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Where can I find a lawyer to help with my family law issue?
You don't have to hire a lawyer to help you with your family law issues. But, a lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities, and the options you have.
Responsibilities are what the law says you have to do after you separate or divorce and rights are what the law says you can get.
Lawyers can give legal advice. This means they can explain what the law says and how it applies to your specific legal problem. They can also:
- Give you advice on things like the rules you must follow to make your separation agreement legal.
- Explain the different ways you can resolve your issues.
- Represent you in court.
Sometimes a lawyer is also called an attorney, barrister, or solicitor.
After you separate, you and your partner should never have the same lawyer. This is because you and your partner have different rights and responsibilities and your lawyer should be working in your interests only.
If you have a low income, you may be able to get help from Legal Aid Ontario (LAO). This may include getting a legal aid certificate if you meet LAO’s financial eligibility rules and your legal issue is one that LAO covers.
A paralegal is another type of legal professional that can give legal advice in certain areas, but they can't do everything a lawyer can do. They cannot help with family law issues.
In Ontario, the Law Society of Ontario regulates lawyers and paralegals. This means they:
- have rules about who can become a lawyer or paralegal
- have rules about how lawyers and paralegals must behave professionally
- deal with complaints about lawyers and paralegals
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, you can still speak with one for general advice. Some lawyers also provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, you may be able to find legal help in other places.
If you've experienced partner abuse, there are additional legal supports that may be available to you.