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Where can I find legal support if I have experienced partner abuse?
You may need different kinds of help and support when you leave an abusive relationship.
A lawyer has special training that allows them to give legal advice. Legal advice means that a lawyer can explain how the law applies to your specific legal problems. For example, they can advise you on what you can do to keep your abusive partner away from you.
A lawyer can represent you in court. They can also let you know the different ways you can resolve your issues without going to court.
If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers provide "unbundled services" or "limited scope retainer" services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.
If you have experienced family violence and need immediate legal help, you might be able to get 2 hours of free advice from a lawyer. This service is offered through some women's shelters, community legal clinics, and Family Law Service Centres. Or you can call Legal Aid Ontario toll-free at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.
If you have experienced sexual abuse and live in Toronto, Ottawa, or Thunder Bay, you might be able to get 4 hours of free advice from a lawyer. You have to complete a voucher request form. Or you can call the Independent Legal Advice for Sexual Assault Survivors Pilot Program at 1-855-226-3904 to find out more.
If you want to get a restraining order only and there are no other family issues, you might be able to get up to 6 hours of free legal help. If you want a restraining order and other family law orders, you have to apply for a regular legal aid certificate. You can call Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 to find out more.
Luke’s Place works with abused women across Ontario by providing legal advice, support, and referrals. They offer a Virtual Legal Clinic that connects women with lawyers for free legal advice on family law issues. Call 905-728-0978 or 1-866-516-3116.
The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic helps women in Toronto who’ve experienced physical, sexual, or psychological abuse. The Clinic represents women in family and immigration court for free. The Clinic accepts collect calls and can be reached at 416-323-9140 or 416-323-1361 (TTY).
You may be able to find legal help and general advice in other places such as a Family Law Information Centre, through Legal Aid Ontario, or at a community legal clinic. Some services have special help for victims of partner abuse.
Whether or not you have a lawyer, it is a good idea to get emotional support before and after leaving an abusive relationship. You may want someone who can help you:
- emotionally or mentally
- make a safety plan before or after you leave your home
- find housing
- apply for Ontario Works or other support services
- understand the criminal court process if you or your partner has been charged with a crime
- support your children
Usually, lawyers cannot help with these kinds of issues. If you have a counsellor or support person to help you with them, you can be more focused on your legal issues with your lawyer.