Family Law: What You Must Know About Family Violence Damages

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Family Law: What You Must Know About Family Violence Damages

Divorce is never easy because many people are affected, not just spouses. The children often suffer the most because they are the ones who have to deal with the aftermath of the divorce. Of course, the process becomes more complicated if other factors are in play, such as abuse.

There are many types of family violence, but all involve some form of abuse. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or financial, and it can also be verbal or psychological. Family violence is a serious problem that can have a lasting impact on the lives of those involved. Of course, divorce can be tough for all parties involved, but it's challenging for those who have been the victims of abuse. Few people know the intricacies of how this works, so we'll discuss the details in this article.

A Landmark Family Violence Case

In a landmark family violence case, the woman, who cannot be named due to a publication ban, argued that the province's current family law system is inadequate in dealing with domestic abuse cases. She also argued that she should be compensated for her pain and suffering. The husband argued that his ex-wife's abuse claim was based on several isolated incidents. The wife argued that these incidents were part of a larger pattern of behaviour that included physical assaults, sexual intimidation, financial control, and regular threats and insults.

A New Tort

Justice Mandhane believes that a new tort should allow abuse victims to seek compensation directly for the impacts of family violence, which are often more severe than just the economic consequences of the divorce. After hearing evidence from both the ex-wife and ex-husband and reviewing recent amendments to the Divorce Act, Justice Mandhane decided that the ex-wife should be awarded $150,000 in damages. In her decision, Justice Mandhane took into account the lasting impacts of family violence, which are now recognized in the Divorce Act.

What Constitutes a Family Violence Tort?

Aside from recognizing family violence as a new tort, Justice Mandhane laid down several factors determining when a person should pay damages in a case. These include

  • 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 the above criteria, they could be held financially liable in civil court. This means that if a family member is found to have repeatedly engaged in violent behaviour, the victim of that violence may be able to sue them and receive compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost earning potential, and more.

Working with a Family Lawyer

You should contact a family lawyer if you believe you or a family member may have a claim against another person for family violence. Family violence claims can be very complicated and sensitive. A family lawyer can help you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for any damages you have suffered.

However, you don't just hire the first lawyer you see because you must consider certain factors, such as:

Expertise and Experience

You need to find a lawyer with experience in dealing with family law cases and the knowledge to guide you through the process. This means they have handled similar cases to yours and have the skills to get you the best possible outcome. You can ask the lawyer questions about their experience and ask to see some examples of cases they have handled in the past.

Compassion and Understanding

Family violence can be very sensitive and challenging, so you must find a compassionate and understanding lawyer. This means that they will be able to empathize with your situation and will be able to provide the support you need during the legal process. You can ask the lawyer how they would approach your case and deal with the sensitive subject matter.


You must find a lawyer who is readily available to you. You will likely have many questions and must talk to your lawyer regularly. This means you need to find a lawyer with a flexible schedule who can meet with you when you need to.

Legal Fees

Above all else, you must ensure you can afford your lawyer. You will be responsible for paying your lawyer’s legal fees, so you must ensure you can afford to do so. Make sure you ask your lawyer about their legal fees upfront, so there are no surprises later.


Family violence may be a recent addition to Canada's Divorce Act, but that doesn't make it any less critical. If you have been a victim of family violence, you may be entitled to additional protections and assistance. You should speak to a lawyer about your rights and options.

If you’re looking for a Medicine Hat law firm, Hamilton Cahoon can help you! We understand the gravity of a relationship falling apart, so we’re here to ensure you get the proper compensation you deserve. Visit our website today to schedule a consultation!