Vancouver Family Lawyers Providing Compassionate Advice on Family Violence Issues

Family violence causes substantial trauma to parents and children. Decisive legal action is required where the risk of violence or other unacceptable conduct threatens the safety of a family member or creates unnecessary delay and hardship in family court proceedings.

Meridian Law Group is comprised of exceptional litigators and helps clients pursue any court orders necessary to protect their family’s safety. The firm’s attentive family law team provides clients with peace of mind by being consistently accessible and responsive to their needs.

What is Family Violence?

The Family Law Act of British Columbia defines “family violence” as including:

  • Physical abuse of a family member, including forced confinement or deprivation of the necessities of life (but does not include the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or others from harm);
  • Sexual abuse of a family member;
  • Attempts to physically or sexually abuse a family member;
  • Psychological or emotional abuse of a family member, including:
    • Intimidation, harassment, coercion or threats, including threats toward another person, pets, or property
    • Unreasonable restrictions on, or prevention of, a family member’s financial or personal autonomy
    • Stalking or following a family member
    • Intentional damage of property
  • In the case of a child, the direct or indirect exposure to family violence.

The violent family member does not need to have intended to cause harm to be found to have committed family violence under the Family Law Act.

Definition of “Family Member”

“Family members”, for the purposes of the Family Law Act (including the sections relating to family violence), include:

  • A spouse or former spouse;
  • Partners who live or have lived in a marriage-like relationship;
  • The parent or guardian of a child;
  • A person who lives with and is related to another person; or
  • A person’s child.

Protection Orders

Protection orders are governed by British Columbia’s Family Law Act and prevent or limit contact between a violent individual and their children or other family members. A protection order can be made on application by an “at-risk family member” (i.e. a person whose safety or security is at risk from a violent family member) or on the court’s own initiative.

Once granted, a protection order lasts for one year but may be extended on application to the court.

Risk Factors for Granting a Protection Order

The Family Law Act sets out the following risk factors that the court must consider when determining whether to grant a protection order:

  • Any history of family violence;
  • Whether the family violence is repetitive or escalating;
  • Whether there has been psychological or emotional abuse constituting a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour;
  • The parties’ relationship status;
  • Any history of substance abuse, employment or financial problems, mental health problems linked to violence, access to weapons, or history of violence on the part of the alleged violent family member;
  • The at-risk family member’s perception of risks to their own safety and security;
  • Any heightened vulnerability on the part of the at-risk family member, including pregnancy, age, family circumstances, health, or economic dependence; and
  • Whether a child is at risk of being exposed to family violence if a protection order is not granted.

Terms of a Protection Order

Where the court determines that family violence is likely to occur toward the at-risk family member, it may incorporate a variety of provisions within the protection order, including:

  • A provision restraining the violent family member from:
    • Directly or indirectly communicating with or contacting the at-risk family member or another specified person;
    • Attending at, entering, or being near a place regularly attended by the at-risk family member (e.g. their residence, school, business, or workplace);
    • Following the at-risk family member;
    • Possessing a weapon, firearm, or other specified object; or
    • Possessing a licence, registration certificate, authorization, or other document relating to a weapon or firearm;
  • A provision limiting the violent family member in question from communicating with or contacting the at-risk family member. The court may also set out specific limits on the manner or means of communication or contact;
  • A provision directing a police officer to:
    • Remove the violent family member from the residence;
    • Accompany the violent family member, at-risk family member, or other specified person to the residence to supervise the removal of personal belongings; or
    • Seize a weapon, firearm, or other specified object from the violent family member;
  • A provision requiring the violent family member to report to the court; or
  • Any other terms or conditions the court considers necessary to protect the safety and security of the at-risk family member or enforce the other terms of the protection order.

Conduct Orders

Conduct orders address other problematic behaviours that may complicate or delay family law matters or abuse the court process (for example, filing numerous vexatious or baseless court motions). Under the Family Law Act, a conduct order can include any terms the court considers appropriate to reduce conflict and facilitate the resolution of disputes as efficiently as possible, including:

  • An order setting limits on the parties’ communications with each other;
  • An order requiring parties to participate in counselling; or
  • An order forcing spouses to fulfill their financial obligations relating to the family home or other property.

Conduct orders are useful in situations where the high level of conflict between the parties affects the court process but does not include a risk of family violence.

Contact Meridian Law Group in Vancouver for Trusted Advice on Family Violence Issues

The compassionate family lawyers at Meridian Law Group have extensive knowledge of family violence issues. The firm takes swift, decisive action to pursue any court orders required to ensure the safety of a client and their family. Clients can rest assured that the team at Meridian Law Group is a commanding presence in the courtroom will fight vigorously on behalf of their families.

The Meridian Law Group team has a reputation for legal excellence and consistently exceeding client expectations. The firm is prominently located in the Nelson Square Building in downtown Vancouver and represents clients throughout British Columbia, including West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Penticton, Kelowna, Richmond, New Westminster, Burnaby, Surrey, Langley, and White Rock. Meridian Law Group also advises clients across Canada and internationally. Please call (604) 687-2277 or reach out online to schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced family lawyer.