You know your ex-spouse or partner well. Before they take off with your kids on their next visit, here are four things you can do to manage your worst fears:
- Have visits or exchanges supervised.
- Get a restraining order.
- Get a peace bond.
- Arrest an abductor.
Arrange Supervised Access or Visits
The thought your children might be abducted strikes fear in every parent’s heart. When having a trusted relative oversee visits is not enough, Ontario supervised access centres give you a safe place to leave your children on access days. You pay a small fee or if you can’t afford it, nothing at all. Your children’s visit is monitored by staff or volunteers and police are called if problems arise. A police escort to your car can even be arranged. You can also request supervised exchanges, so you don’t have to be alone when your children are picked up and dropped off.
Protecting Yourself with a Restraining Order
If you have separated from a partner or spouse and they are molesting, annoying, harassing or communicating with you or your children against your will, ask Ontario family court or police for a restraining order. Orders can limit the offending contact, forbid your ex from showing up at your work, home or kids’ schools and force them to turn over weapons to police.
Getting a Restraining Order in Ontario
Emergency court hearings can be arranged if violence is possible or some police can issue restraining orders. Bring any evidence you have and once you have an order, keep a copy yourself and give one to police. Breaches can result in fines, jail or both.
Getting a Peace Bond in Ontario
When your ex makes threatening comments, a “no contact order” peace bond or “810 recognizance” (for section 810 of the Criminal Code) can make sense. Peace bonds are signed agreements to keep the peace, be of good behaviour and obey any other conditions a court orders. The bond is good for a year and valid in every Canadian province or territory. Having a peace bond does not give your partner a criminal record, but breaches are a criminal offence resulting in jail, fines or both.
When Peace Bonds are Used
- Police decide against recommending criminal charges due to lack of evidence.
- A Crown prosecutor agrees to withdraw criminal charges in exchange for a peace bond.
- A family member has reasonable grounds to fear they or their family will be hurt or property damaged.
- A third party applies for a parent, grandparent, sibling, co-worker or friend.
Applying for a Peace Bond in Ontario Courts
Peace bonds are obtained through the Ontario Court of Justice. An Axess Law family lawyer can help you organize your evidence. You’ll need detailed notes with dates, times, emails, texts, voice mails, photos, witnesses, hospital or medical records.
Do Restraining Orders and Peace Bonds Work?
Sometimes a restraining order or peace bond inflames a conflict. A Harvard Medical School researcher found feeling shamed, humiliated, disrespected or ridiculed was behind most violent assaults. Before you apply, ask yourself if losing face in front of others would cause your partner to over react.
Call Police About Parental Abduction
Abducting a child is a serious criminal offence. If you have custody and your ex-spouse or partner refuses to return your children, call your local police or RCMP. Provide the parental custody order and as much detail as you can about your ex’s plans for their last visit. Depending on what their investigation turns up, police may recommend a parental abduction charge.
Charge an Ex-spouse Who Abducts Your Kids
Parental abduction is a Canada Criminal Code offence: “Abduction in contravention of a Canadian custody order”. Your ex-spouse or partner may be charged if they had a right to care for your children, but contravened a Canadian custody order by taking, enticing, concealing, detaining, receiving or harbouring them without your consent.
Proving Parental Abduction was Planned, Not Accidental
To succeed on a parental abduction charge, your lawyer must prove intent.
- Did your ex-spouse or partner intend to deprive you of lawful care or charge of your children, contrary to a court order?
- Did they know about the custody order and its terms?
No-win Custody Orders
You won’t win your case if the abductor didn’t know you had custody or understand the custody order. Ontario Crown prosecutors won’t take your case if the custody order or police evidence are unclear about what the breach was. Two valid but competing court orders from different courts can also be a no-win legal situation. Ask an Axess Law family lawyer if you think your custody order is too vague.
International Child Abductions and the Hague Convention
An ex who crosses international borders violates the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. You can apply to your children returned to Canada provided:
- it is in breach of rights of custody attributed to a person, an institution or any other body, either jointly or alone, under the law of the State in which the child was habitually resident immediately before the removal or retention; and
- At the time of removal or retention, those rights were actually exercised, either jointly or alone, or would have been so exercised but for the removal or retention.
Urgent Legal Advice Anywhere in Ontario
Axess Law family lawyers are available by video call anywhere in Ontario, 7 days a week, day or evening. Call toll free to 1-877-552-9377 or 647-479-0118 in Toronto or use our online booking form to make an appointment. You can meet in person with a family lawyer in Toronto, Scarborough, Mississauga, North York, Vaughan, Etobicoke or Ottawa.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s family law services.