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Lawyers alarmed at criminal charges in family cases

|Written By Marg. Bruinman

During his 20 years as a criminal defence lawyer, Joseph Neuberger has defended more than 400 cases involving charges arising from domestic relationships. Many, he says, relate to separation and bitter family court battles.

‘The sad reality is that legitimate cases of abuse get tainted with the same incredulous brush,’ says Roots Gadhia. Photo: Robin Kuniski

“Over the past 10 years, I have noticed an increase in the prevalence of these types of offences with a disturbing trend to use the criminal process as a quick means to obtain exclusive possession of the matrimonial home and thwart custody and access to the children of the relationships,” says Neuberger.

“I have successfully established fabrication in at least 15 per cent of the cases with very clear contradictions in evidence, including differences in affidavit evidence tendered in the family court proceedings.

Yet not one case resulted in charges being laid against the complainant.”

The absence of witnesses makes prosecution of false allegations difficult. While Neuberger emphasizes the need to take legitimate cases seriously, he worries there isn’t much in place to prevent a spouse from fabricating an allegation.

It’s a trend Murray Maltz, who has been practising family law for 27 years, has also noticed. But there are no studies, no way to quantify the problem, and, most troubling, no solutions at hand.

When someone makes a complaint, police must lay charges.

In family litigation, a criminal charge is like a red flag even when the case is still before the court. Additionally, the introduction of the criminal process can throw a wrench into any friendly resolution of the matter.

“So if you want to play the game, ‘I want custody, I want to control the situation,’ often people will take the position, ‘I’m going to call the police,’” says Maltz.

Immediately, the accused leaves the home and can’t communicate with the spouse and the children or come within a certain distance of the house. That makes the issues of custody and access more difficult.

As a result, according to lawyers, the spouse making the allegation has an edge in the case. With exclusive access, the children themselves could become pawns in the case.

Delays in the criminal system complicate the situation as the charge can easily loom for a year. By the time it’s over, says Maltz, the damage is done.

“How do you combat that?” he asks.

Domestic violence continues to be a concern in Canada. Statistics Canada reported last week that about 99,000 Canadians were victims of police-reported domestic violence in 2010. It also noted that more children reported witnessing domestic violence in 2009 than in 2004.

Clearly, the issue of domestic violence continues to be a serious societal concern. But complications arise from false allegations.

“The sad reality is that legitimate cases of abuse get tainted with the same incredulous brush,” says criminal defence lawyer Roots Gadhia.

Ontario introduced a new integrated domestic violence court last June to deal with people who had cases before both the family and criminal justice systems.

The pilot project is running in one Toronto location. Gadhia is hopeful this new court will be able to deal with the inconsistencies that she says are sometimes very apparent in the family and criminal court files.

The aim of the integrated domestic violence court is to improve the communication and co-ordination between the criminal and family courts, said Jason Gennaro, spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

“The court provides a single judge to hear criminal and family law cases relating to one family where domestic violence is an issue,” he says. “This will support the judge in more fully understanding the family and its ongoing needs.”

In 2009 and 2010, the government introduced legislative reforms to strengthen the family justice system and make judges more aware of violence that may have occurred in the family. Anyone applying for child custody or access must now complete a sworn statement.

Lawyer Esther Daniel points out that Form 35.1, an affidavit required for custody or access applications, requires those seeking custody to indicate if the applicant faces any criminal charges.

As a result, the family and criminal matters intersect when it comes to disputes over custody of the children and the matrimonial home.

As both a criminal and family law practitioner, Daniel worries the situation could lead to further abuse of the criminal justice system.

“It usually comes about when there’s a matrimonial breakdown and then police are called,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of criminal clients that have had proceedings against them . . . and family court proceedings follow.”

It’s difficult, she adds, to discern fact from fiction. Clearly, the issue of abuse between couples is one the courts take very seriously. But it’s also clear to many lawyers that some people use the process to further their own family law case.

“Unless you personally are witness to what the situation was . . . you don’t know 100 per cent,” says Daniel. “However, you can assess the situation and have a good judgment.”

At the end of the day, it’s the subjects of many of those disputes who suffer the greatest impacts, says family lawyer Kristy Maurina.

“We are dealing with real lives and the interests of children,” she says. “It can have a detrimental impact on the children who are already dealing with the pain of separation and are now faced with a loving and involved parent who is suddenly not allowed to see them anymore.”

For those involved in a marital dispute, the damage is immediate once someone levies a criminal charge.

“All the stakeholders in the justice system . . . need to use their discretion,” said Daniel.

“Domestic violence is something that needs to be taken seriously. But at the same time, you do have to uphold the integrity of the justice system.

The persons in the justice system should be

supported when they use their discretion not to lay a charge or not to proceed with a matter and should do so free from the pressure that there may be professional consequences when doing so.”

Maltz foresees some practical approaches to the issue. Expediting the criminal matters, for example, is important, he notes.

The family courts, according to Maltz, have made great strides and become much less combative over the years while the criminal courts remain adversarial. In situations where there’s overlap or crossover between the two, they should work on the same level, he suggests.

“I’d like to see the courts somehow combine themselves and actually deal with the charges together."

  • Falsely Accused Dad of 1 year old......Absolutely Heartbreaking

    Catherine Caruso
    I have a friend who's wife (arranged marriage) came from Pakistan with their new baby in August 2018. Immediately he and the baby were inseparable. The Mother lies and lies and lies about everything. He kept telling her that trust is imperative to him and that until there is trust, there is no marriage. The baby was even planned on her part as a way to ensure her coming to Canada. She became increasingly frustrated with him resisting her attempts at intimacy and threatened that she would call the police, tell them he hurt her and take the baby....and she did just that! Two weeks prior, she told him that her Mother was very sick and needed to have surgery in Pakistan. She said she needed to go home and take the baby with her. She didn't have her PR Status at that time so he said no. Turns out, her Mother was never ill and that she was going to take the baby to Pakistan and never return to Canada. When he didn't let her travel is when she decided to call the police. He is so broken emotionally. He has worked his ass off going to University, working to finally get his dream job and fell madly in love with his baby, whom he not seen in 2 months. It's so unfair and so devastating for he and his family. I want so much to help him. If you have any advice to offer, similar cases you are aware of or any words of wisdom, please let me know. He is in Ottawa. He does have a Lawyer but things are moving SO slowly and he cries constantly longing to be with his baby. It's heartbreaking to watch.
  • Lawyers Alarmed?

    Attila L. Vinczer
    I do not believe lawyers are surprised about the massive use of frivolous criminal allegations, usually by women against men in Family Court. Most lawyers, condone it as a strategy for women to get a leg up against men. Moreover, women's shelters promote the use of DV, sexual assault and in worst cases child sexual assault allegations, against the father.

    As a survivor of a failed false child sexual assault allegation in Family Court leading into 10 years of research, including attending court hearings 100's of times, I can say with certainty that false allegations by women within our Judiciary is at epidemic levels. I have brought to light that 8 men to 2 women commit suicide in Canada, daily. This is the true barometer of how bad it is when divorcing men are 8 times more likely to commit suicide than a female in the general population.

    400 criminal cases = $2 to $20 million in billing! Plus Family Court costs. Why would any lawyer want this cash cow slain?
  • train wreck

    J walsh
    I have been accused of domestic violence and am completely innocent, the judicial system and police have put me through hell and back. I am a father of 6 and my wife and I were having a dispute. The neighbors had phoned the police and police arrived on scene. I talked with them and told them that no domestic violence had occurred. The police took my wife outside and threatened her by stating that if she didnt charge me that the kids would be involved with childrens aid and she would be jailed. After she several times told them there was no assault they radioed police detachment and stating she would be arrested. She complied with a minut false statement protecting the children. She knew I would of wanted the children to always be with their mother. It has been 6 months and she has since obviously recanted her original statement. I have not been able to talk to her see her or communicate with her or the children. This has been unbelieveably hard on everybody.
  • Ms

    Elsa Olsen
    Our family law system in Canada is nothing more than a sham/scam perpetrated by greedy lawyers encouraged and condoned but the Law Society. Due to the terrorist tactics, used by my ex's lawyer I have suffered from PTSD for the past 7 years
  • Rasid G
    I had one unexplainably weird encounter with Vancouver police and "justice" system.
    I was in relationship with one doctor/surgeon. After 2 years she asked me to help building her a house (started as partnership/built for sale). I quit my carpentry job and become a builder. 6 weeks before the completion (before she was to pay me around 100.000 for my builders fee, she "broke up relationship". Left her phone for me to find how she cheating on me with another doctor (married with kids). I was hurt, emailed her "boy", told him to go away... She called the police, threw me out. 3 days after I placed Builders lien, she called police again, had me charged for criminal harassment...
    4 months after, 10 minutes before my trial date was set, "crown" dropped all the charges.
    Never had a chance to present my defence, nobody to ask why there is no charges. All it was left is me being financially ruined, without money to sue her for contract, and with sticker of being "maniac"
  • Ken Small
    Men are frequently victims in family law cases. And that means children are victims, as far too many never see their dads after divorce.

    I am not sure which is the greater crime.....that of family law against fathers, or that of our education system against boys.
  • jay peer
    This is exactly why Harper's Bill C-42 is so disturbing.
    CPC supporters are prancing around toting it as an advance on reforming Canada's overly strict and needlessly complex firearms regulations...and yet, really, the bill is just more gun control...more right wing authoritarianism disguised in freedom's false moustache. And a poorly fitting one at that.

    The bill provides for lifetime sporting/hunting firearms bans for anyone involved in any type of domestic violence...but it's clear that really what it does is open up the potential for the law being used as a hammer by angry spouses and their lawyers. We already HAVE laws protecting people from violence. Enforce THOSE rather than just creating more.
  • Patty H
    I am a woman whose partner accused of DV in a trumped up statement to get himself off the same charge. Cops believed him, charged him with domestic assault and recommended full discharge. Charged me with more counts. I declined statement on advice of legal aid but had no access to legal aid other than 4 mins w duty council before many court appearances. Crown recommended suspended sentence and criminal record for me. Both of us, first offense. I couldn't plead not guilty b/c no lawyer. He got lawyer and both bullied me into peace bond as only way to not be convicted and get criminal record. I was instructed to lie by lawyer and never once was able to speak the truth. The man was paying for the house and this was "buying my co-operation". I was tailed by cops throughout peace bond. His statement stands....what they say about destroying it is bunk. Asking about recanting statement, a criminal lawyer told him he would be an idiot b/c "everyone lies".
  • Taylor K
    The place to go after is the womens' support groups and shelters. They actively encourage women to lie about DV in order to get the upper hand and get child support payments. Send in some undercover women to look for help and resources on how to leave their partners and you will see this with your own eyes. Whats worse is that most of these organizations are funded by our governments through grants! They must be accountable for knowingly advising women to commit perjury.
  • Misogyny Kills
    Mothers of men that hurt women are to blame for this.
    Mothers that stand by and watch their sons maim, rape or violate females are to blame.

    Men that hit, punch, strangle, bloody, maim, hospitalize, break the bones of, give concussions to and kill females....

    Ask their mothers (if they are still alive) - what did you do to these boys/men - rather what have you NOT said to them?

    Have you said 'hurting women is wrong?' to your son?
    Have you said 'what have you done!?!?'

    Or have you defended him? Because if you've just helped another abuser hurt another woman, just like yourself. And you, are therefore - the reason for evil. The reason men hurt women is that they do not have a FATHER OR A MOTHER telling them that IT IS WRONG.
  • Jim J.
    I'm a victim too. My wife threatened me and threw me out of the house and applied in family court for exclusive possession. She got it no questions asked in a 10 minute family court session. Six months later she filed false DV allegations with the local RCMP detachment. The Crown withdrew the trumped up charges but a "Peace Bond" is still in effect so I'm at her mercy for months until it expires. I have to wait a year to have my prints destroyed and name taken off CPIC so I can travel to the States without getting hassled. The Family Law system in Canada is a joke and a human rights abuse against men!
  • Ahmed B
    same happening to me here,
    my wife cheated on me and got a baby;
    when I asked her for a DNA test she called the police and threw lots of tears and false DV allegations.
    She changed address / phone number and went under an emergency protection order
    when asking for a DNA test she would refuse, when you go to the court you cant serve her as there is no coordinates
    Meanwhile, she went to court, served me, imputed my income for a high child support payment and asked the judge to get me to meet my girl for few hours a week under police presence

    the system is protecting "B..." and this has to stop
  • Suzanne
    I"ve seen many cases were females have made false allegations for financial gain in family court lied to FRO they lied & lied nothing in Canada is in place for woman who do this charges must be in place for those who waste the courts time & police the cost on men in family matters is so out there that legal aid has given up in financing these cases never mind then they get criminal charges can you picture the cost of legal fees with all this crap never mind the stress on the children & abuse man pay & pay I've seen it it's like they finance the court rooms one way or another it's up to them & their lawer to prove their innocence at what cost many goto the poor house after it all the woman walks laughing no penalty for her lies or cost what's with the system something has to give with the Canadian system FAMILY & CRIMINAL COURT
  • Mark
    As a retired police officer, I have experienced first hand the changes in the justice system over the years.

    I am still a firm believer that despite Ministerial direction effectively reducing police officer's discretion when investigating domestic violencediscretion there still exists the ability to investigate. Proper investigation by properly selected and trained people can weed out many of the illegitimate claims. Unfortunately, the current trend has created a new form of "investigative laziness". Where once police officers may have been lax in laying charges, now they have become equally lax in properly investigating allegations. The attorney general's guidelines to police state that thorough investigation is imperative and to be cognizant of false victimization while doing so.
  • Jim J.
    I completely agree. In Alberta you can walk into a sleepy RCMP detachment, file a statement that isn't checked for accuracy, print off a few unverified emails, and have somebody charged with serious criminal offenses (no crown approval required here for charges). No investigation is done. It's a great way to get even with a spouse and ruin their reputation while getting the upper hand in a divorce.
  • Collateral

    Nancy Secker
    Your statement is just about what I have seen also in Alberta. It is going on everywhere. A recent quote I have read rings true..."Law enforcement needs to show true concern and impartiality to both spouses." That would be constitutional. Domestic Violence legislation means "believe the victim" at all times. Cover your butt, lay the charges, even if the plaintiff has revealed confidentially that there are considerations for divorce. No red flags are sent up. Minimal evidence and investigations are done. Documentation and reporting deficiencies abound. Over jealous interventions are systematically de-constructing the nation's families. It is a big cash cow for all involved.
  • Collateral

    Nancy Secker
    Have seen this first hand, also in Alberta but it is going on everywhere. A quote I have read... "Law enforcement needs to show a true concern and impartiality for both spouses." That would be constitutional. The domestic violence laws as they are legislated means they are always to believe the victim. Evidence and investigation need only be minimal. Documentation deficiencies abound. Just lay the charges, cover your butt and let the courts decide. Even if it is revealed by the plaintiff that divorce has been considered prior to the alleged DV. Does that put up some red flags? All front line workers know false allegations are rampant but nobody does anything about it. It is all about funding. It is a cash cow on the backs of unfortunate spouses and the lives of their children. Overzealous interventions are systematically deconstructing the nation's families.
  • Rochelle
    This article came to my attention through a search I undertook on fabricating evidence. On the death of a "parent" - it is open to who can apply. At present no checks, of any kind, are undertaken on applicants for parenting orders. These "eligible persons" can be child molesters, murderers, druggies or anyone at all and our government can not see fit to protect our children from these types of people who apply. On fabricating evidence - this can be done in multitudes of ways. In the case I am involved in evidence has fabricated by way of cutting and pasting emails to suit, and copies of hand written letters (of the deceased person) have been fabricated in order to discredit me, the mother. My child is not protected from these people, and there is very little I can do.
  • ABN
    TRULY abused & battered women NEED protection from the legal system.

    FALSE accusations HURT women and children as a unit. Many men's groups identify with this. It's the FALSE accusations that are so damaging.

    We can all attest that TRUE domestic violence (meaning cases with clear evidence) are those requiring attention.

    Judges recognize the importance of EVIDENCE at the court level. Courts and judges are quick to assist victims of domestic violence with credible evidence (ie. pictures, doctor's notes, video and witness testimony).

    The real victims of domestic violence need protection and help from the public.

    False accusations only hurt the *true* hurting victims of domestic assault crimes.

    We as citizens are continuing to focus on the REAL victims.
  • Andrea
    My husband physical abused me for 2 1/2 years and the last time he abused me, I ended up with a concession. I gave the police hospital records and pictures of me with bruises from previous incidents, and they told me they were going to arrest him. 6 days later I got arrested because him and his family falsely accused me of assaulting him for a period of 2 years.
    I'm so frustrated with the legal system that I can't do anything about it and have to be stamped as a criminal.
    On top of this, a month later I get served with divorce papers based on cruelty and he is basically asking for 100% of family property and family assets.
    How can the legal system and the R.C.M.P be so f...up?
    Why can't falsely accused people do anything to prove that they're innocent before going to trial?
    Not only have they ruined my life I'm scared for life with this experience.
  • Patrick
    Andrea, so sorry to hear about your situation. I can seriously understand your disbelief and frustration of what has happened to you. Its a real shame that a law system has worked against many innocent people in an unfair way... is now acting against itself and contradicting its old fashioned belief of protecting woman against domestic abuse. The blame goes to the woman using the system for their own gain and not truthfully for protection against domestic violence.
  • Mark Bogan
    The administration of family law is broken within Canada. Thirteen years have passed since the release of a special joint committee document "For the Sake of the Children" Our Governor General addresses the Canadian Bar Association last year and said, "The Law Society has to heal thyself" Cheif Justice Winkler finished a three year tour last year. He conducted an examination of discorvery in every court within Ontario. Among conclusions: "The system has to be re-built from the ground up. When is the bar association of Canada prepared to heal thyself and champion for change! When is Mister Nicholson also going to change this broken system. How about his Provincial counterparts. Why the silence. Families are important, however millions are broken up by a disfunctional family court every year. It is clear how families are a target minority and how fathers are underscored, underpinned and discriminated.
  • Patrick
    My experience left me scared knowing how easy it was to be painted as a criminal. I know some of noted that it happens to woman and I agree. Some have also said that the Police need evidence before charging and that's not true. The day I was taken away from the house I tried to plead my case with cuts and scratches on my face... With only a grin on hers, I was hancuffed and put in the car. The courts were pushing for two years in jail, with only a contridicting video and written statement? Good thing I had a good lawyer for the trial, and I was aquitted of all charges. In the words of the judge... "As soon as she opened her mouth I knew what happened here which gave me reason to have doubt...". The only reason I was set free was b/c there was doubt and not b/c of the truth I gave... Becareful to those going through a seperation.
  • want to help
    I have a friend going through this exact issue, he was arrested for assult by his wife who is likley looking to get an easy divorce out of the hole situation. To make matters worse he does have a record for assult but has not been in trouble in a number of years. He's has held a full time job for 10yrs with good pay and benefits while she has only held season jobs and has a drug and alcohol problem... reading this makes me wonder if there is a way to help him fight the charges of assult - this is one of those reverse situations where 90% of the time he is the one being assulted and I have been a witness to some of the incidents.
    Can anyone provide help on how to try and help this person both my husband and I do not want to see this ruin a good man's life.
  • Dred
    The family law system is broken beyond repair and is easily manipulated by anyone wishing to do so. Men and women do this and can always find a lawyer to support them. there is no penalty for false accusations that can ruin people's lives and certainly children are scarred forever. I would not have believed it until I went through it. The difficulty being there will always be varying levels of income, emotion, and parental fitness - these should not be judged in court - they should be written into a marriage contract and be mandatory. if we all knew the outcome maybe we would not divorce and stay in our own beds.
  • Emily
    Police have a duty to lay charges only when there is sufficient evidence NOT simply based on someone's accusation. The outcome of domestic violence court cases aren't reflective of the number of false accusations but reflect how difficult it is to prove abuse within the legal system. With domestic violence on the rise, it's alarming to read of so much support for denying women's claims.

    While false accusations are a small minority of total claims, this forum seems to assume they all come from women. Many abusive men, are aware of how to manipulate the legal system and frequently accuse their partners of assault or mental instability in an effort to gain custody of the children or discourage the woman from leaving him for fear of loosing her children, thus keeping her and the children in an abusive situation.

    Before evaluating others claims of DV, we should examine our own bias and assumptions.
  • Robert Samery
    Emily has fallen in to the hole of defending women's claims against men's claims as if only one set of claims can be tolerable.
    It's very likely that both men and women have valid complaints, and they don't compete.
    Women do suffer from domestic violence, so do men. Women also make false claims as do men. There's most likely an imbalance of numbers on each side, but so what. There isn't a threshold below which these kinds of claims shouldn't be taken seriously.

    BTW Emily, the above article is pretty clear that one of the problems in this area is that there aren't any reliable numbers. Where do you find that "false accusations are a small minority of total claims"?
  • Barry K
    I hope these changes become a reality after my children & I lived through the nightmare of this abuse first hand. After a failed mediation attempt an arbitrator ruled 100% to what I proposed which was 50/50. I am a good father and my proposal was fair as she is a shift worker at a Correctional Centre (insert joke here!) so she was unable to even care for the children when working a 12 hr shift. She couldn't handle the decision and resorted to changing things by abusing the law and it's favouritism towards women. She called the OPP following an exchange where she actually assaulted me, 2 of my 3 children witnessed it and the 2 FEMALE OPP never even asked these 2 eyewitnesses the truth. She did this, among many other reasons to avoid paying me a minimal amt of child support! Her plan worked at first but the truth eventually came out. My charge was eventually thrown out and my kids actually told the OPP it was mommy who hit daddy and that she lied! She was NEVER held accountable!
  • Mad at Misandry
    Notice how women DEMAND equal pay while they refuse men equal time with their children (largely because women get so much money they get to take from their ex husbands (supposedly for the kids)!
    Why would women ever have to earn money equal to men if they can just take it easily from men (and if the man wont pay, a false allegation can make that much easier)!
  • Mad at Misandry
    Women who lie about domestic violence do a major disservice to women who really are abused!
    Just like women who rape, do a major disservcie to women who really have been raped!
    BTW, Rape and Domestic violence are the two most lied about crimes of all times!
  • Ken Maynard
    With support payments at skate and high personal debts loads are all factors. Take away the motivation to act this way and it will disappear. Equal parenting as a default position appears to be the best current solution to the problem.

    Have all of the settlement process develop inside a container like mediation or collaborative law
    And you will see things start to change for the better.
  • Russ McNeill
    The "For the Sake of the Children" report recognized false allegations as being harmful to children, and it recognized that many women use it to eliminate the father from the children's lives. Yet the government did nothing with this report. So nearly 15yrs later, we are still wondering why we have false allegations in family court.

    I blame some of the lawyers for this. They know the easiest way for them to win in court is to have their client make up allegations of abuse. When these allegations are found to be false, nothing happens, so the lawyer uses this tactic over and over again.

    It is time to sanction people for false allegations. It is illegal to make false allegations, but our courts don't punish people for this despicable act. If people were punished and lawyers forced to ensure all the allegations are truthful, then this practice would end.
  • Mike Murphy
    The blending of family and Criminal Law has nothing but negative outcomes for children. It enhances the position of one parent, over the other, and may well be part of the tactics using false allegations to obtain sole physical custody. There is case law to show this actually gets caught periodically but it takes a person with deep pockets to fight it.

    We need to move to a presumption of equal/shared parenting, for fit parents. Children had two equal parents before divorce but Canada's dysfunctional Family Law system performs very harmful parentoctomies on children. In over 90% of cases mom gets sole physical custody. Social Science clearly shows the very negative outcomes for children in these situations. I'm surprised Lawyers don't understand this.
  • PaulQ82
    False accusation is used as a weapon to remove one of the parents from the life of the child.
    equal parenting should be the basic presumption of the court,it will stabilize the environment around the child.
    allow both of the parents to enjoy their parental rights and will ensure that both of them will be motivated to support the children,in terms of child support.
  • Peter van de Voorde
    Criminal Law requires a much higher burden of proof than what is required in Family Law. Furthermore, the punishment for perjury is severe and effective in the jurisdiction of Criminal Law, unlike the feeble responses seen in the jurisdiction of Family Law. If the Divorce Industry were genuinely interested in protecting the best interest of children, it would call for the immediate protection of the parent/child relationships of both parents, following a claim of Domestic Violence. Such relationships should remain protected until the claims have been dealt with in the jurisdiction of Criminal Law, which carry severe penalty for perjury. This would protect genuine victims of abuse, but take away the incentive to make a pre-emptive first strike by one of the parents.
  • John Menear
    I entirely agree with Mr. Tarkington that criminal charges against false accusers for fabricating evidence and sanctions against lawyers who knowingly participate in this type of wrongdoing would help discourage the nonsense. John Menear
  • Deeon
    I agree. Accusers get away with crimes and come back to finish off their victims with the blessings of the court judges and lawyers. The latter no longer have the cut of their predecessors.
  • Eric Tarkington
    The article is a refreshing dose of reality, but the problem is not really new, and the proposed solution is alarming.

    How can anyone with a law degree want to mix criminal with family law proceedings? How could that fail to violate basic individual rights protections that go back centuries in British law?

    The prevalence of false allegations made for getting house, custody and child support was very high 10 years ago, and very little real change has happened in family law, so it's unlikely that the rates have changed very much. It was easy back then to find a lawyer who would talk privately about this.

    For a sharp, entertaining discussion of this issue, Google for "Committee Transcripts: Standing Committee on Justice and Social Policy - October 24, 2000 - Bill 117, Domestic Violence Protection Act, 2000", click on "Committee Transcripts - the Legislative Assembly of Ontario", and then click on "WALTER FOX".
  • Patrick
    This article explains exactly whats happening in Ontario courts. Not only have I been a victim of this abuse in courts by my ex, but its a growing fashion amongst the younger generation. My ex was advised to get me out and get everything without question, is to have me arrested! I not alone had to hire a criminal and family lawyer, but lost many hours of work and more importantly a year of not being able to spend quality time with my children that wanted to be with me and not their mother. I'm far along, just wish the courts had realized this long before my time. Times are changing and so should the way the court deals with these occurances.
  • JM
    I totally agree with that supposition. Take away the incentive to behave that way and it will mostly stop taking the form that it is taking...


    The exact same thing has happened to me in California...
  • Kevin Pedersen
    I want to add to Patrick's comment about Ontario courts that this article also explains what is happening in British Columbian courts. When you are not involved you believe that Canadian justice must be fair. But the majority of us are divorced and we can all testify that our courts do not follow even fundamentally legal principles. So many children would not be significantly harmed if basic standards were upheld.
  • Glenn Cheriton
    I am horrified that a lawyer would want to combine family law and criminal law. This would inevitably bias the family court decision against an accused, even when "fabrication" was proven. There are already too many perverse incentives for adversariality and pre-emptive first strikes. We have safeguards in criminal trials against prejudicial or unfounded suggestions or accusations, but none of those appear to be used in family courts. Family court outcomes show overwhelming evidence of gender bias and the effect of gender biased criminal law. Whatever happened to justice, fair play, and human rights? President, Canadian Equal Parenting Council
  • Johanus
    There is a problem that in custody cases the judge already asks if there are any criminal charges laid or pending. It doesn't matter that these could be from false allegations. If such exists, then it is used against the (usually) man who had the false allegations made against him.
  • Bradley Corbett
    A good article. Nice to see this acknowledged in a public way.

    The article does not discuss the issue of parental alienation. False domestic abuse charges are used as a tool to alienate children from a loving parent. Thus, the courts are complicit in facilitating parental alienation against a loving and responsible parent while placing the child in the custody of a parent who is mentally ill.

    Equal parenting as a default position appears to be the best current solution to the problem. Take away the motivation to act this way and it will disappear.
  • Michael Hurche
    In both Criminal and Family Courts in Ontario evidence - pictures, doctor's notes, video tapes, a few cases I know of the abusive man admitted to assaulting his wife which was used to convict him) everyone will step in and help.

    Many times true abusive men will deny physically abusing their spouses, even when faced with evidence, even if they've admitted to it. They are the real dangers and other men need to watch out for these guys. At least the ones that plead guilty early knowing there is enough evidence and they feel guilty and sorry for their actions get a lesser sentence. The ones that deny deny deny eventually get what's coming to them.

    Police do have zero tolerance, BUT they don't make arrests that continue to prosecution without clear evidence that something bad happened. Crown lawyers don't take domestic cases to trial unless it's a pattern, the guy's admitted to it, or the woman almost died.
  • D Gould
    Not so...the Crown Attorneys are completely corrupt and Liars to Boot! They also Rig the Courtrooms. They need to have Cameras in Court to observe the behaviors of Opponents during these proceedings, and Judges review the Scenes. Had this occurred...I would not have any Criminal convictions now. Also for the so-called 1st Offence...I had more ridiculous restrictions for Bail and Recognizance that completely limited my Normal Life and Job while awaiting Trial. The Entire Courtroom and System is Rigged. This happen to me in Brantford, Ontario (Criminal Courts). Then I was jailed again for a False Breach Charge...while my Ex had her scuzzy Family Court Lawyer push through conditions in a Default Hearing! Default Hearings should be Banned.
  • DB
    And it doesn't mention that it is overwhelmingly women who engage these types of behaviour.
  • Jim Canie
    Equal parenting as a default position appears to be the best current solution to the problem. Take away the motivation to act this way and it will disappear. Absolutely the correct thing to do! well bringing sanction against the lawyers that make these false allegations should reduce this tactic. This is used in Sarnia on an occurring basis by a chosen few lawyers as their gam plan!
  • Wayne Caudle
    I couldn't agree with Jim more,Unfortunately I am a recent victim of the system here in Sarnia I think these lawyers should have a little bit if you're put in them especially one male lawyer here in Sarnia whose name I will leave out but Jim would know who I am talking about.i do believe that if the judge sits for one of your matters they should recuse themselves if they end up with both I believe it is a conflict of interest.There is just far to much collusion and two many back room deals made in this area.I also believe that the family court part should never be taken care of until the criminal part is dealt with I believe that it will weigh heavily against or for the person who's been charged unfortunately it doesn't work that way and that is why I am a victim of the system thank you
  • Eric Tarkington
    Equal parenting absolutely should be the norm in divorces between fit parents, and parents should enjoy the presumption that they are fit until very strong evidence to the contrary meets a very high standard of proof. Sadly, the known bias of the courts corrupts some women into rejecting every solution short of sole custody. This leads to needless litigation, and harms children in the process. It also bullies many fathers into inequitable agreements by consent. Competent counsel is ethically obliged to tell the mother that she has this advantage.

    If equal parenting is established in law before the problem of false allegations is solved, the rate of false allegations will probably go sharply up. A minority of unethical women will feel strong pressure to fight for their former privilege.

    Actually bringing sanctions against a lawyer or two would probably reduce the rate of false allegations. Serious punishments for false accusers would also help.
  • HowardB
    In 2006 the Australian "weak" shared parenting reform introduced s117AB, mandatory costs orders for knowingly false accusations and/or denials. These costs orders could include the solicitors.

    Litigation dropped 22%.

    In 2011, after a change of government to the left, s117AB was repealed as part of the family violence amendments - a unilateral & underhanded means of repealing shared parenting.

    Family lawyers claimed s117AB put children at risk because mothers were afraid of making (false) allegations of family violence.. and absolutely nothing to do with their loss of income.
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