The point at which each party decides to hire legal representation is an important milestone in the separation process as it marks the point at which they have included the assistance of a knowledgeable third party who can help them through the confusing, yet life changing, process.
It can often be difficult for people to find a lawyer, especially if they have never been involved with the legal system before. One of the best ways to find a lawyer is through referrals from friends or family members. However, there are multiple services and sources for finding a lawyer or obtaining legal advice:
Community Legal Clinics:
Community legal clinics are able to provide legal services in areas such as housing, , income support, human rights, immigration, employment insurance and workers’ compensation to individuals with low-income. Some clinics may also provide assistance in regards to education law, wills and power of attorney. If you visit the Legal Aid Ontario website or call Legal Aid Ontario, you will be able to find the nearest community legal clinic to you.
Law Society of Upper Canada:
The LSUC website is a great resource to find information on finding and working with a lawyer.
You can visit their website at: www.lsuc.on.ca.
Legal Aid Ontario:
Based on an individual’s financial means and income, the Ontario government may provide funding for certain legal services. If you meet the financial requirements, the government may provide you with a Legal Aid Certificate that can be used to retain a lawyer and obtain legal assistance and advice. However, there is sometimes a backlog due to high demand and not all lawyers will accept legal aid. If you contact the Legal Aid Office, they will be able to provide you with a list of lawyers who accept Legal Aid Certificates.
You can contact them at: 1-800-668-8258.
Legal Advice for Those Affected by Domestic Violence:
Legal Aid Ontario can provide authorization for a two hour consultation with a Family Law lawyer through a form called “Advice Lawyer Family Violence Authorization.” Community legal clinics, women’s shelters and student legal aid societies should have these forms available to women who have suffered abuse. You can call Legal Aid Ontario or contact the women’s shelter in your community for the location and phone number of nearest resource to obtain these forms.
The Office of the Children’s Lawyer:
The Office of the Children’s Lawyer will provide court-appointed legal representation for individual’s under the age of 18.
Advocacy Centre for the Elderly
This agency is able to provide legal advice on issues such as elder abuse, home care, nursing homes and powers of attorney to low-income seniors over the age of 60.
You can contact them at: 416-598-2656 or visit their website at: www.advocacycentreelderly.org.
ARCH Disability Law Centre
The ARCH has an accessible library of materials on disability-related issues that is open to the public. Their mandate is to provide legal information to people with disabilities, and some representation in precedent-setting cases that involve disability issues.
You can contact them at: 1-866-482-2724 or visit their website at: www.archdisabilitylaw.ca.
Centre for the Addiction and Mental Health
The focus of this centre is to provide support, treatment and education for individuals with mental health and addiction problems and their families. They provide publications on youth and addiction along with information on drug and alcohol policies in Ontario schools through their website: www.camh.net/index.html.
You can also contact them at: 1-800-463-6273.
Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO):
Their objective at CLEO is to provide clear-language legal education and information materials for low-income and disadvantaged individuals in Ontario. All of their print publications are free and address issues in many areas of law such as family, domestic violence, social assistance, housing and immigration and refugee law. All of CLEO’s publications are also available online and most of their materials are available in both French and English.
You can contact CLEO at: 416-408-4420 or visit their website at: www.cleo.on.ca
The Law Office of Russell I Alexander, Collaborative Family Lawyers:
The lawyers at Russell I Alexander focus exclusively on Family Law and offers pre-separation legal advice in addition to helping clients who are going through a separation and/or a divorce. This office assists clients with family-related issues including custody and access, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, separation agreements and enforcement of court orders. Their lawyers negotiate settlements for their clients, and, if a fair and reasonable settlement cannot be achieved, they prepare and argue motions and trials.
You can contact them at: 905-655-6335 or through their Lindsay office at 705-324-0111. You can also visit their website at www.russellalexander.com/.