What's the difference between peace bonds and family law protection orders?

Important: If you're in danger and need help right away
If you're afraid and think you, your children, and/or others are in immediate danger from another person, call the police right away by dialling 911. If your community doesn't have 911 service, look for the local police emergency phone number on the first page of your phone book.

If someone in your family has threatened you or been violent towards you in the past, or you fear for your or your children's safety, you have options:

  • ask the police or RCMP to help you get a peace bond, or
  • apply to court for a family law protection order.

Always talk to a victim service worker in your community to get additional support. Call VictimLink BC:

1-800-563-0808 (no charge), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

OR

see the VictimLink website


What are peace bonds and family law protection orders?

Peace bonds and family law protection orders are both "protection orders."

A protection order is an order made by a judge in court that is meant to protect one person from another. All protection orders list conditions set by a judge for one person to follow. Usually they tell that person to have no contact (or limited) contact with the person being protected.

Which one should I choose?

After you've taken care of any urgent safety concerns, you can choose whether a peace bond and/or a family law protection order will best protect you. There are several important differences. Use the chart below to help you decide.

You may get both a peace bond and a family law protection order at the same time but this is usually unnecessary.

In the chart below, the word "partner" means the person you:

  • are or were married to,
  • live or lived with in a marriage-like relationship for any length of time, or
  • have a child with.

Comparing peace bonds and family law protection orders

A protection order made under the Criminal Code of Canada in criminal court A protection order made under the BC Family Law Act in family court
Can protect you from anyone, including someone you have only dated, such as a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend

Can protect you from a "family member," which includes:

  • your partner
  • your child's parent or guardian
  • a relative of any of the people above who lives with them
  • a relative of yours who lives with you

Protects:

  • you,
  • your children,
  • your current partner, and/or
  • your property.

Protects:

  • you, your children, and other family members who live with you, and
  • any other children living in your home, the home of your partner, or the home of your child's parent or guardian.

Protects you when you fear for:

  • your safety,
  • the safety of your children, and/or
  • the safety of your current partner.

This means that you're afraid that the person could hurt any of you.

Protects you from what the law calls "family violence" by a family member, which includes:

  • physical abuse (or attempts), including being locked up, or denied food or other basic needs,
  • emotional or mental abuse, such as being intimidated, harassed, stalked, threatened, or having your property damaged,
  • sexual abuse (or attempts), and
  • children being exposed to family violence.
  • No lawyer needed to apply
  • Call the police or RCMP to ask for one or apply for one yourself
  • If an application goes ahead, Crown counsel will be involved (A Crown counsel lawyer is not your lawyer. They represent the whole community.)
  • Apply to court with or without a lawyer (a lawyer is recommended)
  • May cost you lawyer fees, unless you qualify for a lawyer paid by legal aid
  • No fee to apply
  • No fee to apply for an order in Provincial Court
  • Must pay a fee to apply in Supreme Court (if you'd find it difficult to pay, can apply to have the fee waived)
  • Your partner will either be arrested or given a summons (notice) to appear in court. You may or may not have to go to a court hearing (in criminal court) after that.
  • Can ask to have your application handled quickly if you feel it isn't safe to wait. Your partner doesn't have to know you're applying if this would increase the risk to your safety (called making an "order without notice"). OR
  • You and your partner will go to a court hearing in family court.
  • Lasts up to one year
  • Under some circumstances, you can ask for another one
  • Lasts until the end date the judge put on the order
  • If no end date, it lasts one year
  • Under some circumstances, you can ask for another one
  • Can be enforced by police and RCMP anywhere in BC and in the rest of Canada. If the person named in the order disobeys it, they can be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.
  • Can be enforced by police and RCMP anywhere in BC. If the person named in the order disobeys it, they can be arrested and charged with a criminal offence.

However, if you move out of BC:

  • may be able to register your existing order with the courts in your new location, or
  • may have to apply for another order in your new location.

For more information, see the online fact sheets What is abuse? and Family law protection orders, the booklet For Your Protection: Peace Bonds and Family Law Protection Orders, and the Live Safe, End Abuse fact sheets. See also the self-help guide How to apply for a family law protection order.

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