What Happens with Parenting of the Children in Cases of Wife Abuse?

One of the significant changes brought about by the new Family Law Act is in the area of family violence, as briefly described in this Vancouver Sun article. In the words of BC Attorney General Shirley Bond, the new Act is about “ensuring children’s interest and safety are given the utmost priority”. Our newly updated common question directs you to three publications that can help you get started on understanding how the new law would deal with the subject matter.

The common question “What happens with parenting of the children in cases of wife abuse?” features the following resources on Clicklaw:

You may also want to check out Clicklaw’s common question: I want to learn more about the new BC Family Law Act. It features helpful resources for navigating the new BC Family Law Act.

Free Legal Advice on Dial-A-Lawyer Day

Gearing up for Law Week 2013 the BC Branch of Canadian Bar Association will be offering free legal consultation sessions as part of its Dial-A-Lawyer Day, happening on Saturday, April 13.  Law Week is a terrific initiative that aims to raise awareness about our legal system, recognizing the dedicated legal professionals involved and it aims to help the public understand how the justice system works. 

 The Dial-A-Lawyer event makes legal advice accessible.  If you live in British Columbia and you have a question about a legal issue in the following 6 areas of law – family, wills & estates, tort & motor vehicle accident, immigration, business or criminal – you can call (604.687.3221 or 1.800.663.1919) and speak with a lawyer for up to 15 minutes for free

 While we are on the topic of free legal advice take a look at other options available to members of the public seeking an alternative to costly legal services.

New and Revised Publications from the Legal Services Society

By Nate Prosser (guest blogger)
Legal Services Society (Legal Aid BC)

This week saw a shake-up in family law as the new Family Law Act replaced the old Family Relations Act, and a slew of legal changes came into force. As a result of these changes, many of the family law publications produced before the act came into force are no longer legally accurate.

With this in mind, the Legal Services Society (LSS) has revised all of its family law and child protection publications. This included creating many new publications, from booklets to fact sheets and self help-guides, and revising more than 20 booklets, brochures, flow charts, and fact sheets. In addition to these, all information on the Family Law in BC website has been updated to reflect the new Family Law Act.

A list of new and revised resources can be found on the Family Law in BC website. All of the updated publications are available online and in print now (see also Families & children and Abuse & family violence in the publications section of the LSS website).

If you have any copies of these publications dated earlier than March 18, 2013, please recycle and replace them with the updated editions, as they are now incorrect.

Helpful Resources for Navigating the New BC Family Law Act

Confused about the new BC Family Law Act?  The new BC Family Law Act is in force as of today (March 18, 2013), and the Legal Services Society has published three very helpful new resources that explain the many changes. We’ve combined these resources in  a new common question:

I want to learn more about the new BC Family Law Act

Here is what you can expect to find in the new LSS publications:

  • The Guide to the New BC Family Law Act includes information about language changes, making agreements to stay out of court, parenting arrangements, child and spousal support, dividing property and debt, family law protection orders, and moving with children.
  • The FAQ pamphlet, presented in a Q & A format, addresses how the new law affects family matters, touching on issues pertaining to children, property and debt, and support payments.  In also highlights some of the changes to legal terminology.
  •  The Quick Reference Tool is a set of easy-to-understand visual cue cards that set out to explain the basics of the new family law and direct users to necessary next steps and resources.

JESS – A Virtual Assistant for BC Supreme Court Matters

JESS, the Justice Education Society’s electronic diagnostic tool, is now available on the BC Supreme Court website.  Self-representing litigants dealing with civil, family law and criminal matters now have access to personalized free legal help via online chat and over the phone.  

 The civil matters component of JESS offers practical advice including tips on preparing a case, effective note taking methods and how to conduct yourself in court.  Navigating JESS is easy – you simply zero in on a specific stage of the litigation process, e.g. Before Trial, After Trial, to obtain a list of booklets covering that particular topic.  For example, the booklet titled Case Planning Conference describes the process of how parties come together before the trial to discuss and plan how the case will proceed.  Once the trial is in progress other questions may arise, such as what evidence must be presented in Court?  Answers to these questions can be found in the booklet titled Proving Your Case in Supreme Court.  

 Last but not least, check out Clicklaw’s own Common Question – I am trying to prepare a Supreme Court case – for additional resources on this topic.

Lawyer-Client Interaction: Law Society of BC’s Publications Dealing with Billing, Filing Complaints and Lawyers’ Code of Conduct

You are facing a legal problem and you have reached a point where you decide to hire a lawyer.  You want to make sure you use their time well, but how do you do that?    The Law Society of British Columbia has published a number of helpful guides to assist clients who are seeking legal assistance and generally trying to learn more about lawyers’ professional code of conduct.

You and Your Lawyer is a brochure that describes the working relationship between lawyer and client.  Here you will find out about when to seek legal services, how to prepare for your initial meeting with your lawyer, how lawyers set their fees as well as ways to reduce your legal costs.

 Sometimes, you may have a complaint about your lawyer. Complaints About Lawyers explains what types of complaints the Law Society can investigate, and how to go about filing a complaint. It’s also a good source for finding out about professional standards and ethics governing lawyers.       

 Clicklaw offers complementary resources on this topic.  Check out our commonly asked questions:  My lawyer’s bill is too high , How do I make a complaint against my lawyer?

BC Law Institute’s Featured Projects

Do you know that Clicklaw has the Reform & Research section? It connects British Columbians to publications from organizations that work to improve and reform the laws, as well as to advance innovative solutions to meet legal needs in BC. One of them is our contributor BC Law Institute, the effective successor of the now-defunct BC Law Reform Commission. They have recently made three of their current projects available on Clicklaw.

  • Technology, Remoteness, Disability & Evidence Project aims to generate practice support materials for lawyers and others about technologies to remove or reduce the disadvantages that persons with disabilities or those living in remote areas face when required to give evidence in court or before tribunals.
  • Franchise Act Project considers the need for franchise legislation in BC and, in doing so, reviews the Uniform Franchises Act adopted by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada in 2005. The Act’s key provisions include dealing with disclosure, the duty of fair dealing, rights to rescission, damages for misrepresentation, and dispute resolution.
  • Rationalizing and Harmonization of BC Common-Law Tests of Capacity. The project studies common-law tests of mental capacity, the legal threshold after which a person is considered mentally incapable in the eyes of the law. The goals are to study and illuminate selected common-law tests of capacity, to determine where the current law has shortcomings that require modernization or harmonization, and to recommend legislative reforms to address those shortcomings.

Check out more reports from BC Law Institute, or learn more about BC’s legal needs & innovative solutions on Clicklaw.

Updated Common Question on Refugee Claims

We have recently updated Clicklaw’s common question entitled “We want to start a refugee claim in Canada” to include two new resources from our contributor Legal Services Society. In addition, it also includes a new version of Refugee Hearing Preparation: A Guide for Refugee Claimants, from Kinbrace Community Society.


Legal Services Society published the new publications shortly after changes to Canada’s asylum system came into effect on December 15th last year.

More resources on the subject are available on Clicklaw under the subtopic “refugees“. Another useful resource is the page “I want to claim refugee status in Canada” in the Legal Help for British Columbians Clicklaw wikibook.

JESS – a virtual assistant for navigating BC Small Claims Court matters

Are you disputing a car repair bill, pleading with a carpenter to complete your unfinished kitchen reno, or seeking damages for personal injury for $25,000 or under, all by yourself?  Then JESS may be the resource for you.  Launched on January 10, 2013, JESS is a pilot project developed by Justice Education Society and is now available on SmallClaimsBC.ca website.

It is a virtual assistant that offers guidance on what steps you may take in order to move your case forward.  JESS delivers expertise by combining interactive video scripts, website text and multiple choice questions that offer a much needed roadmap for people going to small claims court.

This latest project is based on a legacy of resources – legal publication, websites and instructional videos – created by Justice Education Society, an organization that strives to improve access to British Columbia’s justice system.

If you would like to inquire further about this program visit the Society’s website at www.justiceeducation.ca or explore some of Clicklaw’s own resources dealing with small claims matters.

Client Data and Privacy Laws for Small Organizations Event

The BC Civil Liberties Association and the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association held an event on January 22nd titled “Privacy Issues Facing Small Organizations”. This informative breakfast workshop described the basics that small organizations need to know about client data privacy laws, such as:

  • Good privacy policy creates and maintains trust with your clients. Clients need to know what level of confidentiality you can offer.
  • Valid consent includes both express and implied.
  • Your clients have the legal right to withdraw consent at any point, even after it has been given, and even if it will effect service provision.
  • The Personal Information Protection Act protects your right to collect, use, and disclose client information, but also places limits on how and to what extent those practices occur.
  • Once you collect data from your clients, it is in your control, even if it is not in your custody. You are responsible for data disposal. If you use a 3rd party data storage provider, then you need to know how secure the data is.
  • The Information and Privacy Commissioner of B.C. oversees compliance with provincial privacy laws.
  • A paper titled “BC Civil Liberties Association’s Online Communications Strategy” was distributed. Further resources are available at the Clicklaw topic Privacy & access to information.