2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: January/February

To keep you informed, here are some key changes and updates made to Clicklaw in January and February (plus one March bonus):

Jan-Feb | Mar-Apr | May-Jun | Jul-Aug | Sep-Oct | Nov-Dec


Going to (Provincial) Court
by Provincial Court of BC

Most people attending court are nervous, but knowing what to expect can help. Here are answers to some of the questions you may have, depending on why you’re going to court.

Common Question: What if I want legal help for only part of my (family law) problem?

Unbundled legal services may be an option for those who want the advice and assistance of a family lawyer, but for whom hiring one from beginning to end is too expensive. Unlike the traditional full-representation model, a lawyer providing unbundled legal services works on, and charges you for, only those tasks that you agree to in advance. Read more at the Common Question page and see lawyers/paralegals who offer unbundled services on the Roster page.

Mothers Leaving Abusive Partners: Information on Custody and Access for Women with Children
by Legal Services Society and YWCA Vancouver

This updated resource contains information on: what abuse is, how to protect yourself and your children, what the courts can do, deciding parenting arrangements, and where to get help and support. Includes a checklist of what to take with you when you leave an abusive relationship.

Court rules, forms and self-help guides to court procedures

All links to court forms changed this February as Ministry websites were redesigned. Our flow chart that helps you find the forms you may need when going to court (among other things) and has been updated with the latest links.

Service: BWSS Drop-In Family Law Information and Referral Clinic
by Battered Women Support Services

This clinic is designed to provide legal information to women who have urgent matters in family law proceedings; legal information, legal referrals and legal advocacy support will be provided during one to one appointments.

Starting a Franchise in B.C.
by BC Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction

This resource covers: What is a Franchise?, Franchisee Checklist, Questions to Ask when purchasing a franchise, Q&A on the new Franchises Act that came into force on February 1, 2017.

An Agenda for Justice
by Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch

The CBABC presents a series of reforms and recommendations aimed at improving access to justice for all British Columbians. An effective justice system is one that actively supports the ability of families, communities and businesses to evolve and thrive.

A Vision for Publicly Funded Legal Aid in British Columbia (March Bonus!)
by Law Society of BC

This report prepared for Benchers by the Law Society’s Legal Aid Task Force concludes that legal aid is a crucial part of the proper administration of justice in a free and democratic society. In a society based on the rule of law, every person must have equal access to the justice system. The report provides a brief history of legal aid in BC, sets out the need for a principled vision, and makes a number of recommendations to realize the Law Society’s Vision for Public Legal Aid in BC.

Stay informed:

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Justice Access Centres (JACs) – Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo

What can JACs help you with?

Family and civil law issues: separation, divorce, income security, employment, housing and debt.

A range of information and services are available, designed to help you find an early and affordable solution.

If you don’t live in Vancouver, Victoria or Nanaimo, see “How Can I Get in Touch?” at the end of this post for phone numbers you can call for information.

Specific services that JACs offer:

freepik_discussion
Get help with and information about court forms, civil legislation, court procedures, mediation, and more.

You can:

  • meet with intake staff who assess your needs;
  • get informed about the Family Law Act, the Divorce Act, and various other civil-related legislation;
  • get informed about the different levels of court and related court procedures;
  • get a referral to a mediator (family justice counsellors and other mediation options), other dispute resolution professionals, legal services and community resources;
  • access Provincial and Supreme Court forms; and
  • get help with court forms and access computers and dedicated staff for assistance in the Self Help Resource Room (In Nanaimo, if you would like self-help assistance, book an appointment with an interviewer in advance. You can also get help with simple forms on the phone.)

Help from Partnering Agencies at some JAC locations:

01_Clicklaw_30pxMediate BC Society:

Practical, accessible, and affordable choices to prevent, manage and resolve non-family civil disputes (any kind of dispute outside of: separation and divorce, personal injury, child protection or criminal matters).

Vancouver and Victoria have an onsite Mediation Advisor who can explore and help connect people to civil mediators; Nanaimo clients are referred to Victoria.

01_Clicklaw_30pxLegal Services Society:

Family Duty Counsel (FDC) and Family Advice Lawyer (FAL) services (Provincial and Supreme Courts) are available for those who are seeking legal advice in relation to family matters and who do not qualify for legal representation through Legal Aid. FDC and FAL can provide advice about:

  • parenting time or contact / access;
  • guardianship / custody, parenting responsibilities;
  • child support;
  • applications, variations of child support, enforcement;
  • tentative settlement agreements;
  • court procedures; and
  • property (limited advice).

Note: FDC/FAL will not take on your whole case or represent you at a trial.

Aboriginal Community Legal Worker services are available in Nanaimo.

01_Clicklaw_30pxFamily Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP):

FMEP is a BC Ministry of Justice service that helps families and children entitled to spousal support or child support under a maintenance order or agreement.

The Vancouver JAC has an onsite outreach worker to help with the process, and provides information about enrolment, enforcement or changing an order.

Vancouver and Nanaimo JACs only.
01_Clicklaw_30pxCredit Counselling Society:

Free and confidential help for consumers. A Counsellor will review your monthly budget, including: income, expenses and debt payments, and can provide information and guidance to help you make informed, financial decisions.

Vancouver JAC only.

01_Clicklaw_30pxAccess Pro Bono (APB):

APB offers a number of programs which are offered onsite at the JAC (by appointment only, see contact info at end of post):

  • Legal Advice Clinic – Volunteer lawyers provide 30 minute free legal advice appointments for civil and family law issues. Call for financial criteria.
  • Wills Clinic Program – In partnership with the federal Department of Justice and the Provincial Ministry of Justice, APB operates a Wills clinic for low-income seniors (ages 55+) and people with terminal illnesses.
  • Court Form Preparation Clinic (Paralegal Program) – Vancouver JAC only. In partnership with Amici Curiae; support for self-represented litigants who need assistance in preparing BC Supreme Court, BC Court of Appeal, and BC Human Rights Tribunal documents.

How can I get in touch?

  • The Self Help Resource Rooms are in-person ONLY (no telephone assistance).
  • Reception and Intake Services can be reached by phone or drop-in.
jac_vancouverVancouver JAC

Located at the Vancouver Provincial Courthouse, #290-800 Hornby Street.

Hours are M-F, 8am-5pm, extended hours until 7pm on Wednesday by appointment, until 5:15pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Self-Help Resource room is open 8:30-4pm.

Call 604.660.2084 or toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to 604.660.2084. The centre serves Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.

jac_victoriaVictoria JAC

Located at 225 – 850 Burdett Avenue.

Hours are M-F 8am-5:30pm, extended hours until 6:30 on Thursday. Self-Help Resource Room is open 9-4pm.

Call 250.356.7012 or toll-free at 1-800-663-7867 and ask to be connected to 250.356.7012. The centre serves Victoria and the surrounding south Vancouver Island and Gulf Island communities. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.

jac_nanaimoNanaimo JAC

Located at 302 – 65 Front St.

Hours are M-F 8-5:30pm, with extended hours on Wednesday until 7pm by appointment only.

Call 250 741-5447 or 1-800-578-8511. The centre serves Nanaimo and the surrounding mid-Island communities. If you can’t travel to the centre, call for information.

Note: JACs are not able to provide support or services for criminal issues, small claims court forms and filings, and some other specific legal solutions.

Get informed with JACs:

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Image credit to Freepik.com

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.

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.