A Special Kind of Restraining Order: Emergency Protection Orders (EPO)

An Emergency Protection Order (“EPO”) can be granted by a Alberta Provincial Court Judge or a Justice of the Peace on short notice.  EPO Orders are put in place to deal with incidents of family violence. Family violence includes the following:

  • Any intention or reckless act or omission that causes injury or property damage and that intimidates or harms a family member;
  • Any act or threatened act that intimidates a family member by creating a reasonable fear of property damage or injury to a family member;
  • Forced confinement;
  • Sexual abuse; and 
  • Stalking. 

An application for an EPO can be brought without notice to the other party.  Before granting an EPO the Judge will decide if the following conditions have been met:

  1. That family violence has occurred;
  2. That the person applying for an EPO has reason to believe that family violence may continue;
  3. That the matter is serious or urgent and the person applying for the EPO requires immediate protection. 

In most cases the terms of the EPO will stipulate that the person causing family violence should not contact the person who applied for the EPO (either directly or indirectly), nor attend at their residence or place of work.  

As EPOs are granted without notice, the matter will then be forwarded on to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a review.  This usually occurs within a couple weeks of the EPO being granted.  When an EPO is reviewed at the Court of Queen’s Bench the Court will determine if the EPO should stay in place, if the EPO should be dismissed, or if the matter should proceed to a hearing with oral evidence for a decision to be made.  In many cases at this stage the parties agree to Mutual No Contact Order, which stipulates that both parties not contact one another or in some cases not attend places where the other party usually goes.  In most cases, if the parties do not agree to set aside the EPO or to a Mutual No Contact Order, the matter will be set to a hearing. 

If you believe you may need an EPO, or if an EPO has been issued against you, the family lawyers at Crossroads Law have experience with obtaining EPOs and having them thrown out.  It is important to understand the ramifications of obtaining an EPO, especially if there are children involved.  To know if you should obtain an EPO or for assistance in dealing with an EPO that has been granted, please contact the family lawyers at Crossroads Law. 

By Amanda Marsden