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“Family Violence” Damages And Divorce

“Family Violence” Damages and Divorce

By , of Carmichael Law Professional Corporation posted in Divorce on Saturday, April 16, 2022.

An Ontario court recently issued a landmark ruling in a civil case examining the financial cost of physical and psychological abuse in marriage. In fact, the judge’s decision introduced an entirely new type of “tort” to local case law. And as a result of this case, countless abuse victims could be empowered to hold their abusers accountable and take back control of their lives following a pattern of violence and psychological pain.

The family lawyers at Carmichael Law have zero tolerance for domestic violence or abuse. If you are considering divorce or have recently separated from an abusive partner, we are prepared to defend your rights and seek fair compensation for the harm you have endured. To learn how the latest changes to the law could impact your case, continue reading or contact us today for a consultation.

Details of the Recent Landmark Case in Ontario

The recent ground-breaking decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was handed down by Justice Renu Mandhane. The case in question involved a woman who filed a claim against her ex-husband to seek compensation for the physical and psychological abuse she allegedly suffered at his hands during their 17-year marriage.

During the trial, the husband argued that his ex-wife’s claim was based on a limited number of incidents. The wife, however, maintained that these incidents were simply examples of a broader pattern of abuse, control, and coercion. In addition to numerous physical assaults, the woman accused her husband of sexual intimidation, financial control, and regular insults and threats.

The Birth of a New Tort

During the 11-day trial, Justice Mandhane reviewed evidence from both sides and ultimately sided with the ex-wife, awarding her $150,000 in damages. As she penned her decision, Justice Mandhane recognized recent amendments to the Divorce Act that acknowledged the lasting impacts of family violence.

Justice Mandhane went on to say that these changes still failed to address all of the issues that go along with family violence. Since judges are not meant to consider marital misconduct in spousal support determinations, she noted the need for a new tort that provides abuse victims a “direct avenue” to seek compensation for the impacts of family violence, which “go well beyond the economic fallout of the marriage.”

What Counts As a “Family Violence” Tort?

In addition to recognizing family violence as a new tort, Justice Mandhane introduced a simple test to determine whether compensation should be awarded in a given case. According to the judge’s decision, a person may be ordered to pay “damages” (money) to a family member of theirs if the person engaged in conduct that:

  • Was violent or threatening toward the family member
  • Constituted a “pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour”
  • Caused the family member to fear for their safety
  • Caused the family member to fear for the safety of another party

If someone in a family relationship engaged in conduct that meets any of the above criteria, they could be held financially liable in civil court. Family violence victims now have a basis upon which they may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost earning potential, and more. The damages awarded are not for any one individual incident but rather for the pattern of violence that the victim repeatedly endured.

Contact a Family Lawyer in Oshawa

If you or someone close to you is a domestic violence survivor in Oshawa, ON, don’t hesitate to contact Carmichael Law. Our Oshawa family lawyers can discuss your rights and legal options during a confidential consultation when you reach out to us by phone or online.

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