.2. Attend a hearing
To apply for an EPO, you must attend a hearing before a Justice in the Alberta Court of Justice or a Justice of the Peace. You will need to provide evidence of the family violence and explain why you believe you are in immediate danger. The hearing may take place in person, by telephone, or by videoconference. In some cases a police officer will apply for an EPO on your behalf.
3.3. Obtain the order
If the Justice or Justice of the Peace is satisfied that you are in immediate danger and need protection, they may grant the EPO. The order will be served on the person committing the violence by a police officer or court official.
4. Terms and Conditions of an Emergency Protection Order
The terms and conditions of an EPO may vary depending on the specifics of your situation. Some common conditions include:
- Prohibiting the respondent from contacting you, your children, or any other person listed in the order
- Requiring the respondent to stay away from your home, workplace, or children's school
- Prohibiting the respondent from possessing weapons
- Granting temporary possession of the family home to the protected person
5. Duration and Review of an Emergency Protection Order
After the EPO is granted in the Alberta Court of Justice, it is scheduled for a review in the Court of King’s Bench within a specified time frame. In some cases a hearing will be scheduled, and both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and make arguments. The Court of King’s Bench will determine how long the EPO will remain in place, or if it will be set aside, or modified.
6. Consequences of Violating an Emergency Protection Order
Violating the terms of an EPO can result in serious consequences, including arrest, criminal charges, and fines. If you believe the respondent has violated the order, contact the police immediately.
7. Setting Aside or Vacating an Emergency Protection Order
7.1. Grounds for setting aside or vacating an EPO
A respondent may seek to set aside or vacate an EPO if they believe that the order was granted in error or that the circumstances have significantly changed since the EPO was issued. Some common grounds for setting aside or vacating an EPO include:
- Insufficient evidence of family violence or immediate danger
- Material changes in circumstances that warrant the removal or modification of the order
- Evidence that the protected person consented to contact with the respondent
7.2. Procedure for setting aside or vacating an EPO
If the respondent wishes to set aside or vacate the EPO, they must attend at the review at the Court of King’s Bench. The judge will consider the evidence and arguments before deciding whether to set aside, modify, or maintain the EPO. The Court may schedule a hearing to better assess the evidence before making a decision.
8. Implications of Setting Aside or Vacating an EPO in Family Law Proceedings
8.1. Impact on child custody and access
If an EPO is set aside or vacated, it may affect child custody and access arrangements in family law proceedings. The court may reconsider the parenting arrangements based on the new information and circumstances.
8.2. Reputational consequences
Having an EPO set aside or vacated can also have reputational consequences for both parties. The respondent may face lingering concerns about their behavior, while the protected person may face questions about their credibility. It is crucial for both parties to be transparent and honest throughout the process to minimize any potential negative consequences.
9. Support and Resources for Victims of Family Violence
If you are experiencing family violence, there are numerous resources available in Alberta to help you, including crisis hotlines, counseling services, and support groups. Below is a list of some organizations and resources in Calgary and throughout Alberta that specialize in assisting victims of family violence:
- Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS)Website: https://acws.ca/Phone: 1-866-331-3933ACWS supports a network of shelters throughout Alberta and provides resources, advocacy, and training to address and prevent family violence.
- Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter (CWES)Website: https://www.calgarywomensshelter.com/24-Hour Family Violence Helpline: 403-234-7233 (SAFE)CWES offers a range of services for individuals affected by family violence, including a 24-hour helpline, emergency shelter, counseling, and outreach programs.
- HomeFront CalgaryWebsite: https://homefrontcalgary.com/Phone: 403-206-2100HomeFront Calgary works in partnership with the justice system, police, and community agencies to provide support and assistance to families affected by domestic violence.
- YWCA CalgaryWebsite: https://www.ywcalgary.ca/Phone: 403-266-0707YWCA Calgary offers various programs and services, including counseling, legal support, and housing options for women and children impacted by family violence.
- Today Family Violence Help Centre (Edmonton)Website: https://www.todaycentre.ca/Phone: 780-455-6880The Today Family Violence Help Centre provides immediate intervention and support services, including safety planning, referrals, and legal assistance to individuals affected by family violence in the Edmonton area.
- Family Violence Info LinePhone: 310-1818 (toll-free in Alberta)This 24-hour helpline provides crisis intervention, information, and referrals to resources and services for those affected by family violence in Alberta.
Remember, if you are in immediate danger, call 911 for emergency assistance. Reaching out to local organizations and utilizing the resources available can provide you with the support and help you need during difficult times.