Family Court After Abuse – Part 2

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 – Family Court After Abuse Part 2

Family court is very expensive, emotionally taxing and time consuming, it is even worse when there was domestic abuse

When there’s domestic violence mediation & other cooperative forms of resolution doesn’t work because of power imbalance

When you go to court to settle custody, access & child support issues, you’re asking the Judge to make decisions for you

You may not like the final decision the Judge makes or how long the decision making process takes

The Judge makes decisions based on material presented by both parties & their lawyers & in the best interest of the child

The following is taken into consideration when deciding custody and access in the best interest of the child

  1. child’s health & emotional well-being, child’s views and preference when they can be determined
  2. child’s relationship with parents and other important people, history of care, impact of family violence
  3. permanence and stability of family unit and ability to care for the child
  4. Make sure all your court documents present what’s in the best interest of your children at all times

To understand what’s happening in Family court, familiarize yourself with the following frequently used legal terms

Application – The commencement of a proceeding in a court by way of filing the appropriate court form

Adjournment – Postponement of a court hearing to another date

Affidavit – A written statement or declaration of facts that are sworn or affirmed to be true

Affidavit of Service – An affidavit certifying that a document has been served on a party

Answer – A response to an allegation or an application

Applicant – A person who makes or starts an application

Case Conference – meeting between judge & the parties/their lawyers, or all together, to identify & resolve disputed issues

Pre-Trial Conference – meeting with judge, the parties’ lawyers/all together to consider possibility of settling prior to trial

Settlement Conference – informal meeting between judge & the parties & their lawyers to identify issues that can be settled

Trial Management Conference – takes place after a Settlement Conference if the Family Court Application remains unsettled

Disclosure – Making information and documents known and available to a party in a proceeding

Motion – A process used to make a request to a judge for an order, either before, during or after a trial or other proceeding

Order – A court’s direction requiring a party to do something or refrain from doing something

Consent Order – An order made by the court based upon the agreement of the parties

Divorce Order – Final order made by a court in a divorce case. On taking effect, a divorce order legally ends a marriage

Final Order – An order that decides a case or claim on a final basis

Support Order – an order that a person pay support for their dependents, with amounts to be paid & when support must be paid

Support Deduction Order – an order that allows the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) to collect support payments

Temporary Order – an order that is effective only for a limited time until a final order is issued

Respondent – person against whom a claim is made in an application, answer or appeal

Service – The formal delivery of a legal document to the required person in accordance with the rules of court

It’s important for you to read all your court documents carefully, making note of any dates or important deadlines

If you miss an important deadline, you may be refused the right to file your court documents

If you miss your court date an order may be made against you in your absence that’s not in the best interest of your kids

Dress appropriately when going to the court to appear before a judge, don’t wear clothes with inappropriate language or images

Arrive at Court early. You’ll need to clear security & locate the court room for your hearing before start time of our case

Be prepared for the security search by not carrying any items that may prevent you from entering the court

Wait outside the courtroom or conference room until your case is called. Don’t bring food or drink or chew gum in the courtroom

Turn off cell phones. Always be courteous to court staff. Stand whenever the judge enters or leaves the courtroom

Follow all instructions that may be given to you by the judge or court staff. Speak only when you’re asked to speak

Address the judge as “Your Honour”

Courts are not appropriate places for children so make other childcare arrangements for your children when you go to court

REMEMBER – keep anger out of your negotiations as much as possible

Family court in most cases is extremely adversarial and you need to always remind yourself why you are there

You will need to take your feelings out of the Family court experience and just think about your children

Decisions made in Family court will affect you as a parent but it will affect your children even more

So take a deep breath, put on your thick skin and try not to take your experiences in Family court too personally

BE STRONG. Remember you are doing this for your children

Please email comments and questions to and join the conversation

Thanks for joining Right-On with HFG

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday October 29 for our weekly Right-On conversation

The topic for next week is – Negotiating with your Abuser in Family Court

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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