Legal Aid – Without Prejudice
You may get some help from a “duty counsel” at a family court
This is on a first come, first served basis, with cases being heard that day given priority. They usually can’t get into much detail if your case is lengthy because of limited time.
Applying for a legal aid certificate
Ontario legal aid has been under funded for many years. They are getting out of the family law business but the way they are doing it is based on their political interests, since they are funded in part by the ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ONTARIO and THE LAW SOCIETY OF UPPER CANADA.
At present Legal Aid is charging $25.00 for each application for a certificate. The fee is not charged if you are on public assistance.
The process is started when you attend a Legal Aid Office and fill out an application and provide proof of your financial affairs, such as a social assistance cheque stub, your bank book etc. Just because you have a job does not mean that you can not apply for Legal Aid.
The application takes 10 days and in the event that you do work you may have to appeal to a local area legal aid committee and enter a repayment plan to obtain a certificate.
While it is not generally known to the public is that applications are generally successful if you are female, with the children, or if you own property.
There is a point system in place wherein male applicants are not given the same weight as female applicants.
You are usually only allowed to change lawyers one time, but, that is not always the case. Be sure to check your certificate carefully, an unauthorized change of lawyers will likely result in the cancellation of your legal aid certificate.
Emergency certificates can be obtained if you can convince Legal Aid that the issue is an emergency.
Be advised that legal aid has been known to cancel a certificate at the last minute leaving you without a lawyer and they do not always state the reason.
You should also know that everything your legal aid lawyer does requires permission. One of the biggest problems with the legal aid system is that your lawyer works for legal aid and you do not have the right to information with respect to your bill.
What that means is that your lawyer can bill legal aid for things that have never happened and there is nothing you can do about it.
Revealing the usual fixed fees would also reveal why your lawyer won’t do much work on your case. Their remuneration is fixed and so will the amount of work that the lawyer is prepared to do on your case.
Legal aid rarely funds appeals