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What is an integrated domestic violence court?

Family matters are often complex. That complexity, along with the emotions that often accompany issues that arise regarding families, can lead to situations escalating to a point where someone either does something he or she did not mean to do or leaves the another person feeling as though something that should not have happened, did. This can lead to allegations of domestic violence.

In a situation such as this one, because in many cases there are multiple people whose lives will be affected by the outcome, it is important that the matter is handled in a delicate manner. In addition, legal issues regarding the matter could arise not only in criminal courts but family courts as well. Since the two are so intertwined handling them in the same location is generally a good idea. Enter the Integrated Domestic Violence Court. But just what is this court?

Initially set up in 2011, the Integrated Domestic Violence Court is at least in part the result of the findings of Ontario’s Domestic Violence Death Review Committee in 2004. It is designed to help resolve communication problems between the criminal and family courts. There are multiple ways in which a court like this one could make things better for all involved.

First, it provides a better connection to community resources and other social services. Second, it makes it possible for a judge that has knowledge about domestic violence to handle the matters. In addition, the judge assigned to the matter can look at it holistically and address not only safety concerns but any progress being made pertaining to parenting matters and compliance with orders. Along those same lines, being able to address matters that would come up in both types of proceedings makes it possible to get rid of inconsistent or conflicting orders. Last, it is often less expensive for all parties involved.

Whether this approach will gain traction and spread throughout other parts of the province and country is currently unclear. To make sure that it is fair to all involved the pilot was created. Thus far the court appears to be well received.

If you are facing a domestic violence charge you may not know what course of action to take. A criminal defence lawyer is most often the best place to start. He or she can help you to make those determinations based on the specifics surrounding your situation.

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