Enhancing civil protection in domestic violence cases: cross Canada checkup

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Concerns about the operation of civil protection order proceedings in intimate-partner/domestic violence (DV) cases have been raised repeatedly in legal-system research in many jurisdictions, including Canada. Yet effective civil protection orders can make the difference between lives harmed and lives saved. In a search for solutions, this paper connects domestic-violence research, research on the operation of legal systems in domestic violence cases, and civil protection processes and options (case law and statutes) across Canada. The goals are to support the work of professionals and to enhance the health and safety of families and children in DV cases. For purposes of this paper, the term ‘civil protection’ excludes discussion of criminal protection orders, such as peace bonds, and orders pursuant to child protection legislation. Nonetheless the term includes discussion of civil protection options pursuant to: 1) federal, provincial and territorial family law legislation, 2) provincial and territorial marital property legislation, and 3) provincial/territorial DV prevention statutes (listed in Chapter 16.1). The report adopts a problem-solving approach. PART ONE identifies principles of practice associated with effective options generated from analysis of sociolegal evaluations of the operation of the legal system in DV cases. PART TWO connects the principles discussed in Part One to particular types of protection proceedings across Canada (DV prevention legislation, restraining order legislation, and protection legislation connected to possession of marital home and personal property). PART THREE identifies gaps in Canadian legislation that, if addressed, could enhance family health and safety.