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Family law

Introduction

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) may be able to provide help with family issues such as domestic violence, child custody, access and support, child protection, restraining orders, equalization claims, and property division, at all levels of court, including trial and appellate work. LAO may provide assistance in retaining a lawyer if applicants meet eligibility requirements.

  • Legal Aid Ontario puts a high priority on victims of domestic violence and has special services to help them. People living with domestic violence are urged to call for help immediately.
  • People who are experiencing violence or the effects of violence and abuse, and who are in need of urgent assistance, can get authorization for a 2-hour consultation with a private lawyer through some shelters and Community Legal Clinics.
  • LAO may be able to provide assistance in "contested matters" (when parents or guardians cannot agree on an issue concerning their children) for child custody, access, and support.
  • LAO does not provide coverage to change a spousal or child support order unless there are significant changes in circumstances.
  • To apply for legal assistance for a family law matter, you must visit a Legal Aid Ontario office to complete an application that determines if your legal matter is eligible and you must pass a financial eligibility test.
  • If you qualify for a Legal Aid Certificate, which outlines the services that legal aid will provide to you, LAO may be able to pay your lawyer for some or all of your legal issues.
  • In some cases, you may be required to pay back LAO for some or all of your legal fees.
  • Family Law Offices are staffed with experienced family lawyers and paralegals that can assist clients who LAO has helped to retain a lawyer.
  • Family Law Information Centres offer free assistance and information related to family law issues and have been established in most courts that deal with family law matters.
  • The Advice Lawyer Service, provided by LAO at Family Law Information Centres, offers out-of-court support, including general advice and review of legal documents.
  • Mediation is available to people who would like to resolve family matters outside of the courtroom.
  • Duty Counsel can give immediate legal assistance to low-income people who appear in court without a lawyer.
  • Some legal clinics run by Student Legal Aid Services Societies (SLASS) may also be able to assist you with your family legal problem

Learn more

  1. Decide if your legal problem relates to getting assistance with a family law matter.
  2. Read Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to learn more about family law.
  3. Follow the Steps for instructions on how to get assistance with a family law matter.
  4. Review the Resources to find new and in-depth legal information about family law issues.
  5. See the Links for news and other helpful websites.

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DisclaimerLast updated 07/30/2009