What about the children?
To assist in protecting the children, if at all possible take them with you when you leave home, this may aid in custody (the right to take care of them) determination later.
Be careful about your own safety if you have to go back for the children. Ask the police to go with you by phoning them in advance to set up a time. The police officer can make sure you're safe, but they can't force your partner to give you the children if you don't have a court order giving you custody (the right to take care of them). If you are leaving your partner you should make arrangements to apply for custody and consider legal advice to assist you with this process.
If your partner refuses to let you take the children or has a court order giving him/her custody, get legal advice right away. If you feel your children are in immediate danger call 911. However, if you are generally concerned about their safety while with your partner, you can call your local Child and Family Services and discuss your concerns with a social worker.
Can my partner go to the school and take the children?
Let the school know what's happening. If you have a custody order, the school won't let your partner pick up the children. However, if there's no custody order in place, the school is powerless and your partner has an equal right to pick up the children. Conversely, if your partner has a custody order, you can't pick the children up from school.
If I leave my home does my partner get to keep it?
Even if you leave the home at first, you may be able to get an order from a judge at a later date giving you the legal right to stay in the home with your children. This is called an "exclusive occupancy order." You need a lawyer to go to the court with you in order to get this.
If I leave, will the police help me get my belongings?
The police will be on-site only to keep the peace -- they have no power over property decisions. For your safety, it's strongly suggested, particularly in a violent relationship, that you only take articles such as clothing, toiletries or children's belongings. In addition, the law says that property considered "dual property" must not be removed or disposed of by either party until ownership can be agreed upon by you and your partner, through mediation, or the court.
What will I do for money?
If you have a place to stay for now, but you don't have enough money, contact Employment and Immigration at 780-644-5135 or toll free 1-866-644-5135 and apply for the "Fleeing from Violence Fund." This is emergency money that will assist you to flee an abusive relationship. If you want help applying for this money, a resource worker at the Today Centre would be happy to assist you.
If you decide to stay separated from your partner and you have no money, you may apply for regular assistance through Employment and Immigration using the above phone numbers.
You can also apply to the court to get financial support from your partner. Contact a lawyer to see if she can help you.
If you already receive money, such as a pension or disability cheque, contact the office that sends you the cheques to tell them you've separated from your partner. Give them your new address and be sure to tell them you've left an abusive relationship so they protect your information.
If you have money in a joint bank account, take your money out right away. If you have credit cards in both your names, contact the credit card company to get them cancelled or to have your name removed from the account. If your pension or disability cheque is automatically deposited into your joint bank account, make other arrangements. If you own a house, car, or other property together, get legal advice as soon as possible.
Where do I get legal help?
You may need to talk to a lawyer right away about children, money, or a home you shared with your partner. If you can't afford a lawyer, contact the Legal Aid Society of Alberta Office 780-427-7575 or visit their website: http://www.legalaid.ab.ca
*Please note - if you're using your home computer to research any of these organizations, keep yourself safe by erasing your search history so no one can review the sites you've been visiting. For instructions on how to do so please refer to "How to Protect Yourself on the Internet"