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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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What legal issues will I need to deal with?

If you are ending your relationship, here are some common family law issues you may have to decide:

  • how to divide property and debts between you and your partner
  • if one of you needs financial support, called spousal support
  • where your children will live, who will make decisions about them, and how and when they will visit their other parent, called decision-making responsibility and parenting time. These used to be called custody and access
  • financial support for the children, called child support

If you are worried about your safety, you might need to apply for a restraining order or an order for exclusive possession. At some point, you might also want to get a divorce, if you are married to your partner.

Restraining order: a court order that says what your partner cannot do. For example, the order might say where he cannot go, or who he cannot contact.

Exclusive possession: a court order that says one partner can stay in, or return to, the home and the other partner is not allowed on the property. If there are children, the order usually also says that the children are allowed on the property. The order is usually temporary. The court doesn't decide who owns the home or who rented it when deciding which partner can stay in it.

You might also want to involve the police. If this happens, you might become involved with the criminal court system.

If you are new to Canada, you might be in the middle of an immigration or refugee process. This process could be affected if you leave your partner.