If the police decide to lay a charge, your partner/ex-partner will be arrested and taken to the police station.
This can be upsetting for your children, if they are in the home, so your first attention needs to be to them. If possible, remove them from the room so they do not see their father being arrested and placed in the police car. If this is not possible, reassure them that their father will be fine and will talk to them as soon as possible.
It is likely your partner/ex-partner will be held by the police for a bail hearing, which will happen within a day or two. He has the opportunity to get a lawyer (or, if he cannot afford one, he can use the services of the criminal court duty counsel) to represent him at the bail hearing.
At the bail hearing, a Justice of the Peace will decide whether he should be kept in jail until his trial or released from jail as long as he follows certain conditions.
He will only be held in jail if there is a strong likelihood that he will leave the area and not show up for his court dates or if the Justice of the Peace thinks he is a risk to public safety.
If your partner/ex-partner is released, he will not be allowed to have any contact with you and, possibly, the children.
Services that may contact you
If you have children, you will probably hear from the child protection agency in your community. They may want to meet with you to ensure that your children are not at risk of harm, including being exposed to woman abuse in the future. (See the Child Protection section for more information.)
You should also receive a phone call from the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (V/WAP) to offer you help through the criminal process. The V/WAP worker is your contact throughout the criminal case. She can provide you with a copy of your partner/ex-partner’s bail conditions and keep you informed as the case moves through the process. If the case gets to a trial, she will organize a meeting for you with the Crown Attorney so you can prepare to be a witness.
The criminal process can be very long if your partner/ex-partner does not plead guilty right away.
There will be many meetings between the Crown Attorney and your partner/ex-partner’s lawyer (who is called the defence lawyer). You will not be part of these meetings, so it can be hard to stay informed about what is going on.
You can ask the V/WAP worker to contact you every time something happens or when there are any changes to the situation.
How your partner/ex-partner may respond
Your partner/ex-partner or members of his family may put pressure on you to ask the Crown Attorney to drop the charges, lie in court or compromise the case in some way. He may tell you that if you do this, he will change, the abuse will stop, or, if you have already separated, he may promise to let you have whatever you want in your family court case.
You should be very wary of believing the promises your partner/ex-partner makes to you in this context. He may be willing to promise anything to try to get rid of the criminal charges, but he may not be so willing to follow through on those promises once the charges have been withdrawn.
It is also important to consider the impact on your credibility and leverage in family court if you change your statement or interfere with the criminal court process.
If you feel threatened or pressured by your partner/ex-partner at any point, let your V/WAP worker and, if you have one, your family law lawyer, know what is going on. They can help you think about how to respond and stay safe.
Contact between your children and their father
You may need to negotiate contact between your partner/ex-partner and your children during this time. If you have a family law lawyer, let them know what you are comfortable with and leave the job of sorting out arrangements to the lawyers.
If you don’t have a lawyer, make sure any contact you have with your partner/ex-partner is safe and in accordance with his bail conditions.
Restrict access to arrangements that you think are emotionally and physically safe for your children and you. Perhaps a trusted friend or family member would be willing to be present during visits or to assist with exchanging the children for visits with their father so you do not have to have direct contact with him.
Your family law case
Once the immediate considerations such as access and living accommodations are handled, your family law case will likely slow down or even come to a temporary halt until the criminal case has been dealt with.
It is important to remember that, because the purposes of family and criminal court and the standards of proof in the two courts are different, even if your partner/ex-partner is found not guilty in criminal court, you can raise your concerns about his abuse in your family court case.