The Top Free Resources for Navigating a Divorce
Ending a marriage is a difficult process and journey, and many are taking the path of self-representation in their family law case. According to a report released by Ryerson’s Legal Innovation Zone, it’s estimated that 80,00 – 130,000 new people begin family law proceedings each year without lawyers. If you’re choosing to go through the process without representation there are various resources, tools, websites and professionals that can help you prepare and effectively present your case. The outcome of your family court case will affect your life for years to come, so it’s vital that you prepare and arm yourself with the right knowledge and information.
If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to understand family law in Ontario and how it applies to your case. While researching it’s good to reflect, visualize, and think about your ideal outcome. Reviewing relevant family law legislation and rules that govern your case will help you understand what details will be important for the judge, and help you when filling out forms. There are a number of federal and provincial family law Acts and rules
At The Family Law Coach Resources section we’ve gathered the key legislation, Guidelines, and other relevant information you need to be sure you know the law and how it affects you with a brief explanation of what each is about.
Family Law Information Centre (FLIC) offices in court houses across Ontario provide information about separation, divorce, family law issues, family justice services, alternative forms of dispute resolution, local community resources and court processes. They provide pamphlets, publications, and a variety of information about legal services, the court process, and court forms. There are also designated times where you can speak to an Advice Lawyer from Legal Aid Ontario who can provide summary legal advice.
CLEO – Steps in a Family Law Case
The family law process can be challenging to fully understand. Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO) provides an interactive flow chart titled Steps in a Family Law Case. The flowchart can help you figure out where you are in the process. Additionally, it provides basic information about what happens and what you need to do at each step. CLEO also runs a website called Steps to Justice that provides step-by-step information about a wide variety of legal topics. The site includes checklists, fillable forms, and other helpful information.
The Attorney General website also has some other great resources such as:
Free Guide for Surviving Family Court
The Family Law Coach offers a free guide, How to Survive Family Court. Court can be a challenging place to navigate for any self rep, but especially when the other side has a lawyer with years of experience navigating the process. The guide provides tips and tricks for evening the playing field. The advice is focused in providing advice that will help you feel confident throughout the process.
Finding a lawyer to help you
The best advice for someone considering bringing a matter to court is to hire a full-service, traditional, family law lawyer. But not everyone can afford to do that. There are more and more people choosing to represent themselves. If you plan to represent yourself, then consider hiring a lawyer to get specific help along the way.
An increasing number of family law lawyers offering what’s called “unbundled” or “limited scope” services. You hire the lawyer to do just a part of what a full-service lawyer would do, and you remain in charge of your case. You could get help drafting your material or advice in how to best present your case. You could ask a lawyer to appear in court to speak for you or to carry out some negotiation. You could also use unbundled services to get a “second opinion” or to discuss the best strategies for you. Whatever it is, you work out with that lawyer what you want and what the cost will be.
The Family Law Coach is the only service in Ontario that limits itself to acting for self-represented litigants. We offer nothing but unbundled and limited scope services for legal advice and coaching to people acting for themselves at affordable fees. We do this entirely by phone and email – no office visits needed. You can reach us from wherever you are in Ontario. With a Family Law Coach lawyer, you keep control of the cost and get the assistance you want, when you want it.
Ontario’s Family Law Limited Scope Services Project has recently opened. Funded by The Law Foundation of Ontario, this site has a list of lawyers across Ontario providing unbundled services. Each lawyer needs to have done training and have been practicing family law for 3 years to be on the roster. Each lawyer ahs a different approach, but they all offer unbundled services.
Invest in yourself
Take the time to do the research you need to understand your case. But be careful about where you get your information. A Google search might bring up various sites, but they might not cover family in Ontario.
Do as much preliminary research as you can, but we strongly urge you to check with a lawyer to be sure you fully understand your legal requirements. Calling a lawyer for free advice or for a free consultation may leave you with a misunderstanding. That’s why, at The Family Law Coach, we recommend that if you have a family law matter, whether it is or isn’t in court, you contact a lawyer offering unbundled services to get consultation.