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What if I have family court and criminal court issues happening at the same time?
You may have family law and criminal law issues at the same time.
The Ontario Court of Justice has an Integrated Domestic Violence Court at 311 Jarvis Street in Toronto. The same judge hears both the family law and criminal law cases that involve partner abuse. The court tries to help families experiencing domestic violence by coordinating both cases. This means your case might be resolved faster.
But this court cannot hear certain types of family law cases. It cannot hear cases that involve divorce, property division, or child protection. So if your family case is about any of these issues, you cannot go to the Integrated Domestic Violence Court.
And the Integrated Domestic Violence Court is only available to people in Toronto. Everywhere else in Ontario, you will have to go to 2 different courts.
If you have to go to 2 courts, you may get orders from both courts that say different things. For example, your family court order may say your partner has access to the children. But your criminal court order may say your partner must stay away from you and the children.
Both orders have to be followed. So if there is a conflict, you might need to get the family court or the criminal court to change their order. For example, you might need to change the criminal court order to allow for access to the children.
Talk to a lawyer
You can talk to a lawyer who can tell you how you may be able to protect your child.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for everything, some lawyers provide "unbundled" or "limited scope" services. This means you pay them to help you with only certain things, like getting a restraining order or drafting a court document.
If you have experienced family violence and need immediate legal help, you might be able to get 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer. This service is offered through some women’s shelters, community legal clinics, and Family Law Service Centres. Or you can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.
If you have experienced sexual abuse and live in Toronto, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay, you might be able to get 4 hours of free advice from a lawyer. You have to complete a voucher request form. Or you can call the Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program at 1-855-226-3904 to find out more.