Posted by Graeme Maitland — filed in Family Law
Domestic violence remains a major problem in Alberta today. Recognizing the need to protect victims of family violence from the outset, the Alberta government developed a special type of restraining order called and Emergency Protection Order or EPO.
An EPO is a special and serious court order that is designed to protect a person who has been the victim of violence and is afraid for their personal safety. It is only available against family members, defined as being related by blood, marriage, adoption, adult interdependent relationship, or if two individuals have a child together. It can be filed at any time by a police officer or by the individual seeking the order in person at the Provincial Court without notifying the other party (an ex-parte order). EPOs exist to provide immediate protection to an individual from future abuse towards the individual or another family member, threats of abuse, damage to or threats to damage that persons property, or stalking.
Because of their draconian nature, EPOs must be reviewed by a Queen’s Bench Justice within nine working days and both parties are allowed to present evidence as to why the order should continue or be removed. This mandatory review is important as it balances the specific and immediate needs of individuals who require that instant protection with the fact that an order of this nature and with this power cannot be wielded blindly.
Unfortunately, several cases do exist of parties using EPOs as a tool to punish others and not protect themselves or their families. This is expressly forbidden by the legislation and the Court has the power to punish frivolous or vexatious claims by one party against another, including barring them from getting an EPO without the other parties knowledge. This can result in severe problems in future legal matters between the parties.
An EPO is something that should only be used in emergency situations. There is a reason that they can be granted based on the immediate request of a police officer responding to a 911 call. And, just like lying about someone to the police has serious consequences, so does getting an EPO under false pretenses.
If you require guidance on getting an EPO, or are the subject of an EPO and wish to know more about how to proceed, contact the family law lawyers at Aarbo Fuldauer LLP in Calgary.
Address: 3rd Floor, 1131 Kensington Road NW, Calgary, AB, T2N 3P4
Phone: (403) 571-5120