Glossary - Abuse and Family Violence

access

In Child abuse and neglect, Domestic violence, Family Law

Access used to mean the time a parent spends with a child they usually don’t live with. For most family law cases, the term “access” has changed to parenting time. Now, all parents usually have parenting time. If you have a child protection case, the term access may still be used.

Parenting time or access can be on a strict schedule, such as every other weekend, or on a flexible schedule. In some cases, it might be supervised, which means someone else, like a Children’s Aid Society worker or relative, watches the visit.

A person who has parenting time or access usually also has the right to information about the child’s well-being, such as information about their health and education.

alternative dispute resolution

In Abuse and Family Violence, Family Law, Tribunals and Courts

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or family dispute resolution processes refers to different ways or processes that try to get people to agree on their legal issues without going to court. Some of these processes are collaborative family law, mediation, and arbitration.

an information

In Abuse and Family Violence, Criminal Law

This is a formal document used to begin a proceeding in court. An information can be used to accuse a person of a criminal offence or to ask for a hearing for a peace bond.

In a criminal proceeding, the information is usually sworn by a police officer who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe the person committed a criminal offence.

In a non-criminal proceeding, a private citizen usually swears an information to ask for a peace bond against someone they have a reasonable fear of.  Private citizens can also swear informations for criminal offences.

bail hearing

In Abuse and Family Violence, Family Law

A bail hearing is when the person charged with a crime goes to court after they have been arrested. At court, they ask a judge or justice of the peace to decide whether the police can continue to keep them in jail, or whether they must let you go.

The judge might give you “conditions” that you must follow if they let you go. For example, the court might order them to stay away from their partner.

best interests of the child

In Child abuse and neglect, Domestic violence, Family Law

The “best interests of the child” is a legal test used to decide many things about children. The test is different for different family law issues.

For example, when making decisions about decision-making responsibility and parenting time, which used to be called custody and access, some of the things the test considers are:

  • the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological safety, security, and well-being
  • the relationship between each parent and the child
  • the child’s views and wishes, unless there’s no way to find out what they are
  • if there’s been abuse against any family member or any child

In child protection cases involving the Children’s Aid Society, some of the things the test considers are:

  • the child’s views and wishes, unless there’s no way to find out what they are
  • the importance of keeping the child’s identity and connection to their community and culture if they are First Nations, Inuk, or Métis, even if they’re not an official member of the community
  • race, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, sex, and sexual orientation
child in need of protection

In Abuse and Family Violence, Child abuse and neglect, Family Law

This is a child who has been or is at risk of being harmed because of something that their parent or caregiver has done or not done.

The law says a child is “in need of protection” only when one or more specific conditions are met.  For example, it says a child might be in need of protection if at least one of the following is true:

  • they suffered from physical harm because of what a parent did
  • there is a risk that they will likely suffer physical harm because of what a parent does
  • they have been sexually abused by a parent
  • there is a risk that they will likely be sexually abused by a parent

If the court decides that a child is in need of protection, it can make an order that it thinks in in the child’s best interests. For example, it can order that the child be placed in the care of the Children’s Aid Society.

Children’s Aid Society

In Abuse and Family Violence, Child abuse and neglect, Family Law

The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) has a legal duty to make sure that children are protected from harm. The government has given them this job. In some places in Ontario, CAS is called Child and Family Services.

closing statement

In Child abuse and neglect, Domestic violence, Family Law

At the end of your trial, you get a chance to briefly tell the judge why you should get the court order you’re asking for. This is called a closing statement. Your closing statement should be based on: 

  • what you or other witnesses said
  • the documents used as evidence
  • family law rules and laws

You cannot talk about any new information that wasn’t used as evidence in the trial.

cross-examination

In Abuse and Family Violence, Criminal Law, Family Law

Cross-examination is when one party, or their lawyer if they have one, questions the other party’s witnesses. The purpose of cross-examination is to test how true and reliable a witness’ answers are.

Crown Attorney

In Abuse and Family Violence, Family Law

The Crown Attorney, sometimes called the prosecutor, is a government lawyer who presents the case against the person accused of a crime in criminal court. They work for the government and are not the victim’s lawyer.

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