When Criminal Law and Family Law Intersect in Ontario

November 27, 2023
November 27, 2023 Plat Simionati

When Criminal Law and Family Law Intersect in Ontario

Disclaimer: This article aims to provide educational information surrounding criminal law and family law. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. Consult with a lawyer and exercise your discretion before taking action based on the information provided in the blog. 

No area of law exists in a vacuum, including family law. Family law matters often involve other areas of law, including but not limited to criminal law. In some instances, criminal charges are brought by a spouse during divorce proceedings. Because there is no statute of limitations for criminal matters in Canadian law, charges can be filed based on past incidents.  The long-reaching implications of such charges can affect various aspects of your life, especially your family relationships.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense based on allegations made by your spouse, this article will highlight the challenges that arise when criminal charges are intertwined with family law matters.

Police Undertakings and Their Impact

When charges are filed, law enforcement agencies often impose undertakings as part of the legal process. The officer has determined that the accused person can be released under certain conditions. 

Signing that undertaking is a commitment by the accused that they will abide by those conditions upon their release. Breaking any of the conditions will result in the accused being arrested and charged with breach of undertaking.

Undertakings stemming from criminal charges can have a significant effect on the accused parent. These undertakings can impose various conditions, including no-contact orders and restrictions on entering the family home

These undertakings can lead to significant disruptions in parenting dynamics, affecting the accused person’s ability to maintain a stable presence in their children’s lives. In such scenarios, the other party might request the removal of the other from the family home. They may consequently obtain sole decision making and primary care of the children while enforcing stringent visitation conditions on the accused. These manoeuvres can significantly disrupt established parenting arrangements and introduce heightened emotional strain into a complex family dispute.

The Difficulty in Obtaining a Variance

Obtaining a variance means the person subject to the undertaking wishes to have some or all of those conditions modified. In the context of criminal and family law, when someone has been issued a police undertaking, they may want to amend the terms of the undertaking, such as restrictions on communication or residence or other conditions that affect their ability to parent their children.

To obtain a variance of a police undertaking, the legal process may involve gaining the consent of the Crown or prosecutor. The undertaking may also state that there be no contact except if allowed by a family court order. Obtaining the court’s approval to change the conditions set by the police undertaking is a complex task; it is difficult and time-consuming. 

Following the terms of the undertaking 

Because obtaining a variance of police undertakings can be intricate, it requires patience and diligence. We understand that navigating through these challenging situations can be emotionally draining. However, it’s essential to carefully follow the conditions of the undertaking until the terms are legally modified. Failing to comply with the existing conditions can lead to additional legal problems. It can potentially affect your access to your children and the overall dynamics of your family relationships.

To avoid further complications and maintain a solid legal standing in family law matters, it’s advisable to work closely with your legal counsel. Follow their guidance while seeking a variance. While the process may take time, staying committed to the legal steps necessary is essential for protecting your rights and ensuring a smoother transition in your family circumstances.

Navigating complex situations with Plat Simionati LLP

The intersection of criminal charges with family law is a complex area. Therefore, it demands a thorough understanding of both legal domains. Suppose you are going through a difficult situation such as this. In that case, it’s critical to seek legal advice from professionals who can navigate these issues with empathy and expertise. At Plat Simionati LLP, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of criminal charges within the family law context. Don’t hesitate to contact Plat Simionati LLP for assistance securing the best outcomes for you and your family.