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Safety Planning for Survivors of Domestic Violence

We asked Evan Clemence, family lawyer at Gelman & Associates, some commonly asked questions about safety planning for survivors of domestic violence in Ontario. Please be advised that these answers are not intended as legal advice, but rather as an introductory overview on a legal subject. For legal advice regarding safety planning for survivors of domestic violence in Ontario, we recommend consulting with an Ontario family lawyer.

If you or someone you know might be in acute danger, call 911 immediately. For non-emergency circumstances, including 24/7 counselling support, there may be other support available through a provincial crisis line and other resources.

For support with a divorce or separation involving domestic abuse, contact us at Gelman & Associates today and book a consultation. Our team prioritizes compassionate, dedicated service, striving to provide each client with tailored support every step of the way.

Planning the Timing and Method of Leaving

No two sets of circumstances are the same, and the context of your relationship is likely to have a profound influence on your ability to safely exit an abusive situation. There may be children involved, for instance, or an offending partner may wield disproportionate power that renders the survivor of domestic abuse financially dependent.

Leaving a partner who has enacted domestic violence is often a tremendously difficult task, and having a comprehensive plan may be of help to a survivor. This may include securing the following steps:

  • Planning a safe time to leave
  • Planning an established escape route to a secure location such as a shelter or the home of a trusted friend or relative
  • Packing a bag with essential items for the moment of relocation. These items may include identification documents, money, medication, and any other important personal belongings
  • Leaving copies important documents with your trusted friend or relative in advance, in case your departure needs to be faster than anticipated
  • Sharing the information of your plan with a trusted friend or relative, if it is safe to do so

Resources are available to provide support to survivors of domestic violence. From mental health counselling to resolutions to emergency shelters, employment opportunities, and more, call the Ontario helpline at 2-1-1 for confidential assistance.

Child Access and Decision-Making Responsibility in Cases of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can come in many forms, and may involve a combination of physical assault and emotional manipulation. When children are involved, the process of safely separating from an abusing partner can become doubly challenging.

Our Ontario family lawyers may be able to help survivors of domestic abuse protect themselves and their children through the process of leaving their spouse. In some circumstances, it may be possible to enact an emergency child access order allowing you full access to your child, if their other parent poses an immediate risk of danger.

In circumstances beyond immediate emergency measures, you may wish to contact an Ontario family lawyer to discuss your particular situation, and what steps you may be able to take to protect yourself and your children.

Options for Parenting Plans for Survivors of Domestic Abuse

As long as the child’s safety is ensured, there are many different ways a parenting plan might be structured, even within the context of a family that has endured domestic abuse. In some cases, the offending parent might seek restitution, for instance, and provide evidence that they have made strides in improving their behaviour.

Survivors of domestic abuse may wish to consider addressing parenting plans and matters of child support with an eye to what may be in the best interest of the child. If it is safe to do so, this may involve a form of shared access. There may also be options for supervised visitation, which may ensure that the children are safe during any interactions with the offending parent.

Contact Gelman & Associates for a Consultation on Safety Planning for Survivors of Domestic Violence in Ontario

Leaving an abusive partner can be a complicated and potentially dangerous process that may require careful planning. A safety plan may include coordinating with trusted friends or relatives, scheduling the departure, gathering important documents, seeking the support of provincial help lines, and more.

If you would like to learn more, or discuss the specifics of your case involving safety planning in Ontario, contact us at Gelman & Associates and schedule a consultation today. We have offices across Ontario in order to provide our clients with better access to justice.

Disclaimer: For specific legal advice on your family law matter, please consult with a family law lawyer. The content in this article is not intended to act as legal advice and is instead intended to act as a general overview of a legal topic.

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