New Integrated Domestic Violence court first of its kind in Canada

Posted on: Friday, March 25, 2011

New Integrated Domestic Violence court

This summer, the Ontario Court of Justice will be launching a specialized court to hear criminal and family cases where domestic violence is the underlying issue.

On June 10, 2011, Canada’s first Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) court will be opening at the 311 Jarvis Street courthouse in Toronto, as a two-year pilot project. Currently, people who have concurrent family law and criminal matters must appear in different courts, before different judges so their legal issues can be heard. The IDV court will allow families to appear before a single, dedicated judge for their family matters when there are also related domestic assault charges against one or both sides.

Cases will be put before the IDV judge in sequence, generally on the same day, which will reduce delays in hearing family and criminal matters. The “one family, one judge” approach will also allow the judge to have more complete information about the families and to monitor them more effectively. This will increase accused accountability and enhance complainant safety.

The new IDV court is modeled after similar courts in the USA and England, and was developed in consultation with stakeholders, including domestic violence advocates and Legal Aid Ontario representatives. The goal of IDV courts is to protect the rights of all litigants, increase offender accountability and promote victim safety through a more holistic, comprehensive approach.

Read more: the Hon. Justice Geraldine Waldman recently published an article called The What and Why of the Proposed Integrated Domestic Violence Court on the Ontario Bar Association’s website.