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Is a person presumed innocent of a criminal charge in Family court?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

In the 2003 decision of C.H. v. Durham Children’s Aid Society, the Family court judge decided that the father’s criminal charges demonstrated a pattern of physical altercations and anger management issues and, even though the criminal charges were eventually dismissed, they were relevant to deciding what was in the children’s best interests.

The 2 children had been in the care of the Children’s Aid Society since April 11, 2001. The father was granted supervised and semi-supervised access. On April 29, 2002, the father was charged with assaulting his girlfriend. He was in jail until the criminal charges were dismissed on June 20, 2002, after which time the access visits resumed. On September 5, 2002, the father was again criminally charged with assaulting his girlfriend. He alleged that she assaulted him, but she was not charged. The father’s criminal charge was dismissed on September 24, 2002.

The Family court judge stated that “the father’s recent behaviour had been problematic. He had been inappropriately angry and confrontational with Children’s Aid Society. When he was granted access, he did not abide by reasonable expectations…He encouraged the children to lie about the visits. He allegedly threatened harm to one of the children’s caregivers…He increased the stress on at least one of the children by a veiled threat that he knows where their mother lives. He continues to be involved in episodes of domestic strife which result in criminal charges being laid. Although these charges are eventually dismissed, there is a pattern of physical altercations and anger management issues.”

The father appealed this decision, however, the appellate court decided that the Family court judge’s decision was correct.

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.