Since the Family Law Action Plan was approved in December 2017, the Law Society has carried out a significant amount of work in the development of a licensing framework that will permit paralegals and others to assist the public with certain family legal services. The Family Law Working Group—a bencher group established by Convocation—is responsible for overseeing the development of the licence.
The first step in building the licensing framework is the determination of the scope of permissible activities. Consultation has been key to the development of that scope, which is ongoing.
UPDATE - Family Claims Online Service
On February 25, 2019, the Family Claims Online service (www.Ontario.ca/familyclaims) will expand to enable Ontarians to initiate simple divorce applications online at any time. The existing joint divorce online filing process is also being enhanced to permit property claims on consent.
The service will continue to allow users to pay court fees online securely by credit or debit card and enable users to create profiles in order to save filings in progress and view the history of their filings.
This expansion follows the successful province-wide launch of the service in November 2018.
Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms
The ministry is also 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). To learn more, visit https://www.cleo.on.ca/en/projects/guided-pathways-family-court-forms.
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.
Ontario's Law Society is implementing the Family Law Action Plan to improve access to justice for Ontario families.
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:
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
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.
Interactive Guided Pathways to Family Court Forms (partnership with CLEO and MAG):
Guide: How to set up a Justice Services Online account (req'd to access the joint divorce online filing service).