#1 – Prevent an Abusive Partner from Contacting the Children
If you or your children are at risk of family violence, you can ask the court to issue a protection order against your former spouse. This order might ban your ex from having any contact with you and the children and from visiting them at their schools and other places where they spend time.
#2 – Prevent a Third Party from Contacting the Children
Your former partner may have a new partner or a relative living with them who you believe is a risk to your children. If this is the case, you can apply for a protection order banning that individual from having any contact with the children.
#3 – Sole Guardianship/Custody
Courts are generally reluctant to award sole guardianship/custody to a parent, as they take the view that children benefit from having both parents in their lives. However, there are some circumstances where it may be appropriate for the court to order sole guardianship/custody because it would be in the best interests of the children.
#4 – Exclusive Possession of the Family Home
Getting an order from the court for exclusive possession of the family home can help ensure that you and your children have a safe and stable place to stay during the separation or divorce proceedings. These orders are usually given on an interim (or temporary basis) until property division issues can be settled either by way of agreement between you and your spouse or by court judgment.
#5 – Drug and Alcohol Abuse
If you’re concerned that your ex has an alcohol or drug abuse issue that may harm the children, you can apply to the courts to have your ex monitored or required to submit to alcohol and drug testing. The courts may attach certain conditions to their rights to spend time with the children if they continue to use alcohol and drugs.
#6 – Guns and Weapons
If there are guns or other weapons in your ex’s house and you are concerned about the safety of the children when they are visiting the home, you can ask the police to remove those weapons.
#7 – Supervised Visits
If you would like your children to continue to see their other parent but are concerned that he or she is not ready for time alone with the children, you can ask the court to order supervised visits. The court might order that a relative, family friend, or volunteer from the Supervised Access Program supervise the visits.
#8– No Removal from Jurisdiction
If you’re concerned that your ex might try to take the children out of the jurisdiction without your permission, you can get a court order preventing them from doing so. Be sure to keep all of your children’s travel documents somewhere safe out of your ex’s control and if you are really concerned by this issue, consider asking the courts for supervised visits with your ex.
#9 – Ask for Court Orders on a Without Notice Basis
In some cases you might not want to alert your ex that you are seeking a court order against them, especially when you are fearful of how they may react to this notice. While in most cases, where an individual has a direct interest in a court proceeding they are entitled to notice ahead of the hearing, in family cases there are processes in place which allow you to bring an application against them without providing them notice.
#10 – Counselling for the Children
The effects of divorce, especially where there is domestic violence involved can have long lasting effects on a child’s growth and development. There are psychologists and counsellors who specialize in providing help to children during these troubling times. You may want to consider whether your child would benefit from this help. Click here for some more information on the topic and a roster of child counsellors who may be able to help.
Remember if you or your children are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are concerned that your partner, or someone in your ex’s life might be a danger to the children, contact the Ministry for Child and Family Development for assistance. We hope this article “10 Divorce Tips to Protect Your Children” helps answer your questions about how to protect your children during a divorce. Should you have any questions or require legal assistance with seeking any of the remedies described above, please contact us at 604-449-7779.