Families sometimes become involved with different courts at the same time.
For example, one parent may have been charged with a crime when the family separated. An undertaking (“no contact order”) is in place to limit contact with a spouse and/or child. Child protection has opened a file due to concerns about family violence. They have a memorandum of understanding in place with the parents. Now, one parent makes an application for decision-making responsibility and parenting time at the family court. Without information about the criminal court case and child protection’s involvement, the judge hearing the case may make an order that provides for different rights or responsibilities currently required by the other court and/or child protection. The court order might conflict. This can make it challenging or impossible for a parent to follow both orders, and can create safety risks.
The court has a duty to understand the circumstances of the parties when there are other court proceedings or court orders. The goal is to improve coordination with proceedings happening in other courts.
What kinds of orders, agreements or measures are included?
1. Civil protection:
For example, orders that limit or prohibit contact between people, children, and property. This includes:
Emergency Protection Orders (EPOs) - short term orders made under the Domestic Violence Intervention Act (Nova Scotia).
Protection of Property Act Orders - orders that prevent a person from entering another person’s property.
Cyber-protection Order - an order under the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act to stop online bullying or sharing of intimate images.
2. Child protection:
If child protection is involved, (either informally – by working with the family; or formally – there is a court proceeding).
See child protection section here for more information.
Pending or existing criminal proceedings or orders, undertakings or recognizance; sentencing orders, including probation orders. This includes Peace Bonds.
What steps will the court take to learn more about orders, agreements or measures?
To fulfill this duty, the court may ask the parties, or refer to information that has been obtained in accordance with a search provided for under provincial law.
For parents or other important caregivers, if you are asking for a court order that concerns a child or support, tell the court about any civil, criminal or child protection cases, orders, agreements or measures that involve any party and/or the child(ren). Do this as early as possible in the family court process.