Resources for Lawyers

The No Longer on My Own (NOLOMO) project is funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Most links provided below will take you to an external website or document. We do not endorse these websites or documents and are not responsible for their contents.

Newsletter: Click here to sign up for our newsletter to receive case summaries, articles and resources focused on family violence and family law. You may also view past issues under the “newsletter” tab below.

Quick Links for Lawyers

Manuals and Trainings

HELP Toolkit:
Justice Canada has developed the HELP Toolkit: Identifying and Responding to Family Violence for Family Law Legal Advisers. This Toolkit is designed for lawyers and includes information on how to discuss family violence with clients, legal responses when there is family violence and helpful supplemental materials.

Training for Professionals:
Justice Canada also offers a series of courses for professionals about recent amendments to family law and the Divorce Act. Courses include:

  • Introduction to Federal Family Law Amendments
  • Family violence and family law for legal advisers
  • Parenting under the New Divorce Act
  • Family dispute resolution and duties for parties to a proceeding and legal advisers under the new Divorce Act
  • Relocation under the Divorce Act
  • Inter-jurisdictional support proceedings under the Divorce Act

Best Practices for Representing Clients in Family Violence Cases
This 2015 article by Elizabeth Jollimore Q.C. (adapted from Cynthia Chewter, 2003) provides a guide for lawyers outlining best practices for working with clients in cases involving family violence.

Best Practices where there is Family Violence (Criminal Law Perspective)
This article by Joseph Di Luca, Erin Dann, and Breese Davies (2012) explores best practices for cases in the criminal justice system where there are multiple proceedings (such as family law or child protection).

The Divorce Act Changes Explained:
This Justice Canada guide outlines recent changes to the Divorce Act and includes an explanation of each amendment.

Tracking Family Law Cases Since the 2021 Divorce Act Amendments:
This manual reviews changes to the Divorce Act and reviews recent cases that highlight how courts may be interpreting these changes.

Managing Domestic Violence: A Practical Handbook for Family Lawyers:
A handbook by Desmond Ellis (2019) is available for purchase and written for family law practitioners working with cases involving domestic violence.

Interpreting the new Divorce Act, Rules of Statutory Interpretation & Senate Observations:
Given the recent changes to the Divorce Act, this article written by Susan B. Boyd and Linda C. Neilson (2020) provides a guide to interpreting the changes given the principles of statutory interpretation and taking into account Parliamentary intentions and Senate Observations

The 2021 Divorce Act: Using Statutory Interpretation Principles to Support Substantive Equality for Women and Children:
This brief from 2021, written by the Honourable Donna Martinson and Dr. Margaret Jackson reviews the principles of statutory interpretation and their application in family violence cases.

Legislative Background: An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act (Bill C-78 in the 42nd Parliament):
This article outlines the key objectives of making family laws more responsive to families’ needs. It also outlines and identifies the key changes made to the Bill through the parliamentary process, including the addition of address family violence in the Divorce Act.

Screening Tools, Safety Planning Resources and Support for Clients

The links below offer information about the importance of screening for family violence by family lawyers, resources for safety planning and where clients can find help/support in Nova Scotia.

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: The importance of family violence screening tools for family law practitioners

Safety Planning – Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women:

The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women page on safety planning includes several resources such as

  • A safety planning brochure
  • Checklist: What to Take when Leaving
  • Personal Safety Plan Book

For information about online safety, click here.

Sagesse Screening Tool:

This online screening tool from Sagesse (based in Alberta), can be used to provide information about domestic violence risk. This is a paid tool, which can be used by mediators or legal professionals as well for information about potential domestic violence risk levels in family law matters (with their client’s permission).

Support for Clients in Nova Scotia

Clients seeking support for domestic violence can call, text or visit Nova Scotia 211, available 24/7 (www.ns.211.ca)

The Family Law Nova Scotia website also has a useful directory of Community Agencies & Family Justice Services in Nova Scotia.

For further help or information about domestic abuse the provincial, 24-hour, toll-free number is 1-855-225-0220.

We also have a directory of Legal Services and Information for Survivors of Family Violence, which can be found here.

Webinars and Professional Development

Luke’s Place

Luke’s Place is an Ontario-based organization focused on the safety of women and children who are in the family law system after leaving an abusive relationship. Their website includes many resources including family law webinars, trainings, case summaries and more. Resources are Ontario-specific, but the webpage provides useful general information as well.

Family Law and Family Violence

The Family Law Family Violence Website has webinars and briefs related to the needs of survivors of violence in the family law context. This includes resources on coercive control, mediation in the context of violence, and the impact of COVID-19.

Law Society of Ontario – Continuing Professional Development from AccessCLE

Search the Law Society of Ontario’s articles from AccessCLE for dozens of articles and PowerPoint presentations on family violence and family law such as:

  • Evidence and Disclosure Issues
  • A Primer on Managing the Family Violence File – Litigation or Something Else
  • Intergenerational Trauma from a Mental Health Perspective
  • Identifying Family Violence
  • Coercive Controlling Violence: A Primer for Family Lawyers
  • Best Practices for Addressing Power Imbalances and Safety in Family Dispute Resolution Processes: Research, Protocols and the Law
  • Resources To Support Families – Father Focus
  • Safety Planning in Family Law Cases: An Emerging Duty of Care for Lawyers?
  • Practical tips for lawyers representing or interviewing victims of Domestic Violence (IPV)
  • Understanding Trauma Informed Practice
  • Service Barriers for Immigrant Women Facing Domestic Violence

Access to Justice and Law Reform Institute

This webinar is geared towards legal professionals and provides information about recent case law on family violence and family law in the wake of amendments to the Divorce Act and Parenting and Support Act. This webinar provides a brief overview of recent family law amendments and explores how courts may be interpreting these changes.

Laws and Policies

JustInfo Newsletter

Sign up for our JustInfo newsletter which includes case summaries, articles and resources focused on family violence and family law.

Past Issues of the JustInfo Newsletter

Select a link below to view past issues of the JustInfo Newsletter

Issue #1 (May 2023)

Issue #2 (June 2023)

Issue #3 (September 2023)

Issue #4 (November 2023)

Issue #5 (January 2024)

Issue #6 (April 2024)

Issue #7 (June 2024)

Domestic Violence and Access to Justice: A Mapping of Relevant Laws, Policies and Justice System Components Across Canada, 2020 CanLIIDocs 3160.

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan, Janet E Mosher and Wanda A Wiegers
Source: Canadian Legal Information Institute (2021)

Responding to Domestic Violence in Family Law, Civil Protection & Child Protection Cases, 2nd ed, 2017 CanLIIDocs 2

Author(s): Linda C. Neilson
Source: Canadian Legal Information Institute (2020)

2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People

A Report to Guide the Implementation of a National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence (2021)

Author(s): Amanda Dale with Krys Maki and Rotbah Nitia
Source: https://nationalactionplan.ca/ (2021)

A Review of the Effectiveness and Viability of Domestic Violence Interventions as an Adjunct to the Formal Criminal Justice System

Source: Nova Scotia Department of Justice Victims’ Services Division (2001)

Are We Ready to Change? A Lawyers Guide to Keeping Women and Children Safe in BC's Family Law System

Author(s): Zara Suleman, Haley Hrymak & Kim Hawkins
Source: Rise Women’s Legal Centre (2021)

Decolonizing Family Law Through Trauma-Informed Practices

Author(s): Myrna McCallum and Haley Hrymak
Source: Rise Women’s Legal Centre (2022)

Discussion Paper: BILL C-78: An Act to amend the Divorce Act, the Family Orders and Agreements Enforcement Assistance Act and the Garnishment, Attachment and Pension Diversion Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act

Author(s): Luke’s Place Support and Resource Centre and National Association of Women and the Law/Association nationale Femmes et Droit* (NAWL/ANFD)
Source: Luke’s Place (2018)

Enhancing Safety: When Domestic Violence Cases are in Multiple Legal Systems (Criminal, family, child protection)

Author(s): Linda C. Neilson
Source: Department of Justice Canada (2013)

Family Violence and Parenting Assessments: Law, Skills and Social Context:

Author(s): The Honourable Donna Martinson and Professor Emerita Margaret Jackson
Source: The FREDA Centre (2019)

Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2018:

Author(s): Shana Conroy, Marta Burczycka and Laura Savage
Source: Statistics Canada (2019)

Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2019:

Author(s): Shana Conroy
Source: Statistics Canada (2021)

Family Violence: Relevance in Family Law

Source: Department of Justice Canada (2018)

The Impact of the Lack of Legal Aid in Family Law Cases

Author(s): Rachel Birnbaum & Nicholas Bala
Source: Department of Justice Canada (2019)

Intimate partner violence in Canada, 2018: An overview

Author(s): Adam Cotter
Source: Statistics Canada (2021)

Intimate partner violence: Experiences of young women in Canada, 2018:

Author(s): Laura Savage
Source: Statistics Canada (2021)

It Shouldn’t Be This Hard: A Gender-Based Analysis of Family Law, Family Court and Violence Against Women

Author(s): Pamela Cross
Source: Luke’s Place (2012)

Kitchen Table Talks in the African Nova Scotian Community

Author(s): Courtney Brown
Source: The Nova Scotia Association of Black Social Workers and Be the Peace Institute (2019)

Making Appropriate Parenting Arrangements in Family Violence Cases: Applying the Literature to Identify Promising Practices

Author(s): Peter G. Jaffe, Claire V. Crooks, Nick Bala
Source: Department of Justice Canada (2006)

Making appropriate parenting arrangements in family violence cases, 2023 (summary and supplemental materials)

Author(s): Peter G. Jaffe, Nicholas Bala, Archana Medhekar, Katreena L. Scott & Casey Oliver
Source: Department of Justice Canada (2023)

Making the Links in Family Violence Cases: Collaboration among the Family, Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems

Source: Department of Justice Canada (2013)

Not Without Us. What We Heard – A Report About Changing the Response For Women with Disabilities Experiencing Domestic Violence

Queering Gender-Based Violence Prevention & Response in Canada

Author(s): Julia Falco, Alex Tesolin, and Fae Johnstone
Source: Canadian Women’s Foundation & Wisdom2Action (2022)

Race, gendered violence and the rights of women with precarious immigration status

Author(s): Deepa Matto
Source: Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic (2017)

Recommendations for Legal Reforms: Access to Justice in Gender-Based Violence

Author(s): Stacey Godsoe
Source: Be the Peace (2020)

Restorative Conversations: Expanding the Dialogue Project

Author(s): Sue Bookchin and Diane Crocker
Source: Be the Peace (2019)

Risk of Future Harm: Family Violence and Information Sharing Between Family and Criminal Courts

Author(s): The Honourable Donna Martinson and Dr. Margaret Jackson
Source: The FREDA Centre (2015

Spousal Violence in Canada, 2019

Author(s): Shana Conroy
Source: Statistics Canada (2021)

The Chief Public Health Officer's Report on the State of Public Health in Canada 2016 - A Focus on Family Violence in Canada

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada (2016)

Through the looking glass - The experiences of unrepresented abused women in family court: Final report and recommendations

Source: Luke’s Place (2008)

Towards a Violence-Free Canada: Addressing and Eliminating Intimate Partner Violence and Family Violence. Report of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women

Source: House of Commons (2022)

What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: The importance of family violence screening tools for family law practitioners

Author(s): Luke’s Place (Pamela C. Cross, Sara Crann, Kate Mazzuocco, Mavis Morton)
Source: Department of Justice Canada (2018)

Why can’t everyone just get along: How BC’s family law system puts survivors in danger

Author(s): Haley Hryman and Kim Hawkins
Source: Rise Women’s Legal Centre (2021)

Actuarial Risk Assessment in Sexually Motivated Intimate-Partner Violence

Author(s): Martin Rettenberger and Reinhard Eher
Source: Law and Human Behaviour (2012)

All Families Are Equal, but Do Some Matter More Than Others? How Gender, Poverty, and Domestic Violence Put Quebec's Family Law Reform to the Test

Author(s): Suzanne Zaccour
Source: Canadian Journal of Family Law (2019)

Bill C-78: The 2020 Reforms to the Parenting Provisions of Canada's Divorce Act

Author(s): Nicholas Bala
Source: Canadian Family Law Quarterly (2020)

Challenging Myths and Stereotypes in Domestic Violence Cases

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan
Source: Forthcoming, Canadian Journal of Family Law (2022)

Canada’s First Integrated Domestic Violence Court: Examining Family and Criminal Court Outcomes at the Toronto I.D.V.C

Author(s): Rachel Birnbaum, Michael Saini and Nicholas Bala
Source: Journal of Family Violence (2016)

COVID-19, the Shadow Pandemic, and Access to Justice for Survivors of Domestic Violence

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan, Janet Mosher and Wanda Wiegers
Source: Osgoode Hall Law Journal (2021)

Custody disputes Involving allegations of domestic violence: Toward a differentiated approach to parenting plans

Author(s): Peter G. Jaffe, Janet R. Johnston, Claire V. Crooks, Nicholas Bala
Source: Family Court Review (2008)

Does Domestic Violence Disappear from Parental Alienation Cases? Five Lessons from Quebec for Judges, Scholars, and Policymakers

Author(s): Suzanne Zaccour
Source: Canadian Journal of Family Law (2020)

Domestic Violence and Access to Justice Within and Across Legal Systems

Source: Canadian Journal of Family Law (2023)

Articles in this issue include:

Introduction: Domestic Violence and Access to Justice within the Family Law and Intersecting Legal Systems
Authors: Jennifer Koshan, Wanda Wiegers, Janet Mosher, Wendy Chan, and Michaela Keet

Challenging Myths and Stereotypes in Domestic Violence Cases
Author: Jennifer Koshan

“This Isn’t Justice”: Abused Women Navigate Family Law in Greater Vancouver
Authors: Wendy Chan and Rebecca Lennox

Mediator Discretion in Cases Involving Intimate Partner Violence
Authors: Michaela Keet and Jeff Edgar

The Intersection of Child Protection and Family Law Systems in Cases of Domestic Violence
Author: Wanda Wiegers

Preventive Justice? Domestic Violence Protection Orders and their Intersections with Family and Other Laws and Legal Systems
Author: Jennifer Koshan

Domestic Violence, Precarious Immigration Status, and the Complex Interplay of Family Law and Immigration Law
Author: Janet Mosher

Domestic Violence and International Child Abduction at the Border of Canadian Family and Refugee Law

Author(s): Michelle Hayman
Source: Canadian Journal of Family Law (2020)

Domestic violence, DOVE, and divorce mediation

Author(s): Desmond Ellis and Noreen Stuckless
Source: Family Court Review (2006)

Enforcing a Parent/Child Relationship at All Cost?: Supervised Access Orders in the Canadian Courts

Author(s): Fiona Kelly
Source: Osgoode Hall Law Journal (2011)

Establishing Canada's First Integrated Domestic Violence Court: Exploring Process, Outcomes, and Lessons Learned

Author(s): Nicholas Bala, Patricia Hebert and Rachel Birnbaum
Source: The Canadian Bar Review

Ethical Duties of Lawyers for Parents Regarding Children of Clients: Being a Child-Focused Family Lawyer:

Author(s): Nicholas Bala, Patricia Hebert and Rachel Birnbaum
Source: The Canadian Bar Review

Family Violence and Evolving Judicial Roles: Judges as Equality Guardians in Family Law Cases:

Author(s): The Honourable Donna Martinson and Dr. Margaret Jackson
Source: Canadian Journal of Family Law (2017)

Full Disclosure: Family Violence and Legal Ethics

Author(s): Deanne Sowter
Source: UBC Law review (2020)

Grounding Access to Justice Theory and Practice in the Experiences of Women Abused by Their Intimate Partners

Author(s): Janet Mosher
Source: Osgoode Digital Commons (2015

Investigating Integrated Domestic Violence Courts: Lessons from New York

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan
Source: Osgoode Hall Law Journal (2014)

Mapping Domestic Violence Law and Policy in Alberta: Intersections and Access to Justice

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan
Source: Alberta Law Review (2020)

Protecting Survivors of Domestic Violence Within the Insurance Regime: Opportunities to Seek Termination or Variation of Insurance Contracts

Author(s): Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey
Source: Canadian Journal of Family Law (2014)

Quality of Maternal Parenting among Intimate-Partner Violence Victims Involved with the Child Welfare System

Author(s): Cecilia Casanueva, Sandra L. Martin, Desmond K. Runyan, Richard P. Barth & Robert H. Bradley
Source: Journal of Family Violence (2008)

Sharing elements of effective practice to address earlier signs of family violence

Author(s): Liz Curran
Source: Alternative Law Journal (2019)

Specialised domestic violence courts in Canada and the United States: Key factors in prioritising safety for women and children

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan
Source: Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law (2018)

The Costs of Justice in Domestic Violence Cases: Mapping Canadian Law and Policy

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan, Janet Mosher and Wanda Wiegers
Source: Osgoode Digital Commons (2020)

The Future Harm Exception: Coercive Control as Serious Psychological Harm and the Challenge for Lawyers’ Ethics:

Author(s): Deanne Sowter
Source: Dalhousie Law Journal (2021)

The 2021 Canadian Parenting Reforms: Is Shared Parenting the New Normal?

Author(s): Nicholas Bala and Yakin Ebsim
Source: Queen’s Law Research Paper Series (2022)

A Framework for Addressing Allegations of Domestic Violence in Child Custody Disputes

Author(s): Peter Jaffe, Claire Crooks and Nicholas Bala
Source: Journal of Child Custody (2009)

A Review of Pro Pro-Arrest, Pro-Charge, Pro-Prosecution Policies: Redefining Responses to Domestic Violence

Author(s): Dr. Nancy Ross and Cary Ryan (2021)

Children’s best interests and intimate partner violence in the Canadian family law and child protection systems

Author(s): Judy Hughes and Shirley Chau
Source: Critical Social Policy (2012)

Effects of Historical Coercive Control, Historical Violence, and Lawyer Representation on Post-Separation Male Partner Violence Against Mother Litigants Who Participated in Adversarial Family Court Proceedings

Author(s): Desmond Ellis, Tanice Lewis and Taryn Nepon
Source: Violence Against Women (2020)

Enhancing Civil Protection in Domestic Violence Cases: Cross Canada checkup

Author(s): Linda C Neilson
Source: Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research University of New Brunswick (2015)

Family Violence and Family Law in Alberta: The Need for Legislative Reform and Expansive Statutory Interpretation

Author(s): Jennifer Koshan
Source: LawNow (2021)

From the Trenches of High-Conflict Family Litigation

Author(s): Erika Hagen
Source: Law Now (2019)

Going the Distance: Supporting Rural and Remote Survivors with Family Law Issues

Author(s): Pamela Cross and Paula Wansbrough
Source: Luke’s Place (2016)

Implacably Hostile or Appropriately Protective?: Women Managing Child Contact in the Context of Domestic Violence

Author(s): Christine Harrison
Source: Violence Against Women (2008)

In Whose Best Interest? A Canadian Case Study of the Impact of Child Welfare Policies in Cases of Domestic Violence

Author(s): Ramona Alaggia, Angelique Jenney, Josephine Mazzuca and Melissa Redmond
Source: Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention (2007)

Interpreting the new Divorce Act, Rules of Statutory Interpretation & Senate Observations

Author(s): Linda C. Neilson and Susan B. Boyd
Source: Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (2020)

Managing High Conflict Family Law Cases for the Sake of the Children

Author(s): Marguerite Trussler
Source: Canadian Bar Review (2008)

‘Ordinary decent domestic violence’: A discursive analysis of family law judges’ interviews

Author(s): Catherine M Naughton, Aisling T O’Donnell, Ronni M Greenwood and Orla T Muldoon
Source: Discourse & Society (2015)

Partner Violence and Child Custody Cases: A Cross-National Comparison of Legal Reforms and Issues

Author(s): Peter Jaffe and Claire Crooks
Source: Violence Against Women (2004)

Risk Factors for Children in Situations of Family Violence in the Context of Separation and Divorce

Author(s): Peter Jaffe, Katreena Scott, Angelique Jenney, Myrna Dawson, Anna-Lee Straatman, and Marcie Campbell
Source: Department of Justice Canada (2014)

The Divorce Act and Invisible Abuse: Coercive Control in Family Law

Author(s): Glenda Lux
Source: LawNow (2021)

The Role of Service Providers, Technology, and Mass Media When Home Isn’t Safe for Intimate Partner Violence Victims: Best Practices and Recommendations in the Era of COVID 19 and Beyond

Author(s): Danielle C. Slakoff, Wendy Aujla and Eva PenzeyMoog
Source: Archives of Sexual Behaviour (2020)

When Shared Parenting and the Safety of Women and Children Collide

Author(s): Pamela Cross
Source: Luke’s Place (2016)

Impact of Family Law Amendments in Nova Scotia

This webinar is geared towards legal professionals and provides information about recent case law on family violence and family law in the wake of amendments to the Divorce Act and Parenting and Support Act. This webinar provides a brief overview of recent family law amendments and explores how courts may be interpreting these changes.