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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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Part 6: Your rights under family law

Whether or not you are legally married, you and your children have certain rights under Ontario's family laws. If you were married and want a divorce, the federal Divorce Act also applies. These laws deal with things like:

  • decision-making responsibility for the children
  • where the children will live
  • parenting time between parents and children
  • dividing up family property
  • financial support for you and the children

Making an application in family court is different from being a witness in a criminal proceeding. In family court, it is better to have a family lawyer to represent you. You are in charge of your case, and your lawyer takes direction from you.

Three courts deal with family law issues in Ontario:

  • Ontario Court of Justice
  • Superior Court of Justice
  • Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice

The Ontario Court of Justice includes the Integrated Domestic Violence Court located in Toronto.

Only the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice can deal with all family law issues. If this court does not exist where you or your children live, you should call the courthouse in your municipality to ask which court you should go to. Go to, click on "Court Services" and then "Court addresses".

It is important that you go to the right court.