If you are a woman in or thinking about leaving an abusive relationship, or if you have already left one and you want to know more about family law and court, this website is for you.
Even if you have already started to deal with your family law issues, you will find this website helpful.
The family law information on this site is specific to Ontario. These laws will be different from province to province and outside Canada. However, there will be other information on this site that will be useful to you even if you don’t live in Ontario.
Your journey through the family law system
Sorting out the many family law issues that come up at the end of a relationship, especially when you have an ex-partner who has been abusive, can be overwhelming.
The more information you have – about the law, court processes, the people you will encounter on your journey – the better you will be able to manage your way through the system.
You will be safer, feel more confident and be better able to make the many important decisions that lie ahead of you. You will also be in a better position to support your children, who may also find the process overwhelming.
If the abusive person in your life has access to your phone or computer, we strongly encourage you to use a different device to look at this website.
This website offers many worksheets and documents that you can download. Please be cautious about downloading if the abusive person might access your device.
Read our web and phone safety tips to learn ways to protect your use of technology, but remember nothing is safer than using a device to which the abuser does not have access.
If it is safe for you to download our documents, we encourage you to keep them private and safe.
Abusers will often attempt to gain power and control by getting access to your personal information and records. Hide printed material in a safe place, and ensure online or computer documents are stored on a secure device and are password protected.
It is also important to keep this material away from your children as they may find it upsetting to read about your family law case; in addition, your ex-partner may pressure them for information.
How to use this website
How you use this website will depend on a number of things:
- The legal issues with which you are dealing
- The stage of the process you have reached
- Your learning style, and so on
The content is available for download, if it’s safe for you to do so. You might want to download just a few worksheets on the pages where they are provided. Or you can download the whole workbook and organizer; however, currently these are being updated due to changes in the law. They will be available again for download in fall 2021.
Use the search tool (at the top and bottom of each page) to search for specific topics.
Take a “need to know” approach and only read those sections that apply to your situation at the moment. Information can be a key tool in helping you to feel more empowered, but it can also feel overwhelming at times.
Remember to use self-care techniques and take breaks or access support as needed when reading this material.
Watch a webinar on how to use this website.
We strongly encourage you to work with a women’s legal advocate throughout your family law case.
The language we use
Throughout this website, we use the words “woman” or “she/her” to refer to the person who is being subjected to abuse and the words “man” or “he/him/his” to refer to the person who is causing the abuse because that reflects the majority of these situations.
However, this material is designed to assist any woman leaving an abusive relationship, regardless of the gender of the abuser.
We define the word woman to include anyone who self-identifies as a woman.
We hope that you are able to use this website and the downloadable workbook in a way that is empowering, informative and meaningful.
The family court system has considerable power and influence. It is important that those who need to use it are well informed and have a voice in the process. This can be especially difficult when you have just left an abusive partner and may be feeling particularly vulnerable.
Always remember that by leaving your abusive partner, you have taken an important and courageous step toward building a life free from abuse and violence for yourself and your children.