Getting legal help

Family summary advice

Before you call, get your documents and facts together

For faster help, have a summary of your family law issue written down.

If you need to change an order or agreement, you must have a copy of the document you are referring to available for the consultation with the lawyer.

Make the call yourself

The representative cannot talk to anyone other than you about your problem.

If you have a family law issue, you may be able to get free summary advice over the phone from a Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) lawyer for up to 20 minutes.

To find out if you are eligible for summary advice, call LAO toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please note that you may be asked a few personal questions that have to do with Aboriginal heritage and race, as well as whether you are experiencing any abuse in your family. We are collecting this information to understand your specific needs and to better serve you. Your answers to these questions are voluntary and your personal information will be kept confidential. Learn more about how to get free help from a lawyer—also known as summary advice—to help you deal with your legal problem.

Who should use family law summary advice?

Family law summary advice can include general information and direction to resources if you:

  • have a question regarding separation or divorce that you think a lawyer should answer
  • need help with separation and divorce or family law co-parenting issues
  • donít have a lawyer and want information about custody, access, child or spousal support
  • need information on the family court process, including mediation and collaborative lawyers
  • want to change an existing court order through a motion to change.

Calling for summary advice

Hereís what you can expect when you call:

  • Tell the representative if itís an emergency—such as the abduction of a child or involvement of Childrenís Aid Society or if you are experiencing violence—so your call can take priority

  • Have your documents and facts ready. If you need to change an order or agreement, you must have a copy of the documents

  • Make the call yourself. Only you can discuss your problem with the lawyer

  • Describe your problem so you can be directed to one of LAOís services such as duty counsel or the certificate program

There is no financial eligibility test for general information and referrals.