LAO newsroom: Hot Bytes archives

Non-litigation certificate coverage

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If you are a family panel lawyer, you may have had a legal aid client recently come to you with either an independent legal advice certificate (for advice on mediated agreements) or a separation agreement certificate. Both are new non-litigation certificates that Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) introduced this past July to help clients resolve their issues earlier and avoid the family court process.

What is a non-litigation certificate?

Clients are offered non-litigation certificates because they have expressed an interest in resolving their legal matter outside of court either through mediation or a negotiated settlement. Both certificates apply the duty counsel financial eligibility test.

If the client must litigate, they must re-apply for legal aid to determine if they are eligible for a litigation certificate. Please note that the existing financial and legal eligibility criteria for these certificates will be applied.

Please be aware of the type of certificate you’re acknowledging because a non-litigation certificate cannot be used in place of a litigation certificate.

Reminders about coverage

While clients involved in court proceedings can apply for an independent legal advice certificate, they cannot be involved in existing court proceedings to be eligible for a separation agreement certificate.

The separation agreement certificate is ideal for clients who are new to the family law process and who have not filed any paper work or been served with any forms.

Furthermore, with a separation agreement certificate, regardless of whether the parties are married or not, the certificate covers any negotiated family agreement. Legal issues that are covered under the separation agreement certificate include:

  • custody and access
  • child support (guideline and section 7)
  • cases with imputed income
  • cases where the support payor is self-employed
  • spousal support
  • property division
  • pension

For more information about the available non-litigation certificates, please visit “Family Law Services” under the “Information for Lawyers” section on our website.


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