2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: September/October

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in September and October:

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


The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBA BC)

Seventeen (17) Dial-A-Law scripts have been updated in October 2017. For a complete list of these resources, see their listing here (sorted by “last reviewed date”).

Legal Services Society

  • First Nations Court Duty Counsel
    Duty counsel is now available at the newest location of First Nations Court: Nicola Valley Indigenous Court (Merritt).
  • Your Gladue Rights
    This new booklet explains Gladue rights, rights under the Criminal Code that apply to anyone who identifies as Aboriginal. Gladue rights can apply at bail and sentencing hearings.
  • Your Welfare Rights: Applying for Welfare Online
    New fact sheet about how to apply for welfare using your computer or mobile phone. Describes the three stages involved and the steps you follow at each stage. Expands on information printed in the booklet How to Apply for Welfare. Available in print and online.
  • Mothers Leaving Abusive Partners: Information on Custody and Access for Women with Children
    This booklet is now available in both traditional and simplified Chinese, French, Punjabi, and Spanish. Describes 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.

Wills & Estates Q&A
by People’s Law School

Questions and answers on wills and estates topics. Volunteer legal professionals provide answers to questions from the public relating to personal planning, wills, dealing with death, and settling an estate.

Future Planning Tool
by Plan Institute

This new online tool guides you through the steps of planning for a good life, including financial security, personal network building, estate planning, housing choices and supported decision-making.

Support Person Guidelines: Information Poster
by Provincial Court of BC

An informational poster to help explain the BC Provincial Court’s Support Person Guidelines.

Mothers Without Status
by YWCA Vancouver

This updated booklet is for service providers assisting “mothers without status”. They are women who are neither Canadian citizens nor permanent residents. It gives an overview of the issues they face and options they can take. It includes information on where to get help.

Legal Forms Workshop at Vancouver Public Library (Amici Curiae Programme)
by Law Courts Centre

Amici Curiae is offering free one-hour sessions with legal professionals who can help you fill out your forms. Get help with forms for court, human rights, employment issues, residential tenancy, and more. No legal advice will be provided. Anyone can make an appointment by calling: 778.522.2839 or by email: aclegal.vpl@gmail.com.

Northern Navigator
by South Peace Community Resources Society

A system for healing for families going through separation and/or divorce. The goal is to improve access to mediation and other services, provide guidance, direction, and information to families in the Peace. The program works with the Registry and Court so when directed by the Judge or when families choose on their own, families will be provided more options for accessing alternative dispute resolution methods (mainly mediation through a roster of mediators working on a sliding scale).

New and updated Common Questions

Gives you a selection of helpful guides when you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft. It also tells you who to call to report the incident and to ask for more information.

Now includes links to Disability Alliance BC’s blog posts about the new increase to disability rates, the restoration of the bus pass program, and the new transportation supplement.

Stay informed:

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Organization of the Month | September 2017

This month, we feature Legal Services Society (LSS), a Clicklaw contributor.

WHO WE ARE

The Legal Services Society (LSS) is a non-profit organization created by the LSS Act in 1979 to provide legal information, advice, and representation services to people with low incomes. Most people call us Legal Aid BC. Our priority is to serve the interests of people with low incomes. But many of our services are available to all British Columbians.

WHAT DO WE DO?

Every year we help tens of thousands of British Columbians with:

  • serious family problems,
  • child protection matters,
  • immigration issues, and
  • criminal law issues.

We do this by providing a range of services that help people resolve their legal problems. These services include legal information, legal advice, and legal representation. Our services are offered at legal aid locations throughout the province or by calling 1-888-577-2525.

WHAT ARE WE WORKING ON?

Our Community and Publishing Services department is our legal information branch of Legal Services Society. Here’s what they’re working on:

Since it’s launched the site has had over 36,000 users. The Make a Will pathway has been used around 5,600 times and the Make a Separation Plan pathway is just below that at around 5,400. We’ve also done extensive user testing since the launch. If you’ve used MyLawBC in the past, check it out again and complete a 2-3 minute survey about your experience with MyLawBC.com. You could win a cash prize of $100. If you want to let others know about MyLawBC, see the Communication Kit.

  • Community Partners

LSS partners with 26 agencies in BC to provide legal information, connect people to the LSS call centre or local agent, and/or connect people to other legal help. We call them our community partners. The contracts are small, but the impact is big because the front-line workers do other jobs for their agency that put them into direct and frequent contact with people who need legal help. For a complete list of locations and the names of our partners, visit the Community Partners webpage and the Clicklaw HelpMap (for an interactive Google Map).

  • New and upcoming publications about Gladue Rights and First Nations Court

We have a suite of publications letting people know about Gladue rights and First Nations Court. These are:

  • What’s First Nations Court? – This fact sheet explains restorative justice, how you get into First Nations Court, where First Nations Courts are located, who’s at First Nations Court, and what a healing plan is.
  • Your Gladue Rights – a plain language booklet about Aboriginal peoples’ rights under the Criminal Code of Canada called Gladue rights.
  • Gladue Rights at Bail and Sentencing – This infographic poster shows when Gladue rights apply for Aboriginal people during the criminal court process, and when to get a Gladue report or prepare an oral Gladue submission.
  • Coming later in 2017 will be the Gladue Submission Guide and the Gladue Report Guide which help Aboriginal people, advocates, and intermediaries make Gladue reports or submissions. Clicklaw blog subscribers will stay up to date with new publications like these through the Bi-Monthly Update Series.

Get the latest updates about Legal Services Society

Sign up for the newsletter at The Factum.
 

Stay informed with LSS:

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2017 Bi-Monthly Update Series: March/April

To keep you informed, here are some highlights of changes and updates made to Clicklaw in March and April:

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


Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

  • Navigator for Youth Transitioning to Adult Services
    Youth with disabilities in BC face challenges when transitioning from childhood to adult services. This program helps youth aged 14 to 25, their parents and members of their Transition Support Teams, connect with the services they need, such as disability benefits, health services, or school supports.

Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Disability Alliance BC

The following help sheets are now available in 5 languages: Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Persian, Punjabi, Spanish.

Legal Services Society

Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry

People’s Law School

Each of the following publications now has a fresh new look, new content, and more practical guidance. Both are available in multiple media formats: wikibook, EPUB (for reading on a tablet or e-reader), PDF (print version), and printed booklet (order via Crown Publications).

  • Essentials of Consumer Law
    Explains consumer rights for common purchases and contracts. Now includes a new section on making a contract.
  • Scams to Avoid
    Covers 15 of the most common scams. Now includes new sections on romance scams, charity scams, and expanded coverage of online and computer scams.

Provincial Court of British Columbia

  • Guidelines for Using a Support Person in Provincial Court
    Many self-represented litigants find that having a trusted friend or family member with them to provide emotional support, take notes, and organize documents can be a big help. The BC Provincial Court recognizes this, and has adopted guidelines to make it easier to bring a support person to court.

Common Question – Provincial Court Resources for Everyone: Small Claims Court

On June 1, 2017, the limit for small claims will increase to $35,000 from $25,000. This page has been updated to include this information and a link to the New Small Claims Procedures from the Provincial Court of BC. Note: The Provincial Court Resources pages will be updated for May 2017.

Canadian Centre for Elder Law (CCEL)

  • Older Women’s Dialogue Project
    This project looks at law and social policy issues that affect older woman and explores what can be done to address barriers to their quality of life.
  • Older Women’s Legal Education Project
    A collaboration with West Coast LEAF, this project tries to enhance the capacity of seniors-serving professionals to support older women fleeing violence occurring in the family and to inform older women of their rights in situations of abuse.

Stay informed:

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2016 Bi-monthly Update Series: September-October

In our 2015 year-end update, we promised to provide bimonthly updates to new resources and services added to Clicklaw in those two months. Here is a sample from the changes in September and October:

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


connected-car-coverThe Connected Car
by BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association

The report outlines how data culled from vehicle telematics and infotainment systems can be used for safety, monitoring, customer relationship management etc. Yet some data harvested from cars can also be used to track and profile customers for marketing and other purposes.

starting-a-small-business-in-bc-coverStarting a Small Business in BC Guide
by BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Responsible for Labour

This 2016 edition is an introductory guide to help you with planning, implementing, and developing a small business. It provides essential information you need to know as well as links to additional resources to help ensure that your new business is successful.

cpabc-logoLegal Workshop videos
by Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

The videos from CPABC’s legal workshops include topics such as workplace discrimination, victims of crime, and rights for youth in transition.

clas-logoBC Judicial Review Self-Help Guide
by Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS)

Have you received a decision from the BC government or a tribunal (decision maker) that you think is seriously flawed or unfair? After you have gone through all your appeal options within the system, you may be able to ask a judge to review the decision.

CLAS has a guide for people who are representing themselves in a judicial review. We have now updated and modified this guide into a web-based form where users can navigate through the judicial review process for their selected tribunal. This website gives an overview of options that people have, step-by-step information about filing court documents, and templates that people can use when self-representing in Court. The website also allows people to get in touch with CLAS lawyers to ask for information and advice about their situation.

dabc-logoBC Disability Benefits Help Sheets
by Disability Alliance BC

As of September 2016, Disability Alliance BC has fully updated their Help Sheet series to reflect the changes to the PWD benefit, including a rate increase and changes to the BC Bus Pass Program.

emilys-choice-coverEmily’s Choice
by Legal Services Society

Emily’s Choice uses storytelling and images to describe child protection. Co-produced with the Healthy Aboriginal Network, the video and graphic novel tell the story of Emily, who struggles with addiction and an unhealthy relationship. She loves her son, Greg, but can’t always take care of him. When he goes into foster care, she gets legal help and family support to get him back.

The webpage provides links to the video, trailer, online version of the graphic novel, ordering information, who can help, and promotional material.

the-factum-logoThe Factum
by Legal Services Society

The Factum is a Legal Services Society blog about the law in British Columbia and how people can navigate the legal system. While it talks a bit about all aspects of the law, it focuses mainly on how the legal system affects people who can’t afford a lawyer.

Civil Resolution Tribunal- BC’s New Online Tribunal0000crt (Webinar recording)
by Civil Resolution Tribunal and Courthouse Libraries BC

This webinar focused on the recent changes to the strata dispute process brought about in the Civil Resolution Tribunal Amendment Act and served as an introduction to the CRT’s resolution services (including guides, videos and sample document templates) and their Solution Explorer software tool.

 

Stay informed:

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Moving in together, “Common-Law Relationships” and Unmarried Spouses in BC

Are we or aren’t we?

0_censusThis past year, your household would have received some form of the 2016 Census, which included a question that could stump a few people: Are you married? Do you have a common-law partner?

The Statistics Canada website defines Common-Law Partner as “persons who are members of an opposite-sex or same-sex couple living common law. A couple living common law is one in which the members are not legally married to each other but live together as a couple in the same dwelling.”

“Common-law partner” is the term used federally (Canada-wide) to mean a marriage-like relationship that has lasted for two years, just one year or even less, depending on what law applies.

In BC, our provincial family laws use the term “spouse” or “unmarried spouse” to refer to an unmarried couple who has lived together in a “marriage-like relationship” for at least two years, or less than that if they have had a child together. There is no such thing as a “common-law spouse” or “common-law marriage” in BC. However, there are still certain consequences of being an “unmarried spouse”. See Unmarried Spouses.

What should I know about before moving in with my partner?

keys-525732_1280In BC, If you have lived together in a “marriage-type relationship” for two years (with some variability), these are some important consequences to know about:

  • the debts either of you incurred while you were living together are considered “family debt”, which means that when you break up, the responsibility for this debt may be divided equally between you. Read more about this at: How to divide property and debts, Property & Debt in Family Matters;
  • if you buy property together during your relationship, regardless of who paid the downpayment, you could equally share it and equally share the increase in value of property you had before the relationship, which can even apply to the increase in value of “excluded property” like gifts and inheritances;
  • the courts will treat you like a married couple when determining spousal support. See Spousal Support;
  • you may be considered spouses for the purpose of social assistance and other benefits* (which may negatively or positively affect your eligibility). See Thinking of moving in together?;
  • it may affect your partner’s right to “contest” your will. See What Happens When Your Spouse Dies.

I’m already living with my partner. Is there anything I could do?

I want legal advice and/or more information on my situation. Where can I get it?

If you are low income and have questions on family law matters, the Family LawLine can provide more information and help.

To find legal advice and other help on family law issues, see Helpmap results for “family law” and “legal advice” here. It includes services like the CBABC’s Lawyer Referral Service, which connects you with a lawyer who will offer an initial 30-minute consultation for a nominal fee of $25 plus taxes.

This post didn’t cover everything. Read more about this topic:

For example, we weren’t able to discuss situations where an unmarried couple have had a child together. That would have made this post very long indeed! Read the resources linked throughout this post for more information. Another great resource to consult is: Living Together or Living Apart: Common-Law Relationships, Marriage, Separation, and Divorce

Past posts on Family Law from the Clicklaw Blog:


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Family LawLINE: Helping BC families with their legal problems

masterlogo-www.lss.bc.ca_blackThe Legal Services Society’s Family LawLINE is a telephone service that assists people with their family law matters, including many who are located in rural and remote areas. Lawyers work from their own offices, using the phone to provide free legal coaching and “next step” legal advice to eligible people across British Columbia. Clients can schedule a number of follow-up phone appointments and share documents by fax or email.

Clients come to the Family LawLINE with a wide variety of family legal issues. There is no “typical client”.  One client may have recently separated and is seeking initial legal advice and assistance to move forward.  Another may be involved in a court process or is seeking assistance to change existing agreements or orders. By using LawLINE, a client has the opportunity to work with a family lawyer to identify goals and desired outcomes, and to develop a step-by-step plan of action.

WHAT SPECIFIC SERVICES DOES FAMILY LawLINE PROVIDE?

Family LawLINE helps people who are representing themselves through all stages of court and collaborative process by providing:00_FamilyLawLine

  • Interpreters, if clients need services in languages other than English
  • Information and advice on court processes, both Provincial and Supreme Court
  • Information and advice on options for resolving legal issues out of court
  • Referrals to other services, including online resources and other public agencies
  • Assistance with preparing documents for court
  • Coaching to help clients:
    • understand the law relevant to their particular case,
    • make more effective court appearances,
    • present evidence properly,
    • prepare for negotiation and settlement,
    • use Public Legal Education and Information tools, and
    • identify their goals and how to achieve them effectively.

HOW DOES SOMEONE GET THESE SERVICES?

To qualify for the Family LawLINE service, a person must:

  • Qualify financially;
  • have an eligible family law issue; and
  • not have a lawyer already working for them.

To find out about eligibility and access the Family LawLINE:

Call the Legal Services Society’s provincial call centre at 604-408-2172 (for Greater Vancouver) or toll free at 1-866-577-2525, Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and Wednesdays until 2:30.

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MyLawBC helps you with common legal problems

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MyLawBC features numerous “pathways” for your legal problems.

By Nate Prosser
Online Outreach Coordinator 

There’s no doubt that the law is complicated. What further complicates matters is when laws vary by jurisdiction (from province to province, and from country to country). This is why sites like Clicklaw are needed to help people find legal information. One of the biggest challenges faced by people who teach the public about the law is making legal information easy to understand and easy to act on.

The Legal Services Society’s new site, MyLawBC, takes a new tack to this challenge. The site is built around the idea of guided pathways — interactive pathways that ask you questions about your situation and then use your answers to create a plan that empowers you to solve your legal problem.

What can MyLawBC help me with?

For now, MyLawBC covers four main areas of law: divorce and separation, foreclosure, wills & estates, and personal planning.

If you’re going through a separation, MyLawBC can help. Its pathways guide you to the best way to work through separation with your spouse, to get a court order, or to respond to a court document. You may also use the Dialogue Tool which simplifies the process of creating a separation agreement by helping you and your spouse identify what’s important to you, giving you the platform and tools to work together to create a fair and lasting separation agreement.

For those facing foreclosure, there’s the missed mortgage payments pathway. As you progress through the pathway, MyLawBC gives you practical information on how to avoid foreclosure and where to find financial and legal help. Upon completion of the pathway, you are provided with an “action plan” which tells you what your options are to keep your house and what steps you need to take. Your plan also includes resources like tips, checklists, and sample letters.

The make a will pathway will help you learn about the decisions you need to make when writing a will. Depending on your situation, MyLawBC may provide you with a simple form to fill out to create your will. Even if MyLawBC cannot provide a will to fit your needs, the pathway will give you information about what to put in your will and how to get help to complete one.

Planning for your future where you may need help making decisions is also important. The plan for the future pathway explains the available legal documents and which one(s) are for you.


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2016 Bi-monthly Update Series: March-April

In our 2015 year-end update, we promised to provide bimonthly updates to new resources and services added to Clicklaw in those two months. Here is a selection from the hundreds of changes in March and April:

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


Battered Women’s Support Services
by Battered Women’s Support Services

See BWSS’ expanded legal advocacy program which includes full representation (family and immigration matters), and other help on family law issues: workshops, a family law clinic and a court forms preparation clinic.

 

Islamophobia Hotline
by SABA BC, Access Pro Bono, National Council of Canadian Muslims, BCPIAC, FACL BC, CLAS, BCCLA, CABL, CBA BC

Free confidential legal advice if you feel that you have been discriminated, harassed, or faced violence because you are Muslim or were perceived to be Muslim: 604-343-3828

 

Resources on police record checks
by Canadian Civil Liberties Association

Want to know what a police record is? How to try to deal with a non-conviction record? What privacy and human rights laws apply, or best practices for employers? Check out this resource from the CCLA.

 

LSLAP Manuals
by LSLAP Law Students’ Legal Advice Program

See the latest links for LSLAP’s updated legal advice manuals.

 

Coping with Separation Handbook
by Legal Services Society

For spouses (married or living in a marriage-like relationship) dealing with the emotional aspects of separating. Describes ways to cope and how to help your children cope. Includes support services for spouses, parents, and children, and where to find legal help.

 

The Social Security Tribunal
by Disability Alliance BC and CLAS

In 2013, the process to appeal the denial of Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-D) changed when a new system, the Social Security Tribunal (SST), replaced the Review Tribunal. This guide will help people and advocates who are appealing denial of CPP-D to the SST. The guide has been updated in 2016.

 

Atira Legal Services
by Atira Women’s Resources Society

See updated information for Atira’s Legal Advocacy Program for Women in the DTES, Atira’s Weekly Summary Legal Advice Clinic, and Atira Women’s Court Form Preparation Clinic.

 

The McKenzie Friend: Choosing and Presenting a Courtroom Companion
by NSLRP

As a self-represented litigant, you may bring someone to sit with you at the front of a courtroom when you are appearing before a judge or master. You must ask the judge for permission for this person – often a friend or family member – to sit beside you and help you through the process.

 

Executor Guide for BC
by Heritage Law

This publicly available wikibook will help you understand the steps involved in being an executor and probating a will.

 

Leaving Abuse
by Legal Services Society

This graphic novel tells the story of Maya, who is leaving her abusive partner but doesn’t know where to get help. Through illustrations and clear basic legal information, Leaving Abuse shows how she finds the support and legal aid she and her children need to stay safe and start a new life.

 

TRU Community Legal Clinic (CLC)
by Thompson Rivers University (TRU)

The Community Legal Clinic (CLC) is the first student-staffed pro bono legal clinic in the Interior of British Columbia. The students and the supervising lawyer are a passionate team providing legal assistance and advice to those who would otherwise be unable to afford legal assistance.

 

Preparing for B.C.’s New Societies Act: A Guide to the Transition Process
by BC Registry Services

The new Societies Act will come into effect on Nov. 28, 2016. In the two years following that date, every preexisting society will be required to “transition” to the new Act. This document sets out some basic information about the transition process and other matters that societies may wish to consider over the coming months.

 

Debt collection & debt repayment agents
by Consumer Protection BC

Consumer Protection BC is the licensing and regulatory body for the debt collection and repayment industry (which includes debt collectors, collection agencies, bailiffs and debt repayment agents). They provide information on your rights & obligations around debt collection practices. Includes links on how to dispute a debt, request communication in writing only, or notify a collection agency you are not the debtor.

Includes updated information on debt collection practices. See also blog post on Debt Repayment Agents: New Rules are in place and New things to know about BC’s debt collection laws


Notice – BC Government URLs

You may have noticed that some of the links to websites hosted by the BC Government may be broken as they restructure. We are currently working with BC Gov website staff to keep links updated. For example, see the updated link to Family Justice in BC.

Stay informed:

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Help for people with family law issues who have to represent themselves in BC Supreme Court

By Winnifred Assmann and Nate Prosser
Legal Services Society2015-10-02 16-42-35_Prepare for your trial_ Family Law in BC

Representing yourself is intimidating. It’s also a scenario that is becoming
more common. To help people in this situation, the Legal Services Society has created a new set of online resources to help people navigate Supreme Court trials and hearings.

These include a new self-help guide on how to schedule and prepare for a Supreme Court trial, plus step-by-step guides to walk users through completing the forms required for Supreme Court trials and Chambers hearings. All these resources walk you through the trial process.

Stage 1: Before you schedule a trial

A new fact sheet – Discovery — Sharing information with the other party – explains what discovery is, why you want to share information, and other ways to get information, like a pre-trial examination of witnesses.

Stage 2: Prepare for your trial

How to schedule and prepare for your Supreme Court trial includes a timeline of significant deadlines and links to videos that set out the court process.

Accompanying this guide are two fact sheets, Making an offer to settle, which explains how to resolve your issue before going to court, and Present your evidence in Supreme Court, which explains the different types of evidence and how to present them.

Videos, produced with the help of People’s Law School, explain topics including: scheduling and preparing for a Supreme Court trial, giving testimonyquestioning a witness, and using documents during a trial.

Stage 3: At your trial and after

The new guide, How to draft a Supreme Court order, walks through how to draft a Supreme Court order if you’re a party in a family law case. To also help with this, LSS created samples of some of the most common court orders.

Other resources include: fact sheets on coping with the court process, tips for conducting your Supreme Court trial, and what happens at a Supreme Court trial. LSS also compiled sample questions that can be asked of witnesses at a Supreme Court trial.

Finally, a new video gives you an overview of Supreme Court, tells you what to bring, shows you the inside of a courtroom, and describes what everyone in the courtroom does.

Drafting affidavits

The final set of resources help you write an affidavit. This includes a self-help guide, samples, and tips.

Those are just some of the new resources LSS has made to help people representing themselves in a family trial in Supreme Court. A full list of links can be found starting at How to represent yourself in a Supreme Court family law trial on the Family Law in BC website.

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