on abused women involved in the family court process in Ontario
by Joan Riggs, Catalyst Research and Communications, for Luke’s Place in collaboration with Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes and the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, October 2011
The relationship between women who have experienced violence and the family law system is complex and has been a focus of attention for women’s equity organizations, frontline violence against women (VAW) workers, advocates and the Ontario government for many years.
Women who are forced to find their own way through the maze of family law and family court often find that things seem backwards or upside down or inside out. They search and search for that one elusive bit that they think will make sense of everything else, that everyone else seems to know about, but they seldom find it. (Cross, 2008, p. 4)
Over the last eight years, there have been significant legislative, policy and process changes in family law and in criminal and immigration law that directly impact women who have experienced violence. Increasingly women can find themselves in both family court and criminal court at the same time. They can also find themselves dealing with other institutional impacts once they are part of the family court system (e.g. being investigated by child welfare, being required to do mandatory counseling services, having to access income supports from Ontario Works, etc.).
en français: Les effets des récentes réformes du droit sur les femmes victims de violence qui se retrouvent à la cour de la famille de l’Ontario : un portrait environnemental des fournisseurs de services en matière de violence faite aux femmes