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FAMILY LAW - EXPANDING LEGAL SERVICE OPTIONS FOR FAMILIES

PROPOSED FAMILY LAW REFORMS - EXPANDING LEGAL SERVICE OPTIONS FOR FAMILIES

Ontario's Law Society is implementing the Family Law Action Plan to improve access to justice for Ontario families.  


BACKGROUND


In 2016, Ontario's Attorney General and the Law Society of Ontario Canada have asked Justice Annemarie Bonkalo to undertake a consultation to "Expand Legal Service Options for Families". Included in this consultation is a proposal to allow paralegals and other legal service providers, such as law students or law clerks, to deal with certain family matters.  


The Ministry consultation page can be accessed at this link.  The specific questions being asked by Justice Bonkalo were:

  1. What legal services are sought and provided in each type of family law case (e.g. divorce, custody and access), from beginning to end?
  2. What family legal services are currently provided by a person other than a lawyer (e.g. paralegals, law students, law clerks), whether independently or under the supervision of a lawyer?
  3. What family legal services are covered by legal aid? What family legal services are provided by duty counsel?
  4. Which legal service offerings (e.g. conducting legal research, preparing correspondence, appearing in court, etc.) could improve the family justice system if they were more widely available?
  5. If an appropriate framework is put in place, should persons other than lawyers, such as paralegals, be permitted to provide legal services in certain family law matters?
  6. If yes: a) which types of legal services (e.g. interviewing a client, preparing certain documents)?; b) in which types of family law matters (e.g. divorce, custody and access)?; c) with what safeguards (e.g. education, training, insurance, regulation and/or oversight)
  7. Should other people as well as lawyers provide legal aid services? What role could  these people play?
  8. Do you think there are certain types of family law cases or issues that would not be  suitable for persons other than lawyers to provide

Justice Bonkalo's report was released to the public in February of 2017.

 

Upon receipt of the "Bonkalo Report", the Law Society undertook a consultation to solicit the views of stakeholders on the 21 recommendations made in the report. 


Our responses can be found in the reports provided by our Family Law Committee and Paralegal Committee linked below.


If anyone wishes to comment further, please do not hesitate to contact Katie Robinette at Katie.Robinette@fola.ca  


USEFUL LINKS

The Ontario Family Law Limited Scope Services Project’s website (funded by a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario) has been designed to improve access to family justice for middle and lower income Ontarians by increasing the use of limited scope retainers, legal coaching and summary legal counsel in family law matters.


On the above site, you can find resources for family lawyers and other useful information.


Ontario's online filing service for joint divorce applications.


Interactive Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms (partnership with CLEO and MAG):

Forms for required for a joint or simple divorce

Forms for filing a separation agreement  

Guide: How to set up a Justice Services Online account (req'd to access the joint divorce online filing service).   

lso family law section