Legal Help for Family Law Issues

Family Duty Counsel
Family duty counsel are available in the Vancouver and New Westminster courthouses; they provide free summary legal advice (not representation) to eligible self-represented litigants.

Vancouver Justice Access Centre (the “JAC”)
The Vancouver JAC offers a variety of information and services to help with a wide range of family or civil legal issues. The JAC is located in Room 290 at 800 Hornby Street (can also be accessed from the north side of 800 Smithe Street) and the phone number is 604.660.2084. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to various closing times.

Family Justice Centres
Family Justice Centres operate across the province. They are staffed by family justice counsellors who can assist you with issues related to separation or divorce. They provide services free of charge to parents and other family members. There is a Family Justice Centre in New Westminster at Columbia Square Plaza, 204 – 88 10th Street, New Westminster, BC (phone: 604-660-8636). You can find other Family Justice Centre (FJC) locations by calling Enquiry BC (phone 604.660.2421 in Greater Vancouver) between 7:30am and 5:00pm, Monday to Friday, and asking the operator to transfer you. You can also find FJC locations and phone numbers online athttp://www.clicklaw.bc.ca/helpmap/service/1019

Family LawLINE
This is a telephone advice line staffed by lawyers paid by Legal Aid. They give brief “next step” advice about family law problems. To find out if you qualify for Family LawLINE, call the Legal Aid Call Centre at 604-408-2172. An intake worker will ask you questions about your financial situation and your legal issue. If you qualify, you’ll be transferred to an available Family LawLINE lawyer.

Family LawLINE hours
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays — 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Wednesdays — 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Legal help for family law issues
Expanded Family LawLINE services – beginning in the fall of 2014
Family LawLINE currently offers next-step advice to eligible clients with family law issues both before and after they have engaged the court process. This includes legal information and advice on procedural or substantive issues, and information about options for resolution, including out-of-court settlement options. Family LawLINE lawyers also provide a wide range of referrals to other services.

LSS is expanding the unbundled services offered by the LawLINE to allow lawyers to assist parties with document preparation with the use of a variety of technologies. LawLINE will also be expanded by:
• Increasing the number of hours when LawLINE lawyers are available to give advice
• Enhancing the continuity of contact between LawLINE lawyer and client
• Expanding and enhancing services through technology (including enabling document sharing
and using online meetings tools)
• Expanding the service model to more fully engage a legal coaching model

Legal Language – words to know when navigating the legal system
Here are three websites where you can find definitions / explanations about various legal words and terms:

Family Law in BC – Definitions
http://www.familylaw.lss.bc.ca/resources/definitions.php

Justice Education Society – Legal Dictionary
http://www.justiceeducation.ca/legal-dictionary

Supreme Court BC Online Help Guide – Glossary
http://www.supremecourtbc.ca/glossary

How to talk clearly about your legal issue
There are a couple of websites where you can find tips and suggestions about how to talk clearly about your legal issue. Even though these tips and suggestions are about how to prepare for talking to a lawyer, they are also helpful if you are going to go to the JAC or a Family Justice Center, or to an advocate or other type of legal helper:

A Guide to a Successful Interview with a Lawyer (Access Pro Bono)http://www.accessprobono.ca/sites/default/files/A-Guide-to-a-Successful-Interview-with-a-Lawyer.pdf

How to work well with a lawyer (Legal Services Society – Family Law in BC website)http://www.familylaw.lss.bc.ca/resources/fact_sheets/how_to_work_with_lawyer.php

Checklist for working well with a lawyer (Legal Services Society – Family Law in BC website)http://www.familylaw.lss.bc.ca/assets/forms/checklistForWorkingWellWithLawyer.pdf