Public Libraries and Nidus Personal Planning Events

Recently, Courthouse Libraries BC’s LawMatters program partnered with Clicklaw contributor Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry to celebrate their Personal Planning Month with a series of events. LawMatters asked public libraries to host some Nidus events and 9 libraries signed up for a series of 15 public events, including presentations and webinars for the public. Over 400 people attended the free events that explained Representation Agreements and other planning tools.

The launch of the series was held at Vancouver Public Library and attracted over 250 people. A panel of speakers included an innovative example of using audience participation to get the message across. Watch the video of “Gonna Get a Rep Agreement” sung with ukelele to “Sentimental Journey” – it was a crowd hit!

Capacity crowds also attended presentations by Nidus staff at the Burnaby, West Vancouver and Richmond Public Libraries.

Other libraries throughout the province were able to host several Nidus webinars for the public. The webinars brought crowds as large as 50 people to libraries in New Westminster, Kitimat, Victoria, Greenwood, North Vancouver District and Whistler. Nidus presenter Joanne Taylor encouraged questions from the audience through virtual chat.

Comments from webinar host librarians included:

“Feedback from the audience overall was very positive, and several people said that Joanne’s presentation was easy to follow given how complex the subject was. I especially appreciated Joanne showing her face briefly to say “hello” and put a face to the voice.”

“We had 50 people attend our webinar. I didn’t have any technological glitches reported to me, which is good! I think there was a fair bit of community interest in this webinar, so I’m glad we were able to host. There was a lot of interest in the next webinar about Representation Agreements.”

“Audience response – all were appreciative. One Credit Union employee attended and said she had never heard of Nidus, and that the info would be useful to her at work–I’m guessing maybe they get requests to access accounts by family or friends of people with dementia and now can direct them to Nidus to get a representation agreement.”

Librarians also collected some feedback from patrons:

“This was an extremely useful program. I was unaware of Representation Agreements and signed up for the workshop because I am thinking of updating my will. This workshop provided invaluable information on a topic everyone should be aware of. As a person now retired and feeling the pinch of a lower income, to be able to access this legal information at no charge was most helpful.”

“I appreciated being given information from a legitimate source in an environment I trusted. No selling or unwanted advice given! I would be interested in attending similar events.”

“I found the discussion session very useful. It was much better than watching a webinar on my own.”

Nidus offers a regular monthly series of free webinars, and any library or individual can register for future events on the training page. Nidus also offers training to the intermediary and legal communities, and a well-received session was held recently for Access Pro Bono lawyers.


Do It Yourself Separation Guide Now Available

LSSSeparationAgreementsEarlier this month, the Legal Services Society launched a 7 step separation agreement guide. The separation guide helps you create your own separation agreement with information and instructions that help you choose your own options and fill-in-the-blanks to complete your agreement.


How to write your own separation agreement is based on a precedent manual produced by the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC (CLEBC).

The new guide results in a basic personalized separation agreement, which can be filed at the court registry as a first step towards a divorce.

Before you begin filling out the form, LSS provides information about separation agreements and technical instructions to get you started.

The online form is divided into sections with help on how to fill each section. A special feature allows you to choose relevant paragraphs, and fill in the necessary dates and names. After completing each section, the agreement can be saved into a separate file to protect your privacy.

Currently, the guide contains sections on parenting, child and spousal support, and debts. In late August, LSS will add a section on property and pensions.


Supreme Court Family Law Forms: New Fillable Forms from the Legal Services Society

flws thumbnailMore help with filling out Supreme Court family forms is now available from the Legal Services Society’s Family Law website. LSS now features 23 new and improved Supreme Court family law forms in a fillable Word format available on the LSS Family Law in BC website. These new forms, such as the Notice of Joint Family Claim, allow you to add and save your own information into the forms and give some instructions on how to fill them out.

You can find these forms through Clicklaw on the LSS Court Forms page. The forms were created in the last few months and were refined and tested to be used in a range of family law cases, including divorces, changing child support, or changing parenting arrangements. To provide further help with filling out these forms , LSS has also created instructions and tips that will help you fill out your forms quickly and correctly. Some of the more complicated forms also have additional, more detailed instructions and tips.

If you need more assistance with your court forms, LSS also provides a list of organizations that will provide more hands-on support.

These forms were created with funding from The Law Foundation of BC.


Updated Sponsorship Information in Legal Help for British Columbians

legal help

A few months ago YWCA Legal Educator Andrea Vollans wrote to Clicklaw and asked if someone could write a factsheet clarifying the rule for conditional permanent residence when a child is born after an application for permanent residence. The information was not available in any of the resources she had checked.

We contacted the Legal Help for British Columbians Clicklaw Wikibook legal reviewer Rochelle Appleby, who was able to update the page “My husband sponsored me and we have now separated” to include Andrea’s suggestion, and also add some information about a claim of abuse or neglect. This update is an example of how Clicklaw Wikibooks can respond quickly to a user request in addition to our regular updates concerning legislative changes.


Updated Clicklaw Resources for the New Wills, Estates and Succession Act


It was officially Make a Will Week in British Columbia last week, as the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act came into force on March 31, 2014.

There are a number of resources on Clicklaw that have now been updated for the new legislation:


Employment Law for Temporary Foreign Workers

The same laws and regulations that protect all British Columbians also apply to temporary foreign workers. However, as temporary foreign workers, there may be some restrictions on their terms of employment. For example, a temporary foreign worker is usually restricted to working for a specific employer.

For workers who aren’t familiar with employment law in BC, it can be tricky trying to tell the difference between what may be an actual restriction and what is against the law. Two organizations, MOSAIC and the Employment Standards Branch, have resources available on Clicklaw that can help.

MOSAIC is a multilingual non-profit organization that supports immigrant and refugee communities and has produced the following resources with information for temporary foreign workers, available in four additional languages (Chinese (simplified), Korean, Punjabi, Spanish):

Additionally, MOSAIC has a Legal Clinic for Temporary Foreign Workers.

The Employment Standards Branch has a series of employment fact sheets, including the resource Employment Standards for Foreign Workers, which is available in in PDF format in six additional languages (Chinese (traditional), French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog/Filipino). The resource describes what the law says about the rights of foreign workers, including payment of wages and what happens if employment ends.


New Resource! Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness


West Coast LEAF’s Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness is a plain language booklet that gives a general overview of some of the financial issues that arise during separation and divorce. The booklet provides tips for making sure a separation agreement is fair, discusses legal tools for protecting family property, and describes the law governing when the court can set aside an unfair agreement. While the legal information contained in the booklet applies to everyone, the booklet is geared towards women, who tend to face particularly critical financial challenges when they separate from a spouse.

Marital breakdown has a profound impact on many women’s economic security. Because of women’s primary responsibility for childcare and greater likelihood of leaving the paid labour force when their children are young, as well as the lack of affordable child care and continued pay inequity on the job, women earn less money overall. Lower earnings, combined with a lack of access to legal aid, make it much harder for women to access justice in family law cases.

Moreover, women may be denied information about the family finances and may not have access to important financial documents held by their ex-husbands. Language barriers and cultural taboos around women’s involvement in the family’s finances compound the challenges.

Separation Agreements: Your Right to Fairness seeks to provide crucial financial information to women who need it. We recently updated the booklet, in collaboration with the Legal Services Society (LSS), to reflect changes to the law resulting from the new Family Law Act. We are also partnering with LSS to translate the booklet into five additional languages (Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, and Traditional and Simplified Chinese), which will be available this spring.

Hard copies of the booklet can be ordered free from the Crown Publications Service.

Thank you to Laura Track, Legal Director from Clicklaw Contributor West Coast LEAF, for providing this article on their new resource. — Clicklaw Editorial Team


Court Forms – you have questions, we have answers!

Court rules, forms, and self-help guides to court proceduresEvery day, somewhere in BC, a person approaches a librarian and asks, “Can you help me find a court form?”

This seemingly simple question has so many potential answers. The court forms are different depending on whether the file is family or civil. They change completely depending on whether the action is in Provincial Court or Supreme Court. And getting help might mean finding the form you need, the rule that decides it or it might mean figuring out how to use it. It might mean all three.

I can only imagine how daunting that this would be for someone new to the legal system. And while there are excellent resources out there, sometimes you need signposts to get you there.

After assisting a number of people at the front desk and speaking with public librarians in different parts of BC, I starting thinking: what if we could direct people to a tool that would mimic the help a librarian at Courthouse Libraries would provide? If you weren’t sure where to go, could there be a single page to get you started using BC court forms?

I am so pleased to say that thanks to a fantastic team of people, Clicklaw now has a simple tool that does just this. You can find it in the footer on each page under Laws, Cases and Rules – Forms, Self-Help Guides, or through our new Common Question featured on the homepage, Where can I find the rules, forms and guides for court?

This simple flowchart allows people to start with the idea that they need help with a form and quickly get to the right resources. If someone is unsure of the answer to a question, we’ve built in some “I don’t knows” to try to help get them moved through and ultimately connected with the resources that will help.

Try it out. As with any new idea, we would love feedback. Let us know if it’s helping you (or your clients), or if there is something we could do better.

Thank you to everyone who made this happen. It was truly a team effort. It involved the work of a number of Courthouse Libraries BC staff and was only possible because of the resources of our outstanding Clicklaw contributor community.


Clicklaw Wikibook Author Cliff Thorstenson Visits the Merritt Public Library

Clicklaw Wikibook author Cliff Thorstenson and Merritt Branch Librarian Deborha Merrick
Clicklaw Wikibook author Cliff Thorstenson and Merritt Branch Librarian Deborha Merrick

Continuing the tradition of Clicklaw Wikibook authors visiting their local public librariesLegal Help for British Columbians author Cliff Thorstenson recently visited the Merritt Branch of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System. Local librarian Deborha Merrick told Cliff that she was pleased to add the latest edition of this very popular legal guide to her library’s legal information collection.

Written in plain language, the guide includes over 40 common legal problems faced by low income people, and outlines the first steps your client can take to address the problem. An annotated listing of over 60 referral resources is also included. The 2013 edition features updated information in family, welfare, employment insurance, and immigration law.

Cliff published the first edition of Legal Help for Rural British Columbians; A guide to help non-legal professionals make legal referrals for their clients in 2008. Recognizing that this guide would be a helpful addition to public library collections and training, the LawMatters program worked with Cliff and a team of volunteer editors to update the 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions. Since 2012, the guide has also been available in a wikibook format. This innovative format makes the online guide easy to search, easy to update by the author and editors, and easy for readers to download and print a recently updated version of a page, chapter, or the whole guide.

For readers who would like their own copy, both wikibooks Legal Help for British Columbians and JP Boyd on Family Law are now available as an e-pub for e-readers and mobile devices. Just look for the e-pub download information on the right hand side of the main page of each wikibook. We are planning to have an information page available soon that will explain how e-pubs work, and how they compare to a PDF version.


A Death in Your Family – A Clicklaw Wikibook Produced by People’s Law School

A Death in Your FamilyWhether expected or unexpected, a death in the family is always an emotionally charged event that involves a considerable amount of last minute arrangements, both logistical and legal, that family members must attend to. 

For example, you may wonder if there is a prescribed time to dispose of a body or who should you first notify of your loved one’s death?  Is an autopsy automatically performed?  What is the coroner’s role in this situation?  Also, you may be wondering how to honor a loved one’s wish to donate their organs to science.  Answers to all of these questions and more are now available in a comprehensive wikibook,  A Death in Your Family, published by the People’s Law School.   This resource was first published in 2007 and was available in PDF format until its wikibook release.  For more information on wikibook features, see Clicklaw Wikibooks

Clicklaw features a Common Question that also addresses this topic – What legal issues do I need to attend to when a family member dies?  It includes links to resources on making funeral arrangements, obtaining death certificates as well as guidelines on some of the costs involved.