On December 1st, Convocation passed the Family Legal Service Provider (FLSP) licence. You can read the LSO Report here.
Following the vote, FOLA's Family Law Co-Chairs issued the following statement:
“FOLA is pleased with the approval of the Family Legal Service Provider (FLSP) by Convocation.
The proposal approved by Convocation addresses most of the concerns previously raised with respect to the FLSP licence and is a positive step forward in providing access to justice to people involved in family law matters across Ontario.
The FLSP, once implemented, will allow paralegals who complete specified training to assist clients with certain family law services. Those services include process navigation, completing applications for joint and uncontested divorce and motions to change for child support (based on the payor’s ‘line 150/T4 slip’ income and excluding special and extraordinary expenses), and responding to support proceedings and court appearance on motions to change (subject to the limitations previously described).
Family law is an area of law that remains under-served in many parts of the province, and we are optimistic that the FLSP will improve access to justice in this area. The three-year review of the FLSP will allow a reasonable period of time to assess the impact of the FLSP and make any necessary improvements.
FOLA thanks those benchers who shared thoughtful and constructive comments during today’s meeting of Convocation.”
In advance of February 2022's Convocation, FOLA, The Advocates’ Society, the Toronto Lawyers Association, and Family Lawyers Association issued a Joint Communiqué on the LSO’s FLSP licencing Report to Convocation in response to the LSO’s Report on Family Legal Services Provider Licence.
Thanks, in part, to this letter, the Access to Justice Committee Report on the FLSP Licence was pulled from agenda for the meeting of Convocation on February 24, 2022 saying that the "LSO will be considering next steps and how best to move access to legal services forward and will share further updates as they move ahead".
In June 2020, the Law Society’s Access to Justice Committee invited lawyers, paralegals, legal organizations and members of the public to provide comments on a FLSP Licensing model.
The proposed scope of permissible activities, required competencies and outline of the training program were detailed in the Access to Justice Committee: Family Legal Services Provider Licence Consultation Paper.
Following extensive consultations with Law Association members, FOLA presented the Law Society with our Submission on November 30, 2020.
OTHER ASSOCIATION SUBMISSIONS
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Effective January 17, 2022, the Law Society, in partnership with the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice, is launching a pilot project which will allow eligible lawyer licensing candidates (including candidates completing their work placements as part of an integrated practice curriculum program at Lakehead or Ryerson) to attend to an increased number of matters related to family law cases without first needing permission of the court pursuant to rule 4(1)(c) of the Family Law Rules.
A defined scope and set of safeguards have been implemented to ensure the integrity of the courts, to protect the public and to ensure eligible licensing candidates are supported and to deliver a successful outcome for this pilot project.
The Law Society is in the process of developing materials which will provide guidance to eligible licensing candidates, the judiciary and articling/LPP supervisors/principals taking part in the pilot project. Communications to these audiences will be rolling out over the remainder of the year through to the launch date across our corporate communications channels.
This pilot project is intended to provide eligible lawyer licensing candidates with increased opportunities to appear in court on family law matters while providing Ontarians with increased access to more affordable family law legal services.
In Spring 2021, MAG launched an innovative family pilot to help get simpler cases to conclusion more quickly.
The pilot is already available in Barrie and Muskoka, Cornwall, and Ottawa, as well as the Northeast and Northwest centres. Additional centres are expected to be added in early 2022.
Parties in the above locations may now, on consent, choose to participate in a Binding JDR hearing to reach a final resolution of their family law dispute more quickly and through less formal processes.
Have a look at some helpful resources the Simcoe Law Association has put together here.
UPDATE: MAG REVIEW OF FAMILY AND CIVIL LEGISLATION, REGULATIONS, AND PROCESSES
During June and July 2019, Lindsey Park, MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General, led a review of Family and Civil Legislation, Regulations, and Processes. In addition to hosting consultation sessions across the province, the government accepted written submissions.
You can read FOLA's submission here.
You can read the TLA's Proposals for Family Law Reform here.
The HELP Toolkit: Identifying and Responding to Family Violence for Family Law Legal Advisers is now available on the Department of Justice Canada website.
The toolkit provides practical guidance to help legal advisers identify and respond to family violence in their family law cases.
The “HELP” approach is based on new and existing research on:
· Family violence in the family law context;
· The current practices and needs of legal advisers in relation to identifying and responding to family violence with family law clients; and
· The needs of family law clients who have experienced family violence.
The development of the HELP toolkit was supported by many people across the country, including experts in family law and family violence, legal advisers, frontline service providers, the Canadian Bar Association’s Family Law Section, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
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 site, you can find resources for family lawyers and other useful Information.
PLUS: the Project has waived the requirement that is a mandatory pre-requisite to joining the roster to require that lawyers watch the webinar in groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, you now have the ability to complete the mandatory training alone with a request that the viewer has a quick check-in with the project manager to facilitate registration and an opportunity to have questions answered.
Lawyers who have 3+ years of experience with a minimum of 30% in family law can register for free after doing the 2 hour webinar.
If you are looking for ways to increase member engagement during the pandemic (and to help promote participation in this important access to justice initiative), why not run a contest? Challenge a neighbouring law association for a signup duel! FOLA would offer to be the neutral judge.
If you are interested in competing against another association, just let Katie know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will help get both associations some information (suggested tweets, images, newsletter blurb, etc) to get you started, and FOLA will announce and recognize the winner(s) on social media!
To see the roster of family lawyers who have already signed up for the project, click here.
MAG is pleased to share that Community Legal Education Ontario’s Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms tool continues to expand.
In addition to helping users complete the forms required to apply for a simple or joint divorce and file a separation agreement with the court, the tool now leads users through many forms required to apply for corollary relief, including custody, access, support, property division, and a restraining order (with or without a divorce claim).
Family Claims Online and Guided Pathways are complementary online services that aim to strengthen the Ontario family justice system by making it more efficient and easier to use.
In Ontario, you can apply to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for a divorce.
You can file online for a::
Before you submit your online application, make sure you qualify and have all of the required documents.
In 2016, Ontario's Attorney General and the Law Society of Ontario Canada asked Justice Annemarie Bonkalo to undertake a consultation to "Expand Legal Service Options for Families". Included in this consultation was 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.
Justice Bonkalo's report was released to the public in February of 2017.