Trigger warning: Domestic violence, sexual and physical abuse

From time to time, the Canadian Department of Justice takes various steps to make the divorce process smooth, fair, and seamless for families. For this reason, you normally hear of changes made to some provisions of the Divorce Act now and then. Primarily, the government aims to ensure that everyone is accommodated and that the provisions are not unfair to the unique circumstances of some cases.

In this regard, the introduction of no-fault divorce and various forms of alternative dispute resolution methods are always cherished by people. The idea of a quick divorce with the least amount of disclosure of private matters is definitely something each one of us desires. However, should a quick divorce be the only goal when there is domestic violence involved?

In our vast years of service as reputable family lawyers in Edmonton, we have realized that one of the major reasons behind divorce in Alberta is spousal abuse or some sort of family violence. Unfortunately, the victims are either too terrified to report such abuse or feel uneasy about disclosing the matter.

But ignoring a problem or keeping quiet about it with the expectation that the problem will halt after the divorce is not a wise decision. Research shows that acts of violence persist even after divorce or separation. In fact, individuals actually face a higher risk of family violence soon after divorce or separation according to the Department of Justice. Thus, you must think of a permanent solution for your well-being and that of the other victims such as your children.

In light of the subject’s sensitivity, we have decided to openly discuss it in our blogs to encourage our readers to report any unethical activity occurring in their domestic settings. Accordingly, this blog post will discuss domestic violence in detail and its prevalence in Canada. Moreover, we shall discuss the relevance of domestic violence in divorce and child decision making cases.

Which Actions Fall Under The Umbrella Of Domestic Violence?

For many of you, domestic violence is simply the act of beating, punching, or using a weapon. However, this absurd act covers more than just that. Surprisingly, many people do not even realize that what they are enduring is actually violence.

Domestic or family violence is defined as any action performed by one person with the intent of physically or emotionally harming or suppressing another person. Although we are currently dealing with domestic violence as a divorce subtopic, it does not only occur amongst married couples. According to research conducted by the appropriate authorities, some victims report intimate partner assault as early as the age of 15.

However, it is important to remember that domestic violence is more than just spousal or intimate partner abuse. Any abuse inflicted upon other family members such as children also constitutes domestic violence which is a punishable crime.

Broadly, you can group domestic violence into the following types:

  • Physical violence: This includes any aggressive physical behaviour including hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, biting, shaking, drowning, pulling hair, burning with a hot object, and any other action that harms a person physically. It also includes threats of physical violence.
  • Sexual abuse: The use of any sort of power or intimidation to force a victim into sexual activities without their consent also constitutes domestic violence.
  • Emotional or verbal abuse: Persistent use of offensive language and threats.
  • Financial abuse: Refusing to fulfil the need of dependents as an act to demonstrate control over others.

To find out whether your situation constitutes domestic violence, book a consultation with one of our experienced family law experts.

Domestic Violence Facts And Figures In Canada

While cases of reported domestic violence have significantly declined from what they were in 1999. As expected, women are still the major victims of domestic violence. However, the change in economic positions and career focus has changed the traditional violence pattern a bit. Today, even males face severe violence from their female counterparts.

Here are some quick facts and figures:

  • Around 6.2 million women aged 15 years and above report some sort of IPV.
  • In comparison, 17% of men report physical abuse.
  • Indigenous women are more likely to experience domestic violence.
  • There were 497 victims of intimate partner homicide in Canada between 2014 and 2019. 400 of them were women.
  • The LGBT group is most affected by IPV.

Domestic Violence As Divorce Grounds

Although ADR is often encouraged, it might be better to opt for a fault divorce when domestic violence is involved. After all, there is no guarantee that an abusive partner will stop harassing you after divorce. Thus, it is better to bring such matters to a court’s attention. This will also help the judge make better decisions for your children (as discussed later).

Child Decision Making Cases And Domestic Violence

The law requires judges to make decisions in the best interest of children when dealing with when awarding guardianship to parents. However, domestic violence complicates these decisions and the judge may have to consider a number of factors before deciding on such cases. But one thing is clear, a parent accused of domestic violence will not have a chance of winning unless the accusations are proved wrong. However, the burden of proof lies upon the reporting party.

Also Read: The Effects Of Domestic Violence On Child Guardianship Cases

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