Getting Organized for Court – May 7, 2014

Welcome to Right-On with HFG Happy Families Support Network Inc. (HFG)

HFG is a not-for-profit support group that provides ongoing support to women and children who have experienced abuse

HFG is a free support group for women and children who have experienced abuse, run by women who have experienced abuse

The topic for today is – Getting Organized for Court



Going to court after domestic abuse is an extremely emotional experience

This maybe the first time you are seeing the abuser since you’ve left the relationship

You are afraid, nervous, wondering if you are going to break down and cry in front of everyone

What will he do? What will he say? How can you keep it together?

Well, take a deep breath and let’s see if we can take some of the stress away

Family Court is a transition point where you get help negotiating with the abuser

Life will be different from this point on. Court is where someone else decides what happens in your and your children’s lives

It is time to open your life to people you don’t know. To tell them all the things you have hidden over the years of abuse

This is very hard, but it is very necessary to open up if you want the judge to make an educated judgment

So let’s get organized

Write down everything that happened in your relationship from the very first day you met until you left

Write down everything that has happened since you have left the abuser

Keep all emails and texts and save all phone messages received from the abuser after you have left

Be detailed about the abuse. If you can remember dates and specific incidents, write them down

If the children were abused, write that down as well with dates and a description of what happened

When you write things down, it’s easier to remember when you are stressed and nervous

Your new buzz words are custody, access, support, divorce, court order, affidavit, motion to name a few

Here is a link to a list of Family Law terms with definitions.

Read the list, get familiar with the terms. Not everything on this list will apply to every case but it won’t be wasted knowledge

First, you need to get a lawyer. You cannot imagine how you are going to pay for a lawyer with all your other financial responsibilities

How will you afford this? You are just barely scraping by at the moment and can’t come up with the retainer

OK, take a breath, here are some options to explore

Ask family and friends if they know a family Lawyer

Ask at your local shelter, community legal clinic, or community agency for a list of lawyers they use

The Law Society of Upper Canada, Lawyer referral service www.lsuc.on.ca1-800-268-8326 or 416-947-3330

Legal Aid Ontario 1-800-668-8258

If you don’t qualify for Legal Aid, call Law Offices and see if they will accept a payment arrangement

If you make a payment arrangement, try to stick to it. The only change you should make is paying more than the monthly amount

Once you get a Lawyer, your first visit with them should be about getting them acquainted with the facts of your case

Bring everything you think will help the Lawyer to understand your case

Bring your notes on your relationship, the abuse and after you’ve left the abuser

Bring receipts, copies of emails, police reports, etc.

Be as professional as you can in this emotionally charged situation

Keep in mind that your Lawyer charges by the minute

If you need to vent, keep it in check and speak to a trusted family member, friend or at your next support group meeting

Take pen & note pad when you meet with your Lawyer. This way you’ll take notes & won’t forget what you’re asked to do or provide

REMEMBER you are going to court to make decisions that will affect your children

ALWAYS keep in mind what is best for your children

This is hard, I know. But you can do this.

The Court date is approaching & you & your Lawyer have done a lot of work, you’re ready to present your case but still feel scared

Scared to sit in Court alone with the abuser not far away. What to do?

Ask a friend or family member to go with you.

If they are not available you could get a Family Court Support Worker to attend with you

Here is a link to the Attorney General website that shows where to find Family Court Support Workers

Make arrangements for babysitting for your children, as it is best not to bring them with you when you go to court


Thank you for joining Right-On with HFG. We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday May 14 for our weekly Right-On conversation

The topic for next week is – Talking to Your Children about Divorce

Please email your questions and comments to

If you would like more information on the HFG support group please email

Have a great day! HFG Hugs!!



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