Laws in Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, there are a number of laws, responsibilities and rights that may be new to you.


You are protected by Canadian law. When your rights are violated, you should speak to a lawyer. You have the basic right to:

  • Life, personal freedom and safety
  • Have your own opinions
  • Hold peaceful meetings
  • Live and work anywhere in Canada
  • Be protected from unfair treatment by police
  • Be considered innocent until proven guilty


  • You must have a driver’s licence to drive a vehicle
  • You must carry your driver’s licence, registration and proof of vehicle insurance while you are driving
  • You cannot drink alcohol or take drugs before driving
  • Everyone in the car must wear a seatbelt
  • Babies and young children must be in car seats
  • Children under 12 cannot be left alone
  • All children from seven to 16 must go to school
  • It is illegal to abuse family members

Legal Services

If you need legal services in Nova Scotia, there are many options available to you. This includes paid lawyers, and if you can’t afford it, you may be eligible for assistance through Legal Aid.

Separation and Divorce

Everyone has the right to feel safe, happy and respected in their marriage. If they don’t, separation or divorce could happen. Separation is when one or both partners decide to live away from one another, but remain legally married. Divorce is the legal ending of a marriage. In Canada, it is common to see separated or divorced women with or without children. As long as you have lived in Canada for one year, you can get a divorce in Nova Scotia, regardless of where you got married. Getting a divorce during your immigration process could have an impact. You should seek legal advice if you are considering divorce.

Spousal and Child Support

If you are separated or divorced and need financial support, your ex-husband may be required to give you money for your living expenses. This is called ‘spousal support.’ If the children live with you, your ex-husband should give you extra money for the children’s needs, until they become adults. This is ‘child support.’


Police in Canada are expected to treat everyone fairly, with respect and good will, regardless of age, race or class. Police are expected to make sure people obey laws, and protect people and their property. Police do not accept bribes or use their authority for personal gain. You can ask the police for help in many situations. Nova Scotia has different police forces. Some places such as Halifax have their own police, the Halifax regional Police. Nova Scotia also has the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Domestic Abuse

Immigrant women in violent or abusive situations may feel they have nowhere to turn for help. They may feel they will bring shame to their family if they report abuse and they often hide abusive situations for fear of deportation or threat to their immigration process. A woman will not be deported if she reports abuse, neither will her children, or spouse. There are group homes for women who need shelter from abusive relationships located in many areas of Nova Scotia. Most are in an unknown location, so that abusive partners cannot find them. If you think you are in an abusive relationship, you have options:

  • Talk to a friend or counselor
  • Go to a women’s group home
  • Call the police at 911
  • Stay with friends or family
  • Apply for a court order
  • Contact Legal Aid Nova Scotia
  • Apply for Employment and Income Assistance

Additional resources:

Child Custody

If you and your partner choose to separate or divorce, you will need to make important decisions for your children. You need to talk to your children about their concerns. You and your partner will need to discuss ‘child custody.’ This refers to the rights and duties of parents to their children to provide for their care and well-being. It also means deciding where your children will live, with whom and for how long. Canada’s legal system encourages couples to reach a custody agreement together. If you cannot, you can ask the court to decide.