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How do criminal and family lawyers work together?

While information sharing between family and criminal lawyers is crucial, a “one judge” approach could be problematic, says Toronto family lawyer Jennifer Samara Shuber.

A recent Toronto Star report examined how a lack of information sharing between the family and criminal court systems is “putting domestic violence victims at risk, with deadly consequences.” The issue has been flagged to the provincial government as a serious issue since as early as 2004, says the newspaper.

The Craven, while the family court had granted the man unsupervised access to their son every weekend, according to a coroner’s inquest.

“The two systems interact quite frequently,” Shuber, partner with Basman Smith LLP, tells “In family law cases, your client could either be the alleged perpetrator or the alleged victim of domestic violence.  You have to be sensitive to these issues and allegations from the get go.”

“Studies show that a person in an abusive relationship is at the highest risk of serious injury or death in an intimate relationship at separation. Family lawyers see people who are right at that critical cross road. We need to be aware of this potential,” says Shuber. “These things need to be handled sensitively by both sides.”

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Photo Credit: Steve Koukoulas

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