On March 1, 2021 amendments to the Divorce Act and provincial and territorial family law Statutes came into force which desire judges to take family violence into consideration in family law proceedings. Family violence happens when a person abuses another person in the family – either to a child, spouse, sibling, or any other adult in the family. Family violence is of many types – physical, sexual, mental, psychological, or financial. Family violence becomes more vital in family court proceedings when it comes to parenting arrangements for children.
Definition of Family Violence
In the Divorce Act, family violence means any conduct, whether or not the conduct constitutes a criminal offence, by a family member towards another family member, that is violent or threatening or that constitutes a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour or that causes that other family member to fear for their own safety or for that of another person — and in the case of a child, the direct or indirect exposure to such conduct — and includes
(a) physical abuse, including forced confinement but excluding the use of reasonable force to protect themselves or another person;
(b) sexual abuse;
(c) threats to kill or cause bodily harm to any person;
(d) harassment, including stalking;
(e) the failure to provide the necessaries of life;
(f) psychological abuse;
(g) financial abuse;
(h) threats to kill or harm an animal or damage property; and
(i) the killing or harming of an animal or the damaging of property; (violence familiale)
Financial abuse is one of the forms of family violence. Financial abuse has been defined in Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which someone harms another person in a close relationship in a way that relates to money, for example by using the other person’s money for themselves, or making them spend money by tricking them”.
Checklist of Financial Abuse
Does your spouse:
- Force you to work or stop you from working;
- Force you to sign documents to sell or transfer the property/assets;
- Force you to cancel or amend your Will and Power of Attorney;
- Force you to give access to your bank account information and to make transactions without your knowledge;
- Force you to sell or transfer the gifts and inheritance;
- Force you to surrender your government benefits payment to him/her;
- Steal your money;
- Fail to provide necessities of life to you and your children;
- Block you from accessing your bank account or joint bank account;
- Restrain you from securing a credit card or line of credit;
- Withhold you from spending money;
- Withhold information about the source of income or resources;
- Ask you to account for all money spent by you;
- Incur debts without your consent or knowledge;
Financial Abuse and Dowry Fraud
In South Asian and Muslim cultures notably, it is a custom that parents and relatives of the bride give her some money and/or other valuable items in Jahez (Doweries). This custom is still in practice in some South Asian and Muslim families living in Canada. There have been some reported incidents where men married women for financial gain in the shape of Jahez. They use such valuable items, dispose of them or keep them and then separate from such women.
If you are separating or divorcing, and you have experienced any form of violence during the relationship and/or after the separation, it is very important that you bring such incidents of violence to the attention of the court for the purposes of parenting arrangement, child support, spousal support, division of property and equalization.
If you need legal help to deal with your Divorce and Family Law matter, please contact IQBAL LAW and we would be happy to assist you in an affordable and skillful manner.