Separation deals can be challenging in abusive relationships

If allegations of domestic violence arise during a divorce, there is little chance a separation agreement can be reached without going to court, says Mississauga family lawyer Deepa Tailor.



Mediation and Arbitration are Not Good Options

“Sometimes mediation and arbitration are not good options, especially if one side is alleged to be abusive,” says Tailor, managing director of Tailor Law Professional Corporation.

“A lot of people want to negotiate a separation amicably. But if there is abuse in the relationship, that is not realistic.”

A person in an abusive relationship is usually in charge of the household finances and is reluctant to disclose everything.



High-Profile Separation Cases

Tailor says there are lessons everyone can learn from high-profile divorce cases involving allegations of abuse, citing a Globe and Mail article concerning two Hollywood actors.

For example, the wife asked a judge to dismiss her ex-husband’s defamation lawsuit over an op-ed she wrote.

The wife alleged the husband slapped, shoved, choked, or pulled her hair on more than a dozen occasions, which he denied, claiming she was abusive to him, the article states. The woman in the hearing testified that her husband had been abusive.

“Text messages or Facebook messages are really powerful evidence when it comes to proving abuse,” says Tailor. 

Proving abuse in a relationship can be difficult because friends and acquaintances may not be willing to testify in court.

“Abuse can take other forms than just being physical, as financial and emotional abuse all tie back to that power imbalance between the parties,” Tailor says.



Abuse is Difficult to Prove

Legal counsel should be consulted early on in abuse cases to determine what evidence is admissible, she recommends.

“The court will not always accept good evidence, even if it seems convincing,” Tailor says.

She stresses that the first step for anyone facing abuse is to get themselves to a safe place.

“If someone is in an abusive relationship, they must find a way out and then we can sort out the legalities,” Tailor says.

She encourages these clients to go to shelters that take in victims of abuse.

“I try to take an empathetic approach to the practice of law,” Tailor says. “I realize this is a very difficult process for those going through it.”

Another problem is that some cultures and religions are more accepting of a power imbalance in a marriage, she says.

“Some people don’t recognize that the family setting they grew up in was abusive,” Tailor says. “Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting out of an abusive relationship.”


This post was first published on (which is now Inactive). This is a re-published article.

By Paul Russell, Contributor. October 7, 2019

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