Canadian Journal of Family Law


Jennifer Koshan

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Civil protection order legislation is a distinctive response to domestic violence with its focus on immediate safety and access to justice. Although the legislation was motivated by the need to broaden protective remedies for domestic violence and make them more accessible, similar remedies continue to exist and be utilized in the family law arena—for example, exclusive possession orders for the family home and restraining orders related to family disputes. Some jurisdictions also allow civil protection orders to contain conditions relevant to family law disputes, such as interim parenting orders. Intersections, overlaps and potential conflicts also exist between civil protection order law, criminal law, and child protection law.

This article examines Alberta as a case study for exploring the intersections of civil protection orders, family law, and other legal areas and systems. It explores several research questions, including: How are family law disputes affected by the presence of civil protection order proceedings, and vice versa? What are the interactions between the criminal, child protection, and civil protection order systems? What are the access to justice concerns that arise at these intersections and under the civil protection order system more broadly? These questions are answered using several methodologies: a comparative analysis of civil protection order legislation, a case law review, interviews with Alberta-based lawyers and service providers, and observations of civil protection order hearings. The article examines the benefits, barriers, and pitfalls of civil protection orders and concludes with recommendations for further research and reform of the legislation and its application in practice.