Violence screening tools for family law professionals

pensive woman looking out window

Woman abuse is a common issue in family court cases, yet few legal professionals screen for it. As The Globe and Mail reports:

About 67 per cent of domestic homicides in Ontario involved couples who had separated or were about to separate, according to data from the province’s chief coroner spanning from 2003 to 2016…. Although family lawyers said domestic violence factors into nearly a quarter of their cases, 79 per cent said they’d never or rarely relied on any standardized method to learn whether their client is being harmed this way, according to a 2016 survey from the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family.

However, as the Globe reports, more tools are being developed for lawyers, mediators and others in the family court system to assess a client’s risk for violence and abuse.

The Barbra Schlifer Clinic is developing a new risk assessment tool with funding from The Law Foundation of Ontario. It includes print and online surveys that explore at a variety of abuse tactics.

This builds on research Luke’s Place conducted for the Department of Justice in 2018. A new screening tool will be launched by Pamela Cross, our Legal Director, for the department in 2020, with an online training on family violence.