As challenging as these times are for our members, there is also a lot to celebrate. Access to justice resources are growing and evolving. Here are some that will help family mediators who work with unrepresented parties:

  1. Advice Counsel: Our clients can continue to access the free advice counsel services, whether they are in court or not, provided they meet the Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) eligibility requirements. Here is the link for that information. LAO also offers summary advice by phone for those who qualify at 1-800-668-8258. 
  1. Limited Scope Services Project: this is a little project that is growing by leaps and bounds with the LAO funding cut-backs. Although fee-for-service will not help those who cannot afford even unbundled legal advice, this is an invaluable resource for mediators whose client can afford to pay for some advice. The roster of lawyers has been trained to support clients in mediation or other dispute resolution processes in the most useful and cost-effective ways. To understand the project, read the feature in this month’s newsletter or connect to the project site for further information.
  1. Steps to Justice is an ever-improving legal resource for our clients, run by Community Legal Education Ontario. With detailed and current information including a live chat feature, this is a resource every mediator needs to have at their fingertips. Here it is.
  1. Family Law Guided Pathways: an essential resource for family mediators. An interactive, privacy-protected assisted Court Form completion tool, it helps clients navigate court forms for just about every proceeding other than a divorce, emergency motion or a motion to change a final order.  For our clients who are in court (while hopefully trying to settle out of court!) this website is indispensable. (The Guided Pathway for Filing Your Separation Agreement is also a tool that mediators should know about for when their clients settle.)
  1. The Information & Referral Coordinator in each court is accessible to provide information about community resources, support for victims of violence, interpretation services, local counselling, drug testing and family services, supervised access centre wait times, help finding legal advice, and useful referrals. Contact the IRC in your local Family Law Information Centre.
  1. Many community and law school legal clinics provide limited family law advice including document preparation and mediation/negotiation supports. All LAO funded clinics are now enforcing the LAO eligibility requirements. Your local IRC can provide more information about local clinics.
  1. The family court support worker program remains available to everyone, whether they are in court or not, with no income eligibility criteria required. This is an outstanding service for our clients who are victims of domestic violence, who can receive safety planning support and access to resources including legal support in some cases. Here is more information.

We hope these resources will be useful to our mediator members in their daily, hard work!

Leave a Reply