LAO expands services for families at Superior Courts of Justice
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has added two new family law duty counsel services at many superior courthouses to help more low-income Ontarians across the province.
- Support from on-site family law lawyers. Clients who arrive at many superior courthouses can approach the courtís duty counsel for help.
- Support via LAOís toll-free telephone service. Clients who arrive at a Superior Court of Justice and find that the courtís duty counsel is providing (or has provided) services to the person on the other side of their dispute can now call LAOís toll-free telephone line. As it would be a conflict of interest for the courtís duty counsel to support both parties that day, LAO is providing these clients with an alternative to receive services. They will go to the top of the waiting list for immediate summary legal advice on their family matter.
Until last year, most of LAOís family duty counsel lawyers worked in Ontario Courts of Justice, where they could help as many clients as possible. These courts handle family law disputes that fall under most Ontario legislation Ė custody, access, child and spousal support, adoption and child protection applications.
Last year, to ensure access to justice for all eligible clients, LAO expanded its duty counsel services to many Superior Courts of Justice. Superior Courts of Justice and the unified family courts in which some are located are the only courts that deal with divorces, division of property and appeals of child protection cases.
In addition, LAO equipped duty counsel at Superior Court of Justice who assist or have assisted the other side of a family law matter with a handout for clients. This handout, available in English and French, is for clients when duty counsel is already helping the opposing party. It includes instructions on how to receive assistance from LAOís telephone summary legal advice lawyer as quickly as possible.
It advises clients to:
- make sure their court documents are available when they call LAOís toll-free number
- tell the person who answers the phone which Superior Court of Justice they are in
- say that they need help immediately because they are in court that day.