(N.B. I've never studied the Canadian legal system, I'm not Canadian, I don't live in Canada, and I've never been to Canada. But I like cheese curds.)

In a nutshell: what I want to know

(Hypothetically) A mother is abusing her adult child, but they do not live together. Does the Family Law Act, or any other law, enable the victim to seek and receive injunctive relief, such as a Protection Order?

Laws that might apply

Family Law Act, S.B.C. 2011, c. 25 (FLA).

Hypothetical facts


Aaron is an adult natural-born Canadian citizen residing in British Columbia. Aaron lives alone in his domicile. Rita is Aaron's mother, and she is an adult natural-born Canadian citizen residing in British Columbia. All legally-relevant actions occurred within British Columbia.


The government is not prosecuting criminal charges against either party. Assume each has fully vested rights, privileges, powers, and immunities: for example, neither of them has been found incompetent or been placed under guardianship. Assume the default legal-relationship between them: the rights, privileges, powers, and immunities automatically granted by the law due to their familial status have not been mitigated.

Actions by the parties

If a court were to fairly and thoroughly examine evidence presented by Aaron and Rita, the court would likely find that one or more of Rita's actions were psychological and/or emotional abuse of Aaron. The court would likely find that Rita's actions included one or more of the following: harassment of Aaron, coercion of Aaron, unreasonable restrictions on and/or prevention of Aaron's financial autonomy, and restrictions on and/or prevention of Aaron's personal autonomy.

What (civil) relief is available in British Columbia?

I'm unsure about the scope of application of the FLA. Specifically, I am unsure if a court can issue a Protection Order against a respondent if the two family members do not live together.

Procedures such as seeking a Protection Order under the FLA in provincial court are intentionally designed to make it easier for laypeople to seek and receive relief. Whether or not Aaron may seek relief under the FLA, what other layperson-friendly laws might provide relief?

Thank you for your time.

2 Answers 2


Under the act, "child" means a person who is under 19 years of age (ignoring a complication about child support). The law covers households, not genetic relations, so the fact that Rita is Aaron's mother doesn't make the FLA applicable. This page explains protective orders in the context of this law. First, such orders are against "family violence" which includes sexual abuse and

psychological or emotional abuse of a family member, including

(i) intimidation, harassment, coercion or threats, including threats respecting other persons, pets or property,

(ii) unreasonable restrictions on, or prevention of, a family member's financial or personal autonomy,

(iii) stalking or following of the family member, and

(iv) intentional damage to property

A "family member" is

(a) the person's spouse or former spouse,

(b) a person with whom the person is living, or has lived, in a marriage-like relationship,

(c) a parent or guardian of the person's child,

(d) a person who lives with, and is related to,

(i) the person, or

(ii) a person referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (c), or

(e) the person's child,

Remember that being a genetic offspring doesn't make you a person's "child" under this law. Under the meaning of this act, Aaron is not a "family member".

There does not appear to be any anti-nagging statute in BC whereby Aaron can get an order requiring Rita to leave him alone. If she does threaten to kill or spank him, that could change things.


what other layperson-friendly laws might provide relief?

Aaron may petition for a recognizance or peace bond pursuant to section 264(2)(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada. See also section 810.

Rita's disruptions or impediments of Aaron's autonomy seem actionable. However, identifying the legal theories under which Aaron may viably proceed against Rita requires knowledge of the nature and effects of Rita's conduct. The types of tort or statutory violations would also determine the relief to which Aaron would be entitled.

  • 1
    Her actions are annoying but not reasonably interpreted as violent. How is a peace bond relevant?
    – user6726
    Nov 5, 2020 at 20:17
  • 1
    The government has not charged Rita with a crime or convicted Rita of a crime. Rita has not caused Aaron to "fear for [his] safety," so her actions are not criminal harassment under section 264(2)(b). It's my understanding that a criminal court may issue a peace bond only if there are related criminal proceedings. Nov 5, 2020 at 20:19
  • @user6726 Violence is not a necessary element. Section 264(2)(b) reads "repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them". Nov 5, 2020 at 21:03
  • @hunterhogan Rita's harm to Aaron's personal autonomy seems tantamount to hindering his safety. Also, there is no requirement that Rita be previously charged with a crime. Section 264(4) provides that Rita's criminal history shall be considered an aggravating factor. Aggravating is different from prerequisite. Nov 5, 2020 at 21:11
  • But per the OP's scenario, Rita has not caused Aaron to reasonably fear for his safety or the safety of anyone known to him (from the statute).
    – user6726
    Nov 5, 2020 at 21:16

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