This blog is co-written by our former articling student, Janet Son.
This pandemic has brought the surge of another life or death danger: women and children who are forced to self-isolate with their abusive partners.
According to the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), a network of 70 shelters across Ontario, they have seen an alarming increase in the number of calls from women who are facing domestic violence; and there are many more who are now unable to safely contact help.
The Ontario Superior Court is still hearing urgent family law matters pertaining to the safety of a child or parent such as a obtaining a restraining order, restrictions on contact between parties or exclusive possession of the home.
For lawyers, now is the time to get educated on how to spot the red flags of family violence amongst your client base and take appropriate steps. Luke’s Place provides online CPD accredited training called “Effective Lawyering with Clients Leaving Abusive Relationships” designed for Ontario family lawyers.
For those who are at risk or have experienced violence in the home, their priority should be to get a safety plan. The Assaulted Women’s Helpline Crisis Line can be reached:
Toll-free at 1-866-863-0511
Toll-free TTY: 1-866-863-7868
Text #SAFE (#7233): On Rogers, Fido, Bell, or Telus Mobile
Shelter Safe provides a comprehensive list of resources to connect with a local women’s shelter across the country. Family Court and Beyond provides comprehensive information on leaving an abusive spouse including safety planning tips.
The Superior Court has begun to release COVID-19 family decisions. In Reitzel v. Reitzel, 2020 ONSC 1977, a father’s motion for parenting time with his children was deemed non-urgent. It had been six months since the parties’ separation and he had only exercised limited parenting time, taking the children to sporting events. The mother opposed the motion alleging that the father was verbally and physically abusive towards her and all their children when they were together and that he continues to harass, stalk, and intimidate them.
In the aforementioned case, The Family and Children’s Services of Waterloo Region (“FACS”) interviewed all the children after the separation and provided a letter in support of the mother for the motion, stating that it does not support any unsupervised parenting time with the father.
Though Justice Madsen found the letter by FACS to be preliminary untested evidence, it will be considered along with further evidence for a future motion to determine parenting arrangements. Victims of domestic violence should shore up as much evidence as possible to demonstrate the danger they are experiencing. Involvement of Children’s Aid Societies can assist in obtaining this evidence and provide further resources for safety-planning.
If you have more questions about domestic violence in your family law situation, contact Andreina Minicozzi at 289-638-3179 or firstname.lastname@example.org.