The 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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.